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TONY WEBB

After 30 years at the helm Tony Webb, Gary Numan’s dad and Manager decided to retire from management. Tony Webb has now retired handing the rains over to Ade Fenton & Steve Malins . Gary has always had his family working closely with him throughout his career simply due to a trust issue. His mum Beryl Webb managed the clothes on tour, and more importantly she ran the fan club from its beginning in 1980 to its new Incarnation Alien.

Allowing Family to run the business side of his career has been a positive experience for Gary. Beryl still worked as well as maintaining the Numan Empire in the early days. His Dad with no knowledge of the music business in the beginning became quick to pick up the knowledge he needed to steer Gary in the right direction. Gary simply trusted everything to them which can't be said for 95% of the so-called top music managers in the business today, and why shouldn’t he they are his mum and dad.

Gary states many times in his Autobiography "Praying To The Aliens" that his father saved them from a difficult situation many a times, which outside management just wouldn't do.

You can certainly say that both Tony & Beryl have put 100% into everything. Ensuring that the fans have always had a personal touch from either his fan club or encounters with them, instead of statements by third parties and countless press conferences which a lot of today's artists hide behind.

When I have corresponded with Tony in the past he always answered emails, a true gent. We all would like to say a big thank you to Tony for 30 years of fantastic organisation of tours, you have done a fantastic job and I’m positive you will be missed, by myself and thousands of other numanoids around the world......

This photo was taken in Germany, When Gary, Tony and Beryl met up with Garys German record label - TELDEC

Tony & Gary on a tour bus somewhere in  America

The following interview originally appeared on the Photograph website thanks to Andrew Ellison. 

A brief interview : Tony Webb, Gary Numan's manager & father

First of all thanks for taking the time out to answer questions for our interview feature:-

Q: What was the reason behind managing Gary?

Tony: We looked at several managers with no success, (the general idea they had seemed to be, what can I get from managing Gary, not, what can I do to further Gary's career for our mutual benefit) and we eventually decided that I would do my best in that function, with some help from Beggars, until we found the right manager.

Q: When you started out managing Gary, what sources did you use for learning what must have been a hostile environment?

Tony: Common sense plus a little later a very good lawyer called Mike Eaton.Gary made all creative/career decisions, I looked after the business/contract side.

Q: Do you think that a different Manager would have been able to shield all the backlash Gary received mainly from the UK press in the early 80's?

Tony: I really don't know for sure but I have always felt that had we managed to find a really good professional manager in the early part of Gary's career, he would still be at the very top today.

Q: Speaking to people in the past some have blamed yourself for choosing such single releases as "Heart", did you ever have any say in advising Gary which single would be the best to release, or was this always Gary's decision?

Tony: This is the creative side and very much Gary's, with lots of advice from the rest of the world.

Q: When the Day comes for you to retire, what are yours & Gary's plans, would he continue without his Dad managing him, as he has said many times in the past that he couldn't do it without his family been involved.

Tony: Gary is married now so he has extended his family, and has that extra support. I think that I will probably be involved for many years yet.

Q: Would you say that Gary is been realistic regarding the budget for any tour he now plans, and has he started to listen to your advice which wasn't always the case over the years.

Tony: Gary is well aware these days of the need for realistic budgets, and he is as keen as I am to get them right.

Q: What are the realistic targets in today's climate the Gary could achieve, do you ever think he could ever be as big as he was in the early 80's, does Gary want to be?

Gary would not expect to be as big as he was in the eighties, but all the time that you are writing and recording/performing new material, you never know, and that can be exciting. You have to be in the game to win.

Q: Now that Gary is married to Gemma, does he seem to be more settled and focused on his ideas?

Tony: He could best answer that, I know that he is very happy as a married man.

Q: Gary has stated that "Eagle Records" have signed him for the next album, why is this? A lot of people assumed Gary had a record deal for three studio albums!

Tony: All deals are options on the side of the record company, i.e. this deal was for an album with them having an option on a further two. They have exercised their option for album two which Gary should deliver to them before the end of 99, which gives them one further option.

Q: Obviously Gary used to get a lot of fans converging on his home, as his parents, did either you or Beryl ever get the same or have fans generally left you alone?

Tony: We used to get a lot of fans in the early days but it was never a problem and it does not happen these days.

Q: If you ever could look back at Gary's career, and yourself could have changed anything, what would this have been?

Tony: With professional management from day one Gary would have been at the very top throughout his career, I am convinced of that.

Q: What is John doing these days, there were rumours of him recording an album, will this ever take place?(John Webb Gary's Brother and ex-Keyboard player).

Tony: He is now a Captain on 737's for Go (British Airways), he still has an interest in music. Album? I doubt it.

Q: If you had a say, would there have been any style or kind of music that you would have liked Gary to do?

Tony: Not really, I listened to chart music as a youngster and was always up to speed with the top twenty etc. but I,m not a strong music fan, I just like particular tracks, mostly country.

Q: Do you listen to any of Gary's songs, which musically is your favourite GARY NUMAN track?

Tony: I listen to all of Gary's new material as he writes it, over the years he has written a lot of brilliant songs but my favourites would be almost any of his ballads.

This interview was conducted via E-mail in early July 1999, by Andrew Ellison who would like to thank Tony for his very quick response to these questions.

Paul & Tony Wembley

Beggars Banquet boss Martin Mills with Beryl & Tony

Beryl & Tony 

Gary & Tony

 Tony

This interview is taken from In The City issue 18

The first in an occasional Series that takes a look at those people who usual1y remain anonymous but are in some ways as important to the success of their particular operation, as the artists themselves.

This issue, BEHIND THE SCENES looks at the main man behind the huge industry that has built up around young Gary Webb, better known to his thousands of loyal fans and followers, as Gary Numan.

Father

Machine Music, a phrase often used to describe the kind of music bands like Ultravox and Tubeway Army were playing in 1978, nowadays serves as a very apt and fitting title given to the business operation behind Gary Numan. At the forefront of this operation, is one Tony Webb, who is not only Gary’s manager but is also in the rather unique position of being his father as well. Besides coping with all the managerial duties that an artist of Gary’s statue demands, Tony Webb is also responsible for many of the business arrangements surrounding Gary’ e many assets, which include NUMANAIR, his air-charter company, NUMAN MUSIC, his own publishing company ROCK CITY STUDIOS, (which Gary holds a Sizeable share in) and their off-shoots SCRATCH RECORDS and PERFORMANCE MUSIC, even down to a cafeteria in Hounslow, Middlesex, called “THE COFFEE POT”.

Son

All this must add up to a pretty hectic lifestyle and quite a change from working as a driver for BRITISH AIRWAYS, as he did just over two years ago. Having talked Tony into being interviewed (“Mr Webb there is no way out”), we find ourselves sitting in front of his desk at MACHINE MUSIC’s headquarters in West London. Tony is seated behind the half-moon shaped desk in one chair of his medium sized office. A very confident man, who is both relaxed and cool as well as shrewd and very aware. He has a great sense of humour but often comes out with the silliest of jokes which none the less will have you in stitches of laughter simply because they’re so incredibly daft!
Having said all that, he’s always striked us as a very sincere person and in our opinion, always takes whatever he does, very seriously indeed.

Manager

Tony Webb had no hesitation in answering our first question regarding whose idea it was for him to manage Gary Numan. “I was asked originally, by Beggars Banquet, in the early days and I turned it down because I didn’t feel that I could. But as I got more and more involved with Gary and saw more of what went on around him and seeing the areas of corruption that were there, and all the ways in which mismanagement could have coat Gary a fortune - Because at the end of the day, whatever a tour coat and whatever it lost, it was Gary’s money that was at stake. For example, if someone who couldn’t care less is putting a tour together, he could lose Gary possibly ten or twenty grand more than he’ d need to and it was this sort of thing, coupled with the fact that Gary is not the sort of person who needs a manager who’s going to say “you’ve got to do this or that”, because Gary’s the sort of person who’ll decide for himself what he will and what he won’t do anyway! All he needs is someone to make sure that what he does decide to do, actually happens. So it was really a combination of all these thing that made me feel that I should at least have a go at it” What about Tony’s lack of know-ledge in management? “Originally I was a bit hesitant because of my lack of knowledge because at that time it seemed that you’d need to have a lot of experience in the business to be able to successfully manage someone. That’s what I felt then but the truth of the matter is that most people in the business are very young anyway and I personally don’t think that they’ve got that much experience, I feel that there’s so much huff and puff and bluff involved. I think to manage someone is more common sense than anything else, especially in Gary’s case, where he virtually manages himself. I mean, I don’t make decisions for Gary in a way that a lot of other managers do”. We asked whether Tony felt it was a big step to take, having to give up working full time in order to manage Gary? “No , no t really because I’ve never had a job for longer than three, four or maybe five years and I’ve only ever done driving type jobs it’s not as if I’ve been fighting my way through for years and was half way up the ladder at something and was throwing it all away and going back to square one. I mean, I could go back tomorrow and get the same job that I had two years ago, before I started working for Gary. You see, it was never a case of me being ‘eager’ to manage Gary; it was a case of me doing what I thought was the best for him. It was on this basis that I took the job and I probably would still have made that decision even if I was near the top of some ladder at that time, because I really felt and still feel, that this whole music business is very cut throat and fraught with all sorts of dangers. I’m absolutely convinced of that and I think that Gary, although he is brilliant in his own side of things, is far too trusting with people. Y’know, anybody with a smooth tongue could have talked Gary into bloody near anything - I’m sure of that! I think that all sorts of people could have got at him in various ways over this period, especially now that he’s got success going for him and there is lots of money involved. All sorts of people come up with all sorts of schemes and from that side of things, I think that Gary definitely needs some sort of management but with his interests at heart.”

Conflict

Tony Webb went on to explain that his interest in Gary as a manager coincided exactly with his interests as a father, because as a father “You want the best for your kids whatever they’re doing whether they’re driving a van or whatever” Tony continues, “if you’re a decent sort of parent you try and help your children do whatever they’ve chosen to do and that’s exactly the same, in my opinion, as managing Gary. So Tony the father and Tony the manager can be described as the same thing but the thought immediately comes to mind, of conflict between the two, especially as Gary is now employing his own dad? Tony Webb is adamant that this is not so, adding: “but if Gary wanted to get heavy about it and threatened me with the sack and all that type of thing then it would cause conflict and bloody quick! But that would not happen in actual fact because Gary is not that sort of person.” Gary Numan and his dad have absolute trust and respect for each other, it’s this, and probably more than anything else, that makes the combination work. Tony has always shown an interest in both of his two sons Gary and John, like most fathers he takes a great deal of interest in what they do. Where he differs from most fathers though, is his active interest in them, with his wife Beryl, usually some-where playing an active part but keeping very much in the background the Webb family are a very close unit. They seem to generate their own enthusiasm and are able to encourage each other when going through a rough patch. Tony recalls the early days of Gary’s career, long before the Beggars Banquet deal: “When I think about it properly, in a way I was a little bit stupid I suppose because I had a bit of savings which I had got together over the years and by the time Gary had that first bit of success, I’d just about got to the stage where I was actually starting to borrow money to finance what he was doing. In other words, I had spent all my own savings, which at my age, what was I fortyish was a bit bloody stupid. If you think about it, to spend all your savings at that stage in your life on something that way or may not come to anything, especially when you consider that hardly anyone ever gets anywhere in this business, compared to those that try, it was a bit wreckless I suppose.” You don’t need us to tell you the feelings between the British press and Gary but we were quite surprised how Tony Webb views the whole situation: “Well because of the slagging that Gary usually manages to draw from the British press in particular, he’s in a situation now where he prefers not to talk to them. I mean, there are one or two people that he dose talk to because he’s always had, what he considers to be, a fair hearing from. But the bulk of the press journalists just take a great delight in slagging Gary and always have done. I personally think the reason the press slag people like Gary is to create more sales for themselves because I’ve spoken to people in the press and they openly admit that they sell sore papers by being controversial than they would by being all ‘nice’ and sweet that’s a fact. They know their business and they know that type of press sells more papers and that’s why they do it my opinion.” The question still remains though, why Gary Numan? “Gary’s contributed towards it by his own openness and his own honesty when he talked to the press in the past. He gives them information and so such stuff from the controversial side, that even if they are reasonably decent people, they can’t resist working on it. Now if Gary was to manipulate the press, the way that many others in the music industry do, then things might be a lot different. You see, most people do tend to tell the press things that they want the press to print and I entirely agree with that idea, I personally think that you should try and use the press but I am not Gary and Gary isn’t me.

Spiders

When Gary is in a situation like this, he will say honestly what he thinks and what he feels, whereas I think most people wouldn’t. Like, if somebody for example asked Gary if he was scared of spiders? Now if he was, I don’t think he is, but if he was, he would say, “yes, I am”, whereas most people would answer “Me, scared of spiders, no! I love ‘em”.
Having said all this though, Tony openly admits that he taken the insults that are directed at Gary, very much to heart and claims to feel like going up to those responsible and punching them all straight on the nose but adds “Y’know, if I had the opportunity and I was big enough and tough enough I‘d do it but it would be a bit difficult and I might get knocked back once or twice”, his face beams with laughter before continuing, “so on second thoughts I might give that idea a miss”.

The Greatest

After nearly two years of handling Gary Numan’s business affairs, Tony Webb claims that the main person to have really helped him is his solicitor who he considers to be ‘the greatest’ Tony first got involved with him at the time Gary was signing the contract that he is now under with both Beggars Banquet and WEA. The solicitor managed to convey to Tony all the technical jargon in a way that he could understand and pick up on. Tony was then able to look at the contract and think ‘well I don’t quite agree with this and that’. Nowadays though, Tony finds that he doesn’t have to turn to the solicitor quite so much but recalls that during the first year he wouldn’t even consider walking across the room without checking with him first. As the solicitor predicted at the time, it’s now becoming less and less necessary to do this because a lot of things that come up now, Tony has been through before and he’s now more aware of what is going on.

The Future

So Tony Webb at the moment anyway feels very confident and capable of looking after Gary’s affairs but what of the future now that Gary has decided to tour again? “I am pleased that Gary has decided to tour again, I know how much he enjoyed the live shows before and how much that close contact with the fans means to him”, Tony confesses that he always thought at the back of his mind that Gary would tour again. “At the time Gary really did believe that it was the end for him as far as live performances were concerned but I always knew that the day would come when that old craving for the thrill and excitement of being on a stage would return and I’m as pleased as his thousands of fans are that this dream has become a reality.”

Tony Webb Interviewed by Pete `N’ Frank

Sharing a joke with Pete & Frank

Tony with Martin Mills head of Beggars Banquet

Tony Giving Harry Isles (Tour Manager) A Final Briefing

Gary & Tony

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