He thought he was going to beat it.
And that was the essence of Chip Hooper, his optimism, his determination, his perseverance. He saw what he wanted and he reached out and got it.
I first met him on a soundstage, at A&M Records, back in 1990, he was the agent for the band the Blessing, who were making a video.
My old friend Robert Tauro had picked Chip over competitors in L.A., like CAA, despite Hooper residing in Monterey. Chip closed him.
And he closed me. Chip had a way of being friendly and intimate without being pushy or overdramatic. He was the kind of guy who felt like a friend from the moment you met him, and whenever you connected, no matter how long the break, you felt the same kinship, you were important, you mattered, you shared a bond.
Which is a rare thing in show business where everybody is defined by their job and their power and as soon as they lose it, they're history, it's like they don't exist.
And although the Blessing failed, Chip insisted I come see his new signing Phish, at the Variety Arts Center in downtown L.A., on April 15, 1992, weeks after my dad died, a week before my birthday. The energy was palpable, I knew they were gonna blow up just as Chip said, and they did.
And then Chip became the jam band king. He represented the Dave Matthews Band. Suddenly, Chip was the big earner at Monterey Peninsula Artists, which represented blue chips like Aerosmith and Bonnie Raitt, but this guy from the midwest had a sense for what was coming, he always had a sense for what was coming.
Kind of like EDM. Chip made the deal for AM Only. Snatched them away from competitors. Because when you got Chip in a room…you felt the humanity, you could not sign with anybody else.
To the point where you told others they had to be with him. I told Ron Fierstein that Shawn Colvin had to sign with Chip and she did, and Ron became a fan of Chip's photography.
I'd say that's what most people don't know, but most people do, Chip was a world class photographer.
And a world class father.
You were hearing about the exploits of his son Max on the hardwood from the time the kid entered his teens. Chip was agenting his son.
And proud of his daughter Valerie too, especially when she got into Duke.
But you rarely saw Chip in the headlines, because the truth is you get those when you employ a publicity agent, when you need the accolades to survive. Chip loved his status and his power, but didn't need to brag, he was satisfied that those in the know knew, and they did, that's how he wound up winning Agent of the Year at the Pollstar Awards eight times, more than any other.
And I know we always say good thing about people when they pass. And maybe you don't know Chip.
But he was a force. He was a power. He did it through charm as opposed to intimidation, but he won.
Chip told me he'd tell me what he had if I promised not to Google it.
Others did, they told me it was a death sentence.
But Chip did not believe this. He went to Germany for a special treatment that worked! He was convinced he was gonna be here a long time.
But then he had his stroke.
You can't beat the Big C. Oh, you can try, but it'll get you in the end. Not every time, but most times.
And those of us left behind can't fathom it. How someone so vibrant is laid low and ultimately taken from us. We're sad, we're creeped out, and we're reminded it could be us.
And it most definitely could be. The Grim Reaper is funny that way. He plucks the best and the brightest instead of the deserving. There seems to be no rhyme or reason.
And 53 is way too early to go. But Chip packed a lot in and had an impact on so many, not only helping their careers but their personal lives too.
In the long run none of us will be remembered.
In the short run it's those you've come in contact with who you've been good to, who you've helped, who'll remember you.
And those who came in contact with Chip Hooper will never forget him.
And those that were exposed to Phish and Dave Matthews and so many other acts might not know that without Chip Hooper, they might have never heard of them.
So I don't know what to tell you to do. This death thing is confounding. I wish I'd seen Chip recently, I wonder what else I could have done.
But I do know that Chip did everything. He was there for people.
And if you want to honor his memory you'll pursue the target, despite the competition, you'll do good for others, and you'll know that life can be snatched from this earth at any time, and possessions are not people, and achievements are not experiences, and life is about the living.
Live yours to the fullest.
I was lucky enough to get to know Chip over the last year, before and after The Windish Agency partnered with Paradigm. As I got to know him, he became a big part of the reason I chose to align with Paradigm. In that short period of time, he had a huge impact on me as an agent and more so as a person.
Chip was a force. The first time I spoke to him, we talked for 2 hours. He had to interrupt the call twice to speak with his son. At the end of those calls I trusted and looked up to him.
He constantly used sports analogies. He handpicked his team carefully and when you were on it, he backed you up 150%. He treated me like he treated his family and he barely knew me. He was full on all the time, could see 10 steps ahead, and was totally unflappable in his dedication to everyone under the Paradigm umbrella and to his clients.
When I am presented a challenge, the words ‘What would Chip do?’ ring loud in my head.
Chip was a force of nature, a good and kind man and a fantastic photographer who loved nature, music, his family and life.
My home is filled with his photographs and my heart is heavy as I write this.
He is gone too soon but not forgotten.
Andy texted me this morning, to tell me of Chip's passing.
Even though I knew he'd had an awful battle the last 4 years and the stroke was a terrible setback, I hoped he'd pull another magic trick out of his hat and come through it.
I have always had great admiration for Chip as a parent, professional and artist.
I'm so glad you mentioned his photography–it's truly breathtaking.
His stories of the lengths he'd go to get the right light–the right angle–were fantastic.
I've had one hanging in my home for well over a decade, where I look at it, every day.
I cannot say that we were close, intimate friends–but every interaction I ever had with him–well before Phish and up until last year–were unfailingly gracious,warm and smart.
We'd often talk more of parenting and photographs, rather than business at hand.
And yes, he was so proud of his children.
He was a man who had his priorities and perspectives right in life.
As "the best of the best," there was never a sense of ego or entitlement from Chip –that people who have accomplished far, far less over a fraction of the time could learn from.
I'll miss him.
Our business will miss him.
Thanks for writing a wonderful acknowledgement.
There was not a finer person in our business. He was so personable and loved. When Irv Zuckerman was running Clear Channel Entertainment I suggested to him that we ask the bookers who were their 3 best relationships with an agent. Then we would assign to the agent the booker who had the best relationship with him or her. We compiled the results and over 85% of the bookers chose Chip. That was remarkable. No other agent got even half that much. I always teased him about that and he was always embarrassed. How can everyone think they had a great relationship with this one person? But they did with Chip. So I have absolute proof that Chip was loved by so many. I will miss him terribly.
