Leas on Life

Leas Campbell, the man who ruled Miami's rock scene throughout the Seventies, is bringing it all back home in the Nineties

"The opportunity of him coming back is like a dream come true," says David Laurenzo; the kid who used to sneak into concerts is now a financial partner and vice president in Campbell's new venture. "To be in the business with an old friend A we're partners, but he is the business. He has the twenty years' experience. And he's going to do some exciting things. We expect to put on some great nights of entertainment."

Loyalty is important to Campbell, not the act of it so much as the raw concept. "This 'everything goes to the highest bidder' philosophy will kill the golden goose of rock and roll." That carries over to the bigger picture, too. "This is a crossroads in our society," he says of the early Nineties, "just like the Sixties. The country declines from being the number-one economic power to number six. People have to work 50 hours to make what they used to make in 35. Will it take a depression, or will it take a revolution? Yeah. I'm renting cars because I can't, can't, make a five-year commitment to an American car? That's bad. Now, in '93, more than in '73, people need the escape of a great rock concert, to get out of the race for three hours. All this apathy, the ostrich approach to life. Ted Turner talks about new values, and I find that appealing. Will it really work? No, but we have to try. You have to try."

As he surveys the future and his ninth-floor vista, Campbell remains proud of his earlier work in show biz. "Many of my shows were memorable," he says. "A concert should be memorable. I'm the luckiest human in the world, because I got to sit in Duane Allman's room and hear him and Berry jam for six or seven hours. This isn't about money. It's enough to be around the greatest artists in the world."

That, of course, is not enough. Campbell must turn profits as he re-enters the promotion wars. He has the tools A telephones and contacts being the primary resources of his trade A and the reputation. He doesn't have the overbearing sense of self-importance common among those he must work with. "Some of these people come in here," he says, meaning agents and managers and label people, "and they act like royalty. They need a phone, and a fax is coming.... Pretentious ego people acting like they're big time. If you're really big time, you don't have to act like it."

If you're Leas Campbell, you can just be yourself. You can wear jeans and a T-shirt to work. "This office is a prop," he admits. "But it's close to home and it works. The marble and glass and suits A if you take this seriously, you flip out. Sometimes you have to look at yourself and laugh. I did some brave and innovative things. A lot of it was hilarious." He smiles broadly and pokes out a cigarette. It's late in the evening and he'll have to clean up the coffee cups and the overflowing ashtray himself. He wants to keep the place nice.

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