If you own more than one 80s glam metal album then you’re probably familiar with the name Vicky Hamilton, since you could see it on almost every thank list on these vinyl inserts. I briefly met Vicky at Bar Sinister in L.A. in 2005, and when Robbie Quine (The BARBARELLATONES) told me “You should talk to my friend Vicky”, I thought it would be interesting to send her a few questions…
Can you tell us about your background? When did you move to Los Angeles?
I dropped our of art school in Indiana in 1980, I moved to Hollywood in 1981 where I decided to be the best female rock and roll manager in the world…
I had 2 bands from the midwest that I was pumping when I first moved to LA and that is where it started. I was also a record buyer for Licorice Pizza Record Store on the Sunset Strip.
How did you start managing bands?
By accident! My boyfriend in Indiana was in a band and then the band broke up. I decided to manage his career and help him find a new band. I got the management bug…I worked with 3 bands in Indiana and then decided I needed to move to Hollywood, as to take it to the next level, I needed to be where the action was.
I read that you helped MÖTLEY CRÜE in their early days… In those days, did you ever imagine they could have become so big?
I loved Motley Crue from the beginning. What they were doing then (1981) was really fresh as the glam/metal thing was just starting. LA until the Crue was pretty punk rock. Yes, I did think they could be huge, and I saw it as a new trend in rock…which it was.
No one worked harder than Poison, they didn’t have day jobs, they made promoting the band their day job. They didn’t take “no” for an answer and they were the kings of self promo.
Do you remember the first time you’ve heard about GUNS N’ ROSES? Then the first time you met them? They lived at your place for a while, right?
I met Axl and Izzy when they were in Hollywood Rose. I was a booking agent at the time and they came by my office and played me some tracks. I was blown away, and booked them sight unseen. I met Slash around the same time, he was playing guitar in another band I booked called Black Sheep. I booked both bands on a show with Stryper at the Music Machine and that was when GNR started coming together. Yes, they all lived with me, except Duff who lived with his girlfriend while we were shopping a record deal. You’ll have to buy my book to get that story though…hopefully will be out in the next few months.
When did the band actually start to make enough money to live off their music? Just after the release of “Appetite For Destruction”?
They got an advance from Geffen, but burnt thorough that pretty quickly. I think it took at least a year after the record came out before they had real money to live on.
Talking about managing STRYPER. That must have been very different from dealing with Axl & friends…
I worked as a management consultant to Stryper and Motley Crue, I wasn’t their manager. Surprisingly, a band is a band whether they are Christian or not, the business is pretty much the same. I didn’t live with Stryper and they didn’t date strippers or have drug habits, but it was all about business, just like GNR.
Didn’t you feel that the magic faded away when Steven Adler got fired and Izzy left?
Yes. Those five guys had the magic. When you start taking pieces of the magic away, the sound is different. I don’t think it will ever be as good as it was when those 5 were together.
Are you still in touch with them? Do you think they will ever reunite with the original line-up?
I talk to Slash on a fairly regular basis and I am friends with all the other guys. I have not spoken to Axl since the mid 90’s unfortunately. I wish him well, and hope one day were will get to chat. I don’t think the original lineup will ever get back together, I would love it, but I think the chances are slim to none.
Yes, I took Faster Pussycat to my friend Peter Philbin who was an A&R man at Elektra at the time. Peter signed them.
Many! Salty Dog had a good run, but could have been bigger. Lostboys, featuring Randy O from Odin. Darling Cruel signed to Polygram but the record didn’t get as much attention as it should have. Rick Parker, I,Napoleon, Half Way Home, Shadowland, Graveyard Train…all bands I brought or worked with at Geffen, could have had bigger careers…as recently as The Art…sometimes there is no rhyme or reason to this business, but you have to make the best of it.
I read in an interview that it wasn’t always easy for you on a financial level during those years, have you ever thought about stopping band management at some point?
Financially the music business has never taken care of me other than the years I spent at Geffen and Capitol. I have never worked with young bands for the money, it’s always been for the love of the music. Somebody has to try and break new talent, and I have had more success at it than most. Also I had a Grammy win on my own label Small Hairy Dog with June Carter Cash in 2000, I just loved what she did and no one wanted to sign her, so I started my own label to get her music out there.
Were you still managing bands during the 90s?
Yes, I have never quit managing bands! I managed Sex With Lurch, The Art from Sydney Australia. I worked with a great irish band named The Future Kings Of Spain, among many others…
Then you were a booking agent at Bar Sinister in the 00s. Have you done this for any other clubs?
Yes I worked at Bar Sinister for 9 years! It’s a great club even now! I booked The Malibu Inn for awhile…I promote a few shows still here and there.
Do you still manage bands today in this Internet era?
I currently manage Diana Meyer http://www.dianameyermusic.com who is amazing singer songwriter who rocks and Co-manage Talk Like June featuring Suzanne Harper http://www.talklikejune.com Talk Like June is California Country and about to play Nashville Jan 17-23, I’m going with them, I’m excited!
Can you tell us about “Glitter Beach”, the musical play you wrote with Robbie of The BARBARELLATONES?
Glitter Beach is mine and Robbie’s love child. It’s a bout a Glam rock surfer dude named Reef Bedrock who invents Glam rock music in 1969. Imagine Rocky Horror meets Hedwig with a little Bowie and Dick Dale thrown in. We are planning on doing a couple more workshops in 2015 hopefully in LA, Vegas and Miami!! It’s such a great musical, Robbie out did himself writing the music for this and it is all about misfits coming together…it’s a beautiful play and I know one day it will be huge! I am hoping to write another play with Robbie soon, I love working with him.
You run the Aesthetic V blog. Can you tell us about this too?
Yes, I am doing a video blog called Aesthetic V Blog http://www.aestheticvblog.com My partner is Micheal Kraemer who was my street scout at Geffen. Micheal shoots the videos and takes care of the website and I put together the interviews. It’s all about the creative process. Its about finding the muse, weather it’s music, art, writing, film…all things creative. Its a way to expose new talent to the world, and get advice from people who are working in the arts. Again a labor of love, but hopefully it will start making enough money through ad sells on the website so we can keep it going. It’s all about the internet these days, and I have had a lot of help from some of my friends like Andy Stack at YouTube and Gregory Markel at Infuse Creative to learn this new medium.
Are you still working on your autobiography? Please tell us a bit about it…
I have finished my book! It’s called Appetite For Dysfunction. It’s my life story about all the bands I have worked with, my creative journey through the arts, writing etc. It also goes into my personal life and the process of getting sober etc. It will have a lot of great pictures and stories from the humble beginning of the rock artist you know and love. It’s also about being a woman in the business. I have been working on it for 7 years. The book is finished, just needs a professional edit and I have a manager who is shopping it currently for a book deal, the book has some strong interest. I’m very excited! Getting this book out there is a dream come true for me…hopefully by summer!