Live Nation President/Connecticut and Upstate New York
this is sad, very sad.
This is the most profound thing I have read in a long time and so true…
I have lost 32 people in 2 years.
The 'back 9' is tough as I am realizing at 58 years old and I lost some great ones on the front 9.
May you stay happy and well cause as an old friend of mine once said on his death bed from cancer…
"We are not here for a long time.. we are here for a good time"
Loving profile Bob of a member of our music family cut down too early. Rejoice with those still with us and be with us tomorrow.
Much respect for Chip. One of the reasons why so many of us love this business.
Thank you for this, we so wanted to present the Pollstar Award for Agent of the Year to Chip personally, but the only thing that mattered to him was seeing his son play ball.
Aren't we all lucky if we get to choose the way way go out. I am so proud we got to bestow the honor on Chip just a couple of weeks before he got to see his son play as he promised he would.
Thank you Dan & Fred for helping send a very powerful message from all of us in the industry how much Chip was respected.
Gary Smith / Pollstar
I love that you focused on his humanity because that was his most compelling asset. He was one of the great agents to be sure, but managed to remain a great guy the whole time. Kudos to Danny and Fred for knowing he was the one. They are very good at that.
Love you for this.
Thanks Bob. It's a sad day. Period.
Well said. He was relentless and tenacious in everything he did. Very sad day … A great loss for our industry and all those who knew him.
I can't believe that this "Force" is no longer with us.
Beautiful Bob. I've been trying to figure out how to properly process this huge loss. There is a massive hole in the world now, in music, photography, wine, sports, everything. He was a truly unique human being. A once in a generation character that really defined the adage "larger than life." This was a beautiful tribute to him, thank you.
A lovely tribute. Thanks.
This is beautiful.
Chip treated me with nothing but respect my entire career for the past 25 years. He was everything that's right in this business and this world.
Anthony @ Bowery Presents
Always so kind to me . I won't forget that .
GM/ Director of Booking
AUSTIN City Limits Live
Spot on, Bob.
Sometimes you 'hit the nail on the head' and sometimes just to the side. This one was 'dead-on'!
We're all just grains of sand on a HUGE beach. Some, a bit larger than others however, grains just the same.
Here's to THE GOOD ONES…..
Entourage Talent Associates
Thanks for this, Bob. Although I didn't know him as well as others, I couldn't agree more about Chip's ability to feel like a close friend within minutes. Every time I heard his voice on the phone, it was like hearing from family.
Saw Trey Anastasio a couple of months ago at the Fox in Oakland. Trey told the whole audience about Chip and his condition, saying he had been at the hospital earlier in the day visiting him. He had the whole crowd scream at the top of their lungs for Chip to recover soon. I've seen Phish over 50 times and this was the only time I ever saw Trey get that emotional on stage. To the point of tears. His words were " If it weren't for Chip, you wouldn't know about Phish". RIP.
Thanks for sharing this Bob.
Trey dedicated "Show of Life" to Chip at a recent show. Check it out…
So true man. Thank you.
On a day off in Worcester on Phish tour, Chip got 4 of us on the crew 4 tickets for game 2 of the world series at Fenway. Great seats between first and home! That was the only time the 4 of us had ever been to a world series game and it is something that none of us will ever forget for the rest of our lives!
nugs.net enterprises LLC
Great piece on Chip Hooper. He was the real deal. Not only did he do great work with Dave Matthews and Medeski, Martin & Wood and many others but he was a good guy who was passionate about many things. When I first moved to Carmel 9 years ago I went to a silent auction fundraiser for our local school and a photograph that he had taken was there. It was a spectacular shot of Point Lobos. I had no idea that he was a photographer and was blown away by it. A few years ago I ran into him at the Monterey Sports Center with his son Max who was home from Harvard. He told me about Max's basketball journey moving from Carmel to attend Brewster Academy in New Hampshire then on to Harvard. My son was just starting middle school so he was excited to meet Max. This weekend we had a basketball tournament in Oakland, CA and my son and a few friends were watching ESPN after a long day of games. They had a special about the Golden Grizzlies win over Detroit and showed Max running up the stairs to
give Chip a hug while his dad was strapped to a gurney. I had no idea that his illness had progressed so far so was shocked to see him like that. That was filmed only 9 days ago so it was a shock to hear the news today of his passing. He will be missed.
Carmel Valley, CA
I'm stunned. He was class when I met him back in Mpls. We were lucky to know him.
Bob – I went to grade school thru teen years with Chip and also worked for chicagoâ€™s celebration productions back in the day with bruce kapp, jane holman and big bob syzinski.
Anyway, love your post on Chip and your stuff in general. Big loss on this end. He was a true north kind of man.
Wonderful wring and sentiments. Never heard of Chip but it brought tears to my eyes. Hope I can live up to his standards. Thanks.
Beautifully written. Tragic. I met him but didn't know him. Based on this, I really wish that I had known him.
Thank you for this Bob.
Thank you again.
Chip was the agent for my two favorite bands. I've literally attended hundreds of shows that he booked. Although I only had the honor of briefly interacting with him twice, I sensed the charm and connection you referenced. Chip gave my good friend a job at MPA when they met at the Pollstar awards (she had spent all the money she had just to travel to the event). Whenever he came up in conversation, it was always his photography skills and dedication to his son's basketball talent that anyone mentioned. Chip deserves so much credit for helping bands create the tours I've enjoyed over the last 20 years, which allows me to live my life to the fullest.
It was 1985 or maybe 1986 when I first met Chip. We were at a NACA convention in Nashville at the Opryland Hotel. This was a convention of college buyers and Chip and I were representing our respective companies, he from Minneapolis and me from NYC.
After a day of being cooped up in the hotel and eating lousy convention food, we decided to go across the street and try Cracker Barrel. We loved it so much we decided to come back for dinner. The next morning I ran into Chip early and he asked if we would dare eat a third meal in a row at Cracker Barrel.
My face lit up and I said I was glad we were thinking the same thing and off we went across the street.
Fast forward to lunch time and I don't dare ask Chip and he does not dare to ask me, but we both end of asking others and we sat one table away from each other for our 4th Cracker Barrel meal in a row.
Chip and I remained friends ever since. I'll miss him.
BOB¦ITS ANOTHER GOOD ONE..MANY THANKS, DON GRAHAM
I have been reading your posts since I started in the music business back in 2004 working for Chuck and Don in Denver. I have always been a fan of your writing, but the last couple of years I have become a bigger fan. I feel like you get me, this industry and the craziness that surrounds it. You have the incredible ability to articulate what many of us are feeling. I know your first passion is music, but I think where your writing really shines are the emotional, motivating posts not about music.
This last post about Chip will be cathartic for many. What a tribute to him. And not surprisingly, after reading it, I wanted to be a better person and conquer the world.
Back in the early 2000s, I was booking some events. I was young, dumb and green. Chip and I were emailing a bit about some artists, that looking back he knew the events couldn't afford. That didn't matter to Chip apparently. He called me, I still didn't know who he was at the time, and spent 30 minutes with me speaking about these events and artists that might make sense. He seemed genuine in his interest of me and the events. Years later I realize how huge a 30 minute call to a young kid booking a couple events was, but Chip of all people took the time. That was one of only a handful interactions I had with Chip, but I'll never forget that first call.
The Madero Group
Alternative Power Productions LLC.
I don't think I have ever read a letter which has spoken to me more deeply and sincerely than this.
The Windish Agency
Got to meet Chip a number of times when Phish played the Campus Club in Providence where I was the GM. Good Man, the industry will miss him. So will humanity!
I wish I had met him. Nice piece bob.
Beautifully written Bob , thank you.
Thanks for that Bob. R.I.P. Chip
Thank you for your poignant and kind words. I feel as though I know Chip well now and I would have loved to have hung out with the cat! These words are healing and reassuring. RIP Chip Hooper. Peace!
Angelo J. Rossi
Hi Bob – going to save this one. I have a friend, 54, about to succumb. No nuclear family, no immediate family, so it's up to us friends to keep his spirit alive after he dies. It's a heavy burden but one I will try to carry lightly.
I love your writing… These tributes are beautifully done as the reader is invited to hear from your core, soul and heart.
My 26 year old son, Jordan, is in the hospital today facing open heart surgery. Your article encouraged me today.
I am sure the Mailbag responses for this one are going to be for the ages, because you hit the nail on the head – Chip was everyone’s best friend. One of the only people I have ever met that made you feel like you instantly mattered, in a industry where nobody gives a shit unless you can do something for them.
That was his magic, and he worked that magic from the receptionist, to the assistants, to the agents that worked under him. And it wasn’t a show, that was the thing. As a young agent he would ask my opinion on things; things that had to do with the direction of the company that were well above my pay grade. Then he would pick up the phone while I was sitting in his office and say "well Atamian thinks this or that."
I moved to Monterey from Chicago to start at MPA doing ticket counts in 2006. On my first day Chip came into the back room where I was working and we had a healthy debate about where in the city to find the best deep dish pizza. I was floored. The day I met Chip was probably one of the most surreal days of my life. He was exactly what I envisioned but the complete opposite at the same time. Larger than life, but took the time to shoot the shit with the little guy.
What Chip didn’t know was that during high school and college I would cold-email him and Coran, probably monthly, asking how I could work for DMB or Phish. I didn’t know any better.
So when I got a chance to move across the country to work in the same office as Chip, I didn’t think twice about the 50% pay cut I’d be taking or the friends and family I would be leaving behind. There was zero question. I was going.
And as I worked my way up and I was promoted to agent, Chip and I became fast friends. Then I signed The Lumineers and we got to work together, as colleagues. That still doesn’t feel real. This was the same guy who I would essentially send fan-mail to while I was in high school.
The band went from playing 250 cap clubs to amphitheaters in a year and I knew that I not only had a wealth of knowledge at my fingertips with Chip, but someone who was willing to share his experience. Someone who was a mentor to so many people already always had time for one more student.
We would talk about which venues to play, ticket prices, the right way to cut deals, which promoters work the hardest in each market it was the learning experience of a lifetime. And he was having fun too. It seemed like he would make a point to tell me that. That it reminded him of the early days of DMB or Phish and it’s always fun to see a career take off like that. He reminded me daily to enjoy the ride.
I got to see Chip four times in the months since he had the stroke. Every time except for the last visit, he was the normal Chip. Busting balls about work, asking what promoters he needed to call to push things over the goal line I was convinced that if he could just stand up and walk he would be back to normal.
The last visit, I had a feeling deep down that it was going to be the last time I saw him. I couldn’t put my finger on it. We talked briefly about life and then he took my hand and told me that he was proud of me and to always enjoy the ride. "Don’t take anything for granted. We have the best job in world, don't forget to act like it."
I won't ever forget that, or Chip.
Thanks for listening. I spent most of today ignoring calls, texts, and emails, and generally burying my head in the sand pretending that my mentor and friend wasn’t gone. Then I opened up my laptop to see your letter at the top of my inbox, and it was too easy to just start typing it felt good to write this and spend some time those memories.
There aren’t enough words in the dictionary to fully capture the feelings that I know so many are feeling today. Anyone who knew him lost a best friend, even if they only met him once.
Paradigm Talent Agency
I heard the news from Max just a few hours ago, as I was about to board a flight from Phoenix to JFK.
I thought about Chip the whole ride home.
He was a special man. More special than most people realize, even those who worked closely with him.
When I first met him, he impressed me, both as a businessman and as a person. But then he inspired me – his work struck a chord with me and reawakened a passion for photography that had faded over the decades.
As intense and frenetic as his professional life could be, his photography was all about slowing down, both in technique and representation.
Taking his time with extraordinarily long exposures, and then freezing the world around him with remarkable clarity and precision, Chip truly understood the urgency of stopping to appreciate those special moments and the beauty that surrounds us.
When 9/11 struck, and freaked the rest of us out, it was Chip who saw the opportunity to set up his camera at the beach, and open the shutter for hours so he could capture the paths of stars moving across the night sky without having his image ruined by those pesky jet planes that had shot across his photographic canvas every previous time he had attempted that picture.
Yes, Chip pursued and executed this unique yin and yang in his life with extraordinary passion. He personified the undeniable relationship between competitiveness and perfection. If one is motivated to achieve the latter, one must understand and practice the former.
Chip’s roster of clients may be a tribute of accomplishment in one regard, but his art, the images that adorn museum walls and the homes and working spaces of family and friends and strangers lucky enough to have discovered him, is the real lasting legacy to an extraordinary man and talent.
As you pointed out, Bob, Chip’s mantra was to live life to the fullest, but take the time to appreciate the magic around us. I will forever be grateful that our paths crossed so that he could convey that precious lesson to me.
And I know I'm not alone in that regard.
It's a sad day, but one not unexpected to me. He had always seemed bulletproof, and I had the greatest respect for him.
Chip and I have been inextricably linked since the early 90's. I was handling Widespread Panic, and they told me about a band I needed to check out. I went to Phish's first DC show, they had 200 people on a Wednesday night at a tiny club called the Roxy. They brought out the mini-tramps, and had Marley the road dog backstage. I was knocked out. Luckily, I was the first agent that John Paluska let book tours on the band. It was a magic time in the jam band band world.
After a couple of years of helping them grow, my small agency didn't even have a computer that ran the business. Those were the days of typewriters, phone calls and thermal paper faxes. Chip had approached them, and Phish, being the kind of guys they are, told Monterey that they would come there if they hired me. I respectfully declined, as I had a hard time seeing myself in Carmel, driving long distances and flying to every gig I wanted to go see. I lived in the DC area, all my friends were there, and it was so easy to get everywhere. I recall Chip telling me later he hadn't been home in eight weekends. That's the reason he was so successful, beyond his warm and honest demeanor.
I went on to handle The Samples, and put Dave Matthews on his first western tours, as the opening act. They were from nearby Charlottesville, and Coran Capshaw was the guy I booked shows with at Trax. The only band I ever saw in a club, that I thought would go on to play stadiums. But alas, Chip Hooper 2, me 0, and the rest is history. Chip and I stayed friends through it all, because I knew it was my decision to stay put.
In 2006 when my lungs began to fail, Chip was there to listen and was genuinely concerned. He wanted to be kept apprised of my situation. In fact, one of the last people I spoke to on my way to Duke hospital, to receive a double-lung transplant, was Chip. He was so positive, and told me it would all work out. He loved Duke, and had been mentoring a young black student there, because that's the kind of guy he was.
He was right, as he often was, and here I am 7 1/2 years later in better health than I was when I first met him. I would never have believed that day, that I would be the one here today writing this. You are right Bob, all the money, all the accolades, mean nothing in lieu of your health. I live every day, happy to be my own boss, grateful for my family, and loving that I get to go see music I love as part of my job. I wish Chip could too.
The concert business has lost one of its shining lights with the passing of Chip Hooper. One of the most unique things about Chip was his affability, almost an eagerness to talk to anyone who loved music. In my 23 years of producing/booking Humphrey's Concerts by the Bay in San Diego, I don't think Chip ever sold me a show. My 1,400 seat venue was way too small for Dave Matthews and Phish. Yet whenever I'd visit Monterey to see Fred Bohlander and Paul Goldman to book the likes of Lyle Lovett, Chris Isaak, Bonnie Raitt, Leo Kottke, or the Doobie Brothers, Chip would always call me into his office to shoot the shit, usually for 45 minutes at the end of the day. And he'd hold his calls. He knew that Humphrey's was important to his company, and that our mutual friends included Marc Geiger and Chuck Morris, so he made a real effort to get to know me, in spite of the fact that I wasn't spending money on his personal roster.
Mostly we ended up talking about photography, basketball, and other passions we shared outside of music. He bragged about his then 10-year old son Max, who was already hitting 90% of his free throws. Chip took Max to Golden State Warriors games and introduced him to NBA greats. Max has gone on to become a college basketball star and Chip, literally on his deathbed, flew out to Rochester, Michigan to see Max play last week. This heartwarming report from ESPN says and shows it all: http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=14856372
I'm glad that you mentioned that Chip was a world class photographer. His work is supernatural. He was represented by the esteemed Joseph Bellows Gallery in La Jolla and I'd make a point of popping into all of his openings down here to say hello. Not once did we ever talk about box office numbers or negotiating deals . . . we talked about photography, how his family was doing, and he'd ask my wife Helen questions about her painting and drawing techniques, even though he was meeting her for the first time.
I guess I'm trying to say that Chip was a multi-dimensional mensch who just happened to be the most decorated and admired agent in the business. He was compassionate, funny, made eye contact, and was universally loved. I'm blessed to have crossed paths with Chip Hooper in this lifetime and send heartfelt condolences to his family and his legion of friends and colleagues.
You don’t know me. I heard you speak once at what I believe was the inaugural EDM Biz conference many years ago, that took place right before Coachella.
I just had to reach out to thank you for writing this beautiful piece about Chip. It hurt my heart to read it because it was so accurate and clearly so deeply felt. You captured his essence and gave him the fitting tribute he deserved. I know you are feeling what I feel, no doubt to an even greater degree.
I told Rit Venerus recently that one of the gifts that Chip keeps on giving is having brought together this amazing circle of people. We may not all know each other already, but we recognize one another when we meet. We know that if someone was a true friend of Chip’s they carried a sort of stamp of approval, a marker of quality, of good human-ness. In my eyes, you now bear that marker.
Keep fighting the good fight.
I guess that's the way the world is these days, we get jarring news jumping off my computer screen.
I did not know Chip had passed.
And I'm sad.
I hadn't seen or spoke to him in a very long time. But every now and again I'd go get some inspiration by going and looking at his photography website – www.chiphooper.com
Chip was an extremely helpful agent to me back when I first got into presenting concerts at the Tarrytown Music Hall in NY in 1986. Back when I started you could roll a bowling ball down Main Street and not hit a car. It was going to be an uphill battle bringing shows to that dusty, musty old theatre run by a dedicated but wacky old couple.
He understood what I was trying to do, to revive an old theatre coated with the dust of those who'd gone before. He didn't seem to mind my long-winded stories of its history, of me telling him of taped interviews I'd done with the previous owners and the unofficial town historian, Wally Buxton.
He took a chance on my upstart career choice, and sold me some acts. He gave promotional suggestions. He nurtured me to a certain extent. I felt like our working relationship was more partnership than adversarial between agent and promoter.
I credit he and the late Manny Greenhill of Folklore Productions, along with artist manager Harold Leventhal as my mentors, even if they didn't know it.
So, I'm sad to learn the news, and to learn online that he was four or five years younger than me. It frightens me a little.
Fair winds along the rocky cliffs of California that you so loved Chip. And thanks for being my friend from afar.
Twin Cloud Concerts
This hit me hard. I’ve lost both my parents and my father-law to the BIG C (as we call it) in the last 5 years.
I’m not a close friend of Chip. However he was someone I always respected, admired and appreciated.
Years ago I was a ‘fresh-faced’ 21 year old manager from Virginia with a baby band who had just signed (a non-bidding war) deal with Epic. I was an outsider and not a major manager. I found myself in the lobby of a hotel at a music conference and noticed my band’s attorney (Elliot Groffman) holding court with a bunch of industry ‘players’. I sheepishly went to say hello and he quickly introduced me to everyone and they all said a quick hello and then went back to their conversation. They seemed to have no interest in engaging me or bringing me into their discussion. I lingered for a second wondering whether I should just walk away. I didn’t feel like I belonged there. Chip was in the group and (presumably) noticed my nervousness and walked around the other guys and engaged me. He pulled me aside. He told my I was in good hands with Eliiot. He then asked me about the band that I worked with and went as far as to ask about where I was from, how I got into the business, my
interests outside of music etc. Told me to reach out if I ever needed anything. He made me feel like I belonged in that group.
I haven’t had a ‘real’ job since that encounter and I’m still in the “biz". He provided some confidence that day and although we never worked together and only occasionally crossed paths I have always appreciated the attention he gave me all those years ago. Like you said, I will never forget him.
Chip Hooper, who was the Rainmakers booking agent from 1984-1998 and friend for life, passed away on Saturday after a long battle with cancer. Chip was from Chicago, and found Steve Bob & Rich when we were banging it out in the KC bars. He was 22 years old at the time. We called him "Mr. 110%" because that's what he promised, and always delivered. He brought us into the national scene, guided and advised us in getting management, record deal, European connections. We shared many many laughs and good times with him. Chip went on to be the absolute top in his field, working at Monterey Peninsula Artists and Paradigm Agency, being exclusive agent for Dave Matthews Band, Phish, and many others.
In our early days, Chip would call me at least every day, sometimes 2 or 3 times a day. We also called him "Chuck Hyper" for his boundless energy and enthusiasm. He LOVED music, but mostly he loved being the guy that made the wheels turn. He wanted everybody to win – artist, club owner, promotor, agent, record company. Everyone in the business knew Chip was on their side. Chip would for sure have been massively successful in his field, even without ever meeting the Rainmakers. But I feel certain that the Rainmakers would never have had the wonderful experiences that we did, if we had not met Chip Hooper.
Chip, see if you can get them to add a pizza to the contract, ok?
with love and gratitude,
A few individuals I would credit for building @ofarevolution's career. Chip was one of them. Rest in peace my friend.
I'm sure everyone is iterating the same sentiment in one for or another when they heard the news…. "one of the kindest and most thoughtful people in the business; if it wasn't for him…."
Well to add to the lamenting chorus, there would be no resurgence of The Newport Folk Festival without Chip Hooper… Period.
My mind is flowing with memories of my friend Chip.
I met Chip when I was in college and he was at Monterey, he let me book Cowboy Junkies into UCSD.
Then at A&M Records, he became my partner as we worked on Blues Traveler.
Then he was my ski racing buddy in Aspen. We raced slolam two years in a row. The second year we made a bet, if I won, he'd give me one of his photographs. If he won, I'd get him a box of Pokemon cards for his son. He won. But I still ended up with a Chip Hooper masterpiece which hangs in my house near the other one that my wife bought me a couple years later.
And Chip once gave me a shoe. A size 15 Air Jordan that belonged to Chris Webber. He said to me, "I know you are a basketball fan, I don't know anything about basketball." And if you are a friend of Chip's, you know how that turned out. He would later become the biggest basketball fan ever and that son (the one with the Pokemon cards), a star player.
Chip was a friend. He was a mentor. He was a guy I looked up to and a guy who would do anything for you. If you read this and you knew Chip, you'll be nodding your head saying, "amen!" If you didn't, well, Chip probably touched your life by guiding the career of one of your favorite live bands.
I am a lucky man to have known Chip. I am one of many who were equally as lucky.
I first met Chip when I managed a local band in Cleveland. Chip was a local agent in Chicago where the band had already established a following. Chip convinced me to have him book the band guaranteeing bigger deals. He did that. He moved to Minneapolis and took the band's booking work with him. When the agency there got a few bands record deals, they expanded their management wing and Chip was the catalyst to me joining him there managing the Rainmakers, Trip Shakespeare, the Suburbs and Mike Dungan's favorite metal band, Slave Raider. All mid 80's. When Chip got married, Bob from the Rainmakers sang at his wedding. Since this was the era of no brown M&M's in the rider, we wrote one for Bob's performance worth over a million dollars just for fun. Chip talked about this for years.
He was one of the most passionate people I have ever met. His enthusiasm knew no bounds. Bob and I talked for a while today, very hard to imagine he's gone.
It's been comforting to read so many nice things about Chip – I’ve read and reread these messages.
He and I were close and I loved him very much.
Chip's humanity, his ability to connect personally is what made him so magnetic and successful. This was his gift and it was one hundred percent authentic. He got right inside, and once there, that was it. You were on the Hooper train.
His sense of fairness and ability to look at the whole picture without compromise was matter of fact. One time I was really digging my heels in about some silly insurance point in a university rider for a Medeski Martin & Wood show. The phone rang, "Penta, you can be dead right about this and not earn tens of thousands of dollars, or we can just get this done." Needless to say, the show went on.
And there were many dinners and lots of wine – we joked about what Paradigm must have thought when they looked at the expense reports. Who is this Liz Penta and boy does she have expensive taste!! He was generous beyond. I love wine and I loved Chip’s love of wine, which is why I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I couldn’t really drink. I’m basically allergic to alcohol. His enthusiasm was so infectious I just tried to keep up, but I paid dearly. Somehow, the ride, the adventure was worth it.
And there was his life as an artist. We visited many galleries and museums over the years and I was always impressed with his knowledge of art history (mostly photography) and his incredible curiosity. He loved process, he wanted to understand every detail that went into making a specific work. I have some of his photographs and the 9/11 print Ron Fierstein mentioned is dear to me. He captured a rare moment in time when everything stopped, except the earth turning through a clear night sky.
Chip left nothing un-lived.
Standing in a field at Bonnaroo some years back, mud on our shoes, Riedel glasses filled with some exquisite grape magic in hand, he looked at me and said, "Penta, we're rolling." He was always rolling.
I will miss him very much.
Chip was always generous and helpful to me over the years, willing to give his time whenever I asked for assistance with an industry piece (and a couple times when I didn't even ask).
He spoke with me extensively both on and off the record during the writing of Ticket Masters (both the hardcover version and the paperback) and then took the time to call me after he read the book.
It was probably more fun to talk basketball with him (I’m a Celtics season ticketholder). He was so passionate when it came to Max. I can remember first speaking with Chip about Max back when he was still in high school and then watched him move from Harvard to St. John’s and now Oakland.
That footage where Max runs up the aisle and hugs his dad is such a beautiful, moving moment and really says it all (but it’s wonderful that you chimed in as well…)
I have known Chip for twenty years.
I was a guide for Buckhorn Llama Co. out of Bluff UT. We took people through the canyons of UT and AZ most notably Grand Gulch.
In the spring of 1996 Chip and his two friends Pete and Dave I believe came on a trip. Chip had his big wooden box camera and his friend Dave from Chicago had just lost everything he owned in a fire. Well Chip walks over from the Recapture Lodge where our base of operations runs out the back of the hotel wearing a fleece vest with the PHiSH insignia and I said, "nice vest". "Oh you like PHiSH? Well I'm their agent." I'm thinking to my self, yeah right….Well I'm like, "yeah i love PHiSH."
So we pack up and start the two hour trip to the trailhead to put in for an eight day trip through the canyon. As we're going up he's talking to his friend Dave and saying," Our guide is a PHiSH head, etc. and starts talking about how they covered Purple Rain by Prince, they are talking about high school, etc. Well at the time I had that Yellow Walkman that everyone had before iPods and I carried ten cassettes of Phish shows for a trip, I have something like a thousand shows, but can only fit ten tapes in my bag for a trip so I had to choose my shows for that trip. I just happened to have a show with PHiSH covering Purple Rain, so I cued it up and said, "Here you go. Purple Rain." Chip was so blown away that out here in the middle of nowhere, on a llama trip, his guide had that. He says to me "Dude, I'm your Ticketmaster!" To which I replied," Really? how about the new year's run at MSG 4 nights in New York?" Done. He gave me 6 tickets and 6 backstage passes. I took my parents and
some friends. What a blast! He was always so kind for the last 20 years making sure I always got to see the shows I needed tickets for. I'm talking hundreds of shows. So I always made sure he and his family were taken care of with their southwest adventures. I took Max, Val and Laura all over the southwest to hike, camp, and make photographs.
Most of Chip's southwest photos come from our adventures. I would carry his big ass camera across little tiny sandstone ledges so he could do his thing, which was AMAZING! He has such an eye for the right shots. I would even hike the trail the week before our trips and stash cases of beers, tequila, and so on, and then we were on a week long trip, knowing where we would make camp, while everyone was setting up their tents, etc, I would come wandering back into camp like, "Hey look what I found!" Chip was always amazed.
I love and miss that wonderful man! He was always the kindest, most genuine guy. So cool to watch Max and Val grow up. Great kids. I know Max will be raining those 3's for years to come, and Val is so smart she's going to rock it as well. Thanks for letting me share my Pooper experience. If you don't know what that's about then you don't know. R.I.P. Chip. I love you
Chip was a gentleman and a friend. I knew Chip since the mid 80’s. We met at outside of a NACA convention in Chicago close to midnight. He represented a Montana bluegrass band. I stood up for the big bucks and bought him dinner (probably a Whopper and French fries) at Burger King.
From then to a most recently we exchanged Burger King gift certificates never to be used by either one of us. We used to get a laugh about it.
Chip kept bugging me to book his new band The Dave Matthews Band at colleges. He said they were going to be the next big thing…yea right Chip. $3.5-$4,000 was a lot to pay for them. I think my office ended up booking about 25-30 dates soon after.
Next he laid on me the line about Phish becoming another big one. At least I knew about them from the New England college bookings.
Again, Chip was a friend and a gentleman and he will be missed. With Chip’s passing we lost the best of the best. He will be fondly
I wanted to drop you a note to thank you for the beautiful tribute to Chip Hooper. I found great comfort in reading your words. You should know this story…
I met Chip when he was 19 and I was 26. I was living in Peoria, IL when I got a knock on my apartment door. My downstairs neighbor said his son was part of a band out of Chicago, Pegr, and that his band was playing in Peoria for a couple of nights, could not afford a motel and could their manager and two of the guys stay at my place. I was leaving for the weekend with my girlfriend and you can only imagine the thoughts running through my head… my place was going to be trashed when I returned home. So I decided to wait and meet the band and their "manager," Chip Hooper… and I will remember that moment for the rest of my life. Before me was a force of nature, a 19 year old kid that had just quit college because he loved the music business and he was going to be a part of it… period. He knew what he wanted and was laser focused on his goal but this steely determination was uncharacteristically packaged in a kind and gentle soul, albeit exuberant.
When we returned from our weekend away, my apartment looked better than it did when we left and there was a thank you card on my kitchen counter signed by Chip and the guys in the band with a bottle of Bailey’s next to it. I remember telling my girlfriend, now my wife, "I need to stay in contact with this guy cause he’s going places." And going places turned out to be American Famous Talent in Chicago, Good Music Agency in Minneapolis, MPA in Carmel, and ultimately Paradigm.
Two years later, Chip called and needed to have a couple of Peoria attorneys flown to Chicago for a Styx concert. It may have been for business reasons or just Chip working his magic of which he was a master. That simple trip, like everything Chip touched, turned into a relationship and a 17 year engagement flying production people and occasionally artists for JAM Productions of Chicago.
As the years passed, we touched base about once every other year and our phone conversations were always lengthy, 90 minutes or longer and you knowing Chip, as busy as he always was, can appreciate the importance of that gesture. He always had time for a friend because you were important to him. We shared a mutual love of photography that I didn’t learn about until years after our initial meeting.
I specifically remember a conversation with him where we were discussing the underbelly of the music business and it was really weighing on him. I was telling him about a new venture I was starting and that my new company had to meet the following criteria… good for me, good for the employees and good for the community; a win win win situation and he said, "Well that’s where our business differs because only WE win in this business. It’s sickening, it doesn’t reflect my values and I am going to see that it changes." He was monolithic when it came to principles
Like yourself, when he told me he was sick he made me promise I wouldn’t Google it… he just said it was bad and he didn’t want the negative energy in MY life, not his.
As fate would have it, I hadn’t spoken with Chip for about 2 years when I ran into an associate of his, Ron Kaplan, here in Chicago only to learn he had suffered a stroke. I contacted his ex-wife Laura and Heather McSwiggin at Paradigm to come out to see him when he returned from his favorite place Sea Ranch at the end of this month and then got the news on Monday.
We lost an exceptional human being Bob… and I thank you for your talents in being able to communicate that far more eloquently than myself.
All the best,
Randy J. Africano CEO
Thank you for the beautiful & fitting tribute to Chip.
In reading it I was reminded of the first time I met you when the three of us had dinner in LA shortly after I moved to Monterey in 1996. I barely got a word in edgewise during the meal but it was a great dinner and my first encounter with you. It was clear by the way Chip spoke of you during the flight and the drive to dinner that he had enormous respect for you.
Reading your piece and the incredible comments and responses detailed in your mailbag, along with the many kind messages I’ve received since the world lost one of its greatest resources on Saturday, has been a real comfort. One of the messages I got was from Bill Walton who said "I am sad/sorry for Chip Hooper. Say a prayer, light a candle, make a difference, make life count. Good everything forever. Peace and Love, BW" Amen Bill.
Even though we were coming up in the Chicago music scene around the same time, I hadn’t actually met Chip until February of 1985, four weeks after I started my first gig as an agent in Boston. Years later, it was Chip's outreach and efforts that made it possible for me to join Monterey Peninsula Artists; He closed me too. Chip was my sponsor so-to-speak with Dan & Fred. I look back at those years with the same genuine reflection that a member of the ’85 Bears might have. It was divinely magic. The Holy Grail.
It’s unfathomable how a life-force as big as Chip can be gone. And profoundly sad. It keeps hitting me in wave after wave of emotion. Last Friday at Max’s final home game was one of the most emotionally charged experiences I’ve ever had. The look in Chip’s eyes when Max hit his first 3-pointer is something I’ll never forget. There’s a galaxy in Heaven for what Sam Gores did to make it possible for Chip to be there to see Max play one last time. Following the game when Max had come up into the stands to see his Dad, a few other players came up to pay their respects. Chip was talking to two of the players and said in a few months when he’s gotten through all of this, he’d like to have dinner with them and talk about the future. That was how strong Chip’s will and spirit was.
Chip had so many unique traits. No one had a first name with him. Nearly everyone, male or female, were known only by their last name. Even though we were thick as thieves, sometimes I wondered if he knew my first name. In the rare instance he wasn’t calling or referring to me by my last name, it was either Juan or JL, but mostly just my last name. When it came to busting chops, Chip was an equal opportunity employer, no one was spared unless he didn’t like them. That’s when you knew. If he didn’t bust your chops in some form or fashion, he didn’t like you. One night when I was still living in New York before the migration to Monterey, Chip & Dan came to my house for dinner. True to form, having met my wife only minutes earlier, and at our own dinner table, she soon fell victim to Chip’s chop-busting. I later explained it meant he liked her. We reflected on that again on Sunday.
A funny aside to that evening is while we were well into our discussions of my moving to Monterey to join them, we were both going head to head to sign the same band. Following dinner, Dan, Chip, and I drove to the Capitol Theater in Port Chester to go see the band, which was moe. I had been fairly along in the pursuit by that time and because I had been on it so early, I figured for sure I was going to get the band. Then well into the chase, suddenly a new hat was thrown into the ring. That hat belonged to Chip Hooper. When the guy who represented Phish and Dave Matthews enters the equation with a young jamband like moe., and that guy was Chip, I knew that very moment I was screwed. Even though we had just had dinner togetherin my home, Chip had Dan set a pick and talk to me in the lobby of the Capitol while he went backstage and closed the deal with the band. That was Chip. It was literally impossible to say No to him. That was part of his charm and his character. He was tenacious
as well as laser-focused. And he forgot nothing; he could remember what he was wearing and what he had for breakfast on a specific day decades earlier. In fact, during a recent visit with him at home three weeks ago, I had spent the afternoon with him, then as his doctor came by, I left for dinner with Dan & Ellen. I came back after dinner and the two of us talked literally for hours. He was sharp, alert, and talking about the future and the work he had to do for Ron Delsener’s 80th birthday party in July. He also had a zillion thoughts on the Lifetime Achievement Award that Dan & Fred were being presented that same week and had hoped it would be as great and fitting as the two men who were being honored. While talking, out of the blue he was able to recall the lunch we had after the panel we did at the Performance Magazine Summit in San Diego when he first floated the idea of my relocating to Monterey. He remembered the Caesar salad with shrimp he had for lunch that day as if it
He did nothing in half-measures. If he got into something, he was all in. Be it friendship, trying to sign a band, make a deal, bring someone into our fold, music, photography, basketball, wine, anything. He had to be the best and know the most and be the most dialed in. His commitment to excellence had no equal. While he was a no-frills guy in some respects, his taste for the fine things he liked was exquisite. He was the most deliberate and competitive man I’ve ever known, no wasted effort, did everything with purpose. When he first started collecting wine, my friend Jerry Harrison invited me to see a band play up in Marin. Chip & I drove up from Monterey. Before the show, we stopped at a wine shop in Mill Valley where he spent five thousand dollars on four or five bottles of wine, one of which was a $3500 bottle of Grace Family Vineyards. My jaw hit the floor. Another night, he called me after work and we were having a long conversation, (no conversation with Chip was ever
short) and finally he said 'fuck this, I’m coming over.' Not ‘do you mind if I come over’, just ‘I’m coming over’. He called as he was driving over Laureles Grade which separated our houses and told me to buckle up as he was bringing something special. When he arrived, which was already around 10pm, he had a bottle of Harlan, the likes of which I’d never seen nor tasted before. And this was just the beginning of his fascination with wine. I’m glad you also mentioned his photography – his work is world class great. The darkroom he built in Monterey I'm certain has no equal. He was an artist in the truest sense, and in a real way he was the grand-student of Ansel Adams and the Westons, given that he lived, worked, and shot in the same area they did and some of his photographic and developing techniques were imparted to him by those who worked directly with them. Chip would love to talk about his love of this medium and like anything else he got into, he possessed a
veritable wealth of information it. Whenever he talked about photographing, he would never say he'd 'take a picture,' instead he would 'make a picture.' There was a big difference between the two in his eyes. An early review of his work once referred to him as "the man of velvet and steel…" The velvet being the soft artistic side as a photographer, the steel being his iron-clad business sense that led to his stature as a giant in the music business. That year for his birthday, I had a picture I’d taken of him photographing with his 8×10 on the Big Sur coast framed in a steel frame with a velvet matte.
To be sure these stories could go on forever. My stories would likely pale in comparison to the hundreds if not thousands of other people out there whose own accounts of their exploits with Chip could dance circles around mine. As you pointed out, he was everyone’s best friend. Hence the intense outpouring of grief from so many across such a wide swath of people from all walks of life – the man left a lasting impact with anyone and everyone he came in contact with; moreover, he didn’t drift in and out of people’s lives. He stayed in touch with people forever. That is just a part of what makes his loss so unfair, it’s not that he had so many acquaintances, he had so many true friends.
Like any set of brothers, at times, our relationship could be complex, but our connection was forever strong. As Bob Weir said in summary of the bond that existed within the Grateful Dead, "…they say that blood is thicker than water and what they had was thicker than blood." That’s how I felt about Chip and how I feel to this day about the bond we had at Monterey Peninsula Artists. I loved that man with all my heart. We were the same age yet I looked up to him in every respect. He was the genuine article. So strong was the connection I felt with him that late in the afternoon on Saturday, I had a terrible sense of uneasiness. I couldn’t put my finger on what it was but I was very much out of sorts. I did something that I can’t recall ever doing – I got in my car and drove. For a couple hours. With no purpose or destination, I just drove. When I got home, it still felt like something wasn’t right and had a very sleepless night yet I somehow missed Jackie’s message and
it wasn’t until very early Sunday morning when I spoke to Dan did I learn that Chip had passed away. As Sunday drifted into a haze, I had completely forgotten about the drive the day before. But as I spoke more and more with my extended Monterey family, I recalled it. The aimless drive and sense of emptiness I was experiencing on Saturday took place during the time that Chip suffered his second stroke.
In reflecting on Chip’s life and the very small role I played in it and while ruminating on the painfully sad reality of his passing and being completely grief stricken, I’ve been trying to think of the best way to describe him, his warrior spirit, his enormous heart, his big smile, and his willingness to do whatever it took to win – be it in life, music, art, Max’s basketball, Val’s education, or his battle against cancer these past four years. In doing so, I can think of one word that could be used to describe Chip. And while I would never for an instant would attempt to summarize a life force like Chip in a word, there is one word that I think could suffice, one of the most potent words in the English language. Mettle. Mettle is defined as a person’s ability to cope well with difficulties or to face a demanding situation in a spirited and resilient way. Synonyms for the word Mettle are listed as spirit; fortitude; strength of Character; moral fiber; steel (that word
again); resolve; resolution; backbone; grit; true grit; courage; courageousness; bravery; valor; fearlessness; daring. Chip Hooper defined Mettle.
My life was made infinitely better because Chip was a part of it. I'm glad I got to say that to him so many times over these past few years. For those of us left behind, our mission and purpose is simple – continue doing great things, never settle for anything less, and live every day with purpose, dignity, and grace. And to kick some serious ass.
Rest In Peace Brother.
It is so sad to hear of Chip’s passing, it really is. What a nice man, plus he changed the music world with his passion for a few great acts that will remain huge the rest of their lives, if they so choose.
Chip and I discussed cancer on a number of occasions, he was interested in mine and how I dealt with it, but he had a completely different kind, and another type of treatment.
He had a lot more to give to the world he had given so much to already…life to kids, life to rock stars careers…
I will repeat what I have said so many times since I was given the bad stage 3 colon cancer news a dozen years ago: get checked. Regularly. Early. Get your colonoscopy, get your insides cheeked, the prostate exams, the whole thing.
It is so much more fun to live and you can continue to by learning early. And you can’t do that unless you make the appointment NOW.
I am living proof that it works. If something doesn’t feel right, go use that insurance card baby…you are never too busy to make a call on a doctor who can help you out. Trust me.
Don’t sit there at home, it ain’t gonna fix itself. If you go get checked and prevent this terrible thing from claiming your life or some else’s you know, think of Chip and thank him…because if you read this and take care of business, you can stick around a while longer.