Elliot Roberts, who managed the careers of Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Tom Petty and many classic-rock legends, died at the age of 76. A cause of death has not been revealed.
“It is with a heavy heart that we can confirm the passing of Elliot Roberts. No further details are available at this time,” a rep for Young wrote in a statement on behalf of Roberts’ Lookout Management. “Roberts, among the most respected and beloved music industry figures of all time, leaves an indelible footprint as a pioneer and leader in the business of artist representation.
His uncanny intellect, unmatched, sharp wit, larger-than-life charisma along with his keen understanding of the music industry will remain unparalleled. Truly one of a kind, he will be missed always and by many.”
With his former colleague David Geffen, Roberts was one of the pivotal figures in the rise of the Southern California and Laurel Canyon music scenes of the Sixties and Seventies. Known equally for his business savvy and sense of humor, Roberts landed record deals for Young and Mitchell, co-managed Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, conceived the idea of Petty and the Heartbreakers backing Bob Dylan in the 1980s and helped launch the careers of Tracy Chapman and the Cars.
Born Elliot Rabinowitz on February 25th, 1943, Roberts was raised in the Bronx, ran with gangs and, after flirting with the idea of becoming an athlete given his basketball chops, opted for show business.
He wound up in the mail room at the William Morris Agency, where he would meet fellow would-be mover and shaker David Geffen.