Charles ‘Chip’ Rachlin, Pioneering Agent for Billy Joel and The Beach Boys, Dies at 73
"I will always be grateful for his efforts on my behalf back in the day," writes Billy Joel.
Charles “Chip” Rachlin, the trailblazing agent for Billy Joel and the Beach Boys, died last Wednesday (Jan. 25) following a short illness. He was 73.
A rock pioneer, Rachlin, like so many others of his generation, had a life-changing experience when the Beatles performed on the Ed Sullivan Show back in February 1964. He started a band, the Gremlins. But it was in presenting and showcasing talent that he found his calling.
Born in Summit, New Jersey, Rachlin — a lifelong Yankees fan — learned the ropes as an agent working for Bill Graham at the Fillmore East, and later, as a junior agent with the Millard Agency.
Rachlin and his Fillmore friend Michael Klenfner showed their entrepreneurial chops when, in February 1971, they booked the Beach Boys to headline Carnegie Hall. It was a turning point for everyone involved, as Rachlin soon found himself representing the group, and its lead singer, the late Carl Wilson during his solo career.
Once Graham closed the Filllmore, “Millard went ‘uptown,'” remembers Rachlin in a timeline on the Rachlin Entertainment website.
“We built an All Star Team with Danny Weiner, Tom Ross, Budd Carr and Shelly Schultz,” with a roster that swelled to include Aerosmith, Eric Clapton, America, Seals & Crofts, Loggins & Messina, James Taylor, Fleetwood Mac, Linda Ronstadt, CSN, and Eagles.
By the mid-‘70s, Rachlin was a major figure in ICM’s music department, where he repped the future Rock And Roll Hall of Famers the Beach Boys and a young Billy Joel.
“By the end of my run with ICM we were the top concert department among the major agencies,” he recounts. “It was an amazing eight years and the best training ground in the music business.”
He toured with the Rolling Stones, and rode the “fantastic rocket ship ride” that was the launch of MTV.
As styles and formats changed, Rachlin went out on his own. In the early 1990s, he launched Rachlin Entertainment, an enterprise that would become a “unique talent resource” for elite buyers such as Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas and Cunard Cruise Lines.
Among the success stories for Atlantis Paradise Island are the late David Bowie, Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, and Katy Perry. It was Rachlin who produced the All Star Tribute To Brian Wilson at Radio City Music Hall in March of 2001, headlined by Elton John, Billy Joel, Paul Simon and many more.
Tributes are pouring in for the legendary talent booker. “Thanks to Chip being my agent in the early days,” writes Billy Joel on social media, “the band and I were able to make a living as performing musicians before I became more widely known as a recording artist. I will always be grateful for his efforts on my behalf back in the day.”
Eagles manager Irving Azoff recounts Chip as “not only a pioneer in how the business operates today,” but, for over 40 years, “he remained somebody who I always wanted to hear from.” The veteran music executive adds: “He was an innovator. More importantly, on a one-to-one level, he displayed all the personal qualities that make this business great. He was not just passionate about the music and any artist he worked with but a great person. This one hurts very badly.”
“We’re so saddened to learn of Chip Rachlin’s passing,” reads a post from the Bill Graham Foundation. Chip “went on to produce an amazing array of events. Along the way, he made many friends who now mourn his loss. