Jim Guerinot, former general manager of A&M Records, who later managed Nine Inch Nails, No Doubt, Social Distortion and other bands, worked for A&M co-founder Jerry Moss, who died Wednesday (Aug. 16) at 88, and its president, the late Gil Friesen, for years in the 1980s and 1990s. The retired music executive saluted his former boss in a phone interview.
“We had an artist who was getting to release an album and had a capable manger. I put the whole plan together. When I ran the numbers, I saw that we were going to lose money. I said, ‘I’m not going to get hung,’ so I went to Jerry: ‘Here’s the plan, the manager has signed off.’ He goes, ‘Well, good, what’s your concern?’ I go, ‘Well, we’re going to lose money because the artist will not sell records to make that happen.’ I said, ‘Can I ask you a question? Why would we put this record out?’ He goes, ‘Well, that’s easy. Because it’s an A&M artist.’ It was very much like, ‘The ‘M’ is me, pal. If I want to, I do it.’
And that’s how he slept at night and that’s how he and [Herb Alpert, label co-founder] slept at night.
From time to time when I arrived at work at A&M, I’d pass the main guys’ doors: Herb might be painting, and would invite you in to see what he’s up to to; Gil Friesen, the label president, inevitably would push a book on me and expect a report within days; and Moss wanted to play a few hands of gin. Generally speaking, if you and I play gin, I’m going to beat you. I have friends who played in the World Series of Poker and I win at least half the time. I not only never beat [Moss] at gin, I never even won one hand. It was depressing.
This guy had a vision for the business that was beyond what normal people would see. He walked into a room and saw things we didn’t see. He walked into situations and businesses and saw things we didn’t see.
He knew everybody, for starters. Like, literally, everybody.
Where somebody might see an artist, he would see a network of what that artist represented, and relationships and history. It was just much, much deeper. What he saw wasn’t what I saw. He read people differently. He read people very, very well. He knew people who were going to be honorable and who would not be.”