Ed Bicknell

United Kingdom

Special Guest: 

Music Manager for Dire Straits, Mark Knopfler, Gerry Rafferty, Brian Ferry and Scott Walker.

Promoter of Pink Floyd, The Who, Hendrix and The Moody Blues.

Agent for Taking Heads, The Ramones, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Ike and Tina Turner, Elton John and many more.

A legendary manager, agent, promoter, and drummer Ed Bicknell got this start in the music industry as the head of the entertainment committee at Hull University.  There he booked acts whose albums would become mainstays in everyone record collection (or playlist) while their posters and album artwork would decorate the walls of every music lover’s den from Sofia to St. Louis . . . and beyond!

In the late 1960’s, Ed started by booking the band Pink Floyd, reportedly for the paltry sum of £100! His events calendar also included bands like The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Muddy Waters, The Kinks, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Led Zeppelin, and The Moody Blues.

After graduating with a degree in Social Studies, Ed moved to London to pursue a full-time career in the music business. While playing in several bands as a drummer, Ed became a booking agent at John Sherry Enterprises and later NEMS, the latter being linked to one Brian Epstein, a.k.a. the Fifth Beatle. At NEMS he handled the booking of bands like Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Ike and Tina TurnerElton John, Richie Havens, War, and The Ramones. He also started to manage artists, the first of which was Gerry Rafferty.

On December 13, 1977, Ed was invited to check out a new band just signed to Vertigo Records, a subsidiary of Phillips / Phonogram. The name of the band was Dire Straits. After hearing three songs, Ed had already made up his mind that he would book AND manage the band. Ed put Dire Straits on as a support act for a tour that he was setting up for the Talking Heads. Ed paid Dire Straits £50 per night, which was a significant increase from what they were getting at the time performing at clubs. The rest, as they say, is history. Ed managed Dire Straits into global stardom with sales of over 150 million records to date. In 1985, Dire Straits released one of the world’s best-selling albums, Brothers in Arms. After the dissolution of the band in 1993, Ed stayed on as Mark Knopfler’s personal manager.

He is a founder-member and former Vice-Chairman of the International Managers Forum (IMF) which exists to deal with industry-wide matters where they affect artists and their management.  In September 1998, Ed was presented with the prestigious Peter Grant Lifetime Achievement Award at the International Managers Forum annual British Music Roll of Honour.

In the late 2000’s, Ed was hired to set up the set up the music department of William Morris Endeavor, the largest talent agency in the world.  After two years he returned to music management and worked as managing director of the companies Damage Management Ltd and Musicworks Ltd, based in the UK.

In recent years, Ed has made frequent appearances on radio and television to discuss music industry issues and has carried out over 80 interviews with leading music industry figures and artists at conferences and in educational establishments. Some of his interviewees include Walter Yetnikoff of Sony/Velvel, Clive Davis of Arista, Freddy DeMann of Maverick (the former long-term manager of Madonna), Sir George Martin, Atlantic Records founder Jerry Wexler, music industry lawyer Allan Grubman, Alice Cooper, Malcolm McLaren, Wolfman Jack, Miles Copeland, the manager of The Police and Sting, Led Zeppelin’s manager, Peter Grant, and the Kinks Ray Davies.

With his long and varied career, Ed has a wealth of stories and insight to share with freshly-minted and veteran music industry professionals alike.  SPIKE Bulgarian Music Showcase is deeply honored to host Ed Bicknell as a special guest for our 2023 edition.