How did you end up partnering to promote shows at the Bowl?
Hewitt: Bill had his own independent, successful concert company. I had been managing bands with Arnold Stiefel [Simple Minds, Gene Loves Jezebel], and as a friend once said, "What's great about promoting is, INXS comes to town, you see them for a week or two, and then you don’t see them again for two years and everything is fresh and exciting." I took his advice and thought about getting back into the concert business. The opportunity at the Bowl came along and we’d done things together and were good friends, so it made a lot of sense.
What do you remember about your first Bowl show, Paul Simon, in 1991?
Silva: It was the second time he was coming through, and the sales weren’t what we hoped they’d be. A few weeks before the show, [the promoter] called to [say Simon was] doing a free Central Park show that was going to be on TV and radio. We went berserk and said, “You’re out of your mind. Nobody’s going to come see [our] show.”
Hewitt: Then, [Simon’s business manager] Joe Rascoff called and said, “It’s going to be great publicity.” And it was.
Silva: We were selling 20 tickets a day. The day [after the Central Park concert], we sold 1,500 tickets. Our show sold out.
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You have two years left on a nine-year deal with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, which operates the Bowl. How do you divvy up the dates?
Silva: Oct. 1 to June 15 is our primary period, then the Philharmonic takes over from June 15 to Sept. 30. You’ll occasionally see us do a couple of nights [during the Philharmonic’s season].
In 1991, you paid the L.A. Philharmonic on average $50,000 rent per show. How much has that gone up?
Hewitt: A big show with an artist like Sting, the gross was $500,000 [then]. Now it’s what? $1.5 million? $2 million?
Can we extrapolate that you’re paying the L.A. Phil about 10 percent of the gross potential per show?
Hewitt: Yeah. It’s no secret that we pay substantial rent. The artists are aware of it, and it goes to a fabulous organization.
How did your 2011 partnership with Live Nation change the shows that you bring to the Bowl? Does it give you deeper pockets?
Silva: No, it’s not about paying more. It was about having an alliance that would incentivize everybody to want to put on shows at the Bowl. There are a lot of choices in L.A., so anything we can do to try to find a little advantage here and there...
Speaking of, the city of Los Angeles decided to take over the Greek Theatre in 2016 after Nederlander Concerts had operated it for decades, also declining Live Nation’s bid. What’s your take on that contentious decision?
Hewitt: The Nederlander [family] operated the venue for about 40 years and I don't think they reinvested the amount of money that was necessary to continue as a great venue. It made sense for the city to take it back. The Nederlanders weren’t paying a lot of rent, under $2 million a year, and [the city's Department of] Parks & Recreation, along with the management company they’ll bring in, will have success.
Who's on your wish list for the Bowl?
Silva: Bruce Springsteen. We'd love U2.
Any artist who wasn't invited back?
Hewitt: Courtney [Love], who came back.
In 2001, when she was opening for Jane's Addiction, you unplugged her and then security physically carried her offstage, right?
Hewitt: She wanted to finish not just the song we allowed her to finish, but a couple of additional songs.
And she came back in May for the first time with Lana Del Rey.
Hewitt: Courtney was fabulous. Bill and I visited with her and had a laugh about that.
It was 14 years ago, but everyone still remembers.
Silva: She sure did. (Laughs.)
Which one of you is the good cop, and who’s the bad cop?
Silva: Like everything else, we trade off. It’s a very fluid partnership.
What's your favorite memory of a show you presented at the Bowl?
Hewitt: [Jimmy] Page and [Robert] Plant in 1998. It was two-and-a-half hours of one perfect song after another. After the show, I went backstage and said, "That was the best I've ever seen you two perform." And Jimmy says, "That's the best show we've ever done." I said, "As Page & Plant?" And Robert said, "Including Led Zeppelin." So Bill and I got to promote the best Page & Plant or Led Zeppelin show ever.
This article first appeared in the June 20 issue of Billboard.