Robert "Bobby" John Engel, booking agent, president and owner of Variety Artists International, Inc. died Aug. 14 at his ranch in Creston, Calif., with his wife Claudia Salot-Engel by his side. He was 73 years old.
Engel's long career in music began in the 1970s in Minneapolis when he was hired by Gordy Singer and Lloyd St. Martin, senior partners of Variety Artists International, to work as a junior agent. He became friends with fellow newbie Rod Essig, who went on to serve as co-head of music in CAA's Nashville office, and was assigned by Singer (father of one of Engel's friends) to his first tour -- a U.S. trek with Ike and Tina Turner. It was a difficult tour but "Bobby passed the test," according to a remembrance written by Salot-Engel.
Engel went on to be appointed to partner in the 1980s and was tasked with moving the agency westward. At 30, he had taken a drive out to LA for fun with a buddy and after about two weeks, decided he wanted to permanently relocate.