Larry Vallon (right) with Dayglo Ventures’ Peter Shapiro in 2017. (Getty Images)
Promoter, being inducted into organization’s hall of fame, looks back on his long career in LA’s concert scene
Legendary LA concert promoter Larry Vallon may have announced his retirement from AEG Live earlier this year, but his victory lap continues at the International Entertainment Buyers Association confab in Nashville this week. Vallon is being inducted into the organization’s hall of fame, along with Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Joan Jett and manager Kenny Laguna, CAA’s Rod Essig, Vans Warped Tour’s Kevin Lyman and the late Steve Dahl, longtime head of fairs and festivals for Paradigm.
“I was lucky to have the career I had,” said Vallon, 72, who opened up AEG Live’s Los Angeles offices in 2004 as vice president of national booking after a 23-year career with MCA Concerts, Universal Concerts and finally House of Blues Concerts, turning venues like the Universal Amphitheatre and the Santa Monica Civic Center into must-plays for superstars and emerging acts alike. “I just felt my time was up. I’ve aged out,” he said. “I feel I’ve accomplished many of my goals, and had a great time doing so. I’m not a fan of the new electronic or pop acts. I’m a classic rock guy.”
Vallon was born in Washington, D.C. His father was a foreign service officer, and Vallon spent time in Guatemala, El Salvador and Argentina. After his father’s death, he moved with his mother to the Los Angeles suburb of Montebello, where he learned to surf and speak Spanish. His high school friends included the brothers Richard and Charlie Fernandez, who became tour managers — Richard for The Eagles, Tom Petty and Donald Fagen, and Charlie for Jimmy Buffett.
Vallon got a job as a page at ABC, became a runner for longtime friend Bob Eubanks at “The Newlywed Game” and delivered the Lennon Sisters’ wigs to the beauty parlor for the late LA concert promoters Jim Rissmiller and Steve Wolf.
Some of his earliest memories include booking an Allman Brothers Band show Oct. 7, 1971, at the Santa Monica Civic Center, a scant three weeks before Duane Allman’s death in a motorcycle crash in Macon, Ga.
“There were a lot of good ones over the years,” said Vallon, whose long-lasting relationship with The Who culminated in the band’s booking at AEG Live’s massive Desert Trip event in Indio, Calif., in 2016.
Vallon is also considered a pioneer of crossing over into Latin music, having discovered musicians playing at downtown LA’s Million Dollar Theater and taking a chance on booking them into the much larger Universal Amphitheatre.
He started with artists such as José José and the late Juan Gabriel before his big breakthrough, Julio Iglesias’ 12 sellouts at the venue during the 1984 Summer Olympics.
While Vallon will remain a consultant at AEG Live for the next year, he is already gearing up for retirement (“a permanent vacation,” he calls it) with his wife, Claudia, in Century City. Two daughters live nearby.
He plays a little golf, though “I’m really good on the range, not so good on the course,” and looks forward to staying in touch with friends and acquaintances he’s met over his 50-year career.
Asked about how consolidation has changed the formerly regional business of concert promotion, Vallon refuses to dwell on the past.
“It’s all a progression,” he said. “Every time period was fun in its own way. But we were all fans of the music back then. We were so passionate.”
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to correct the occupation of Steve Dahl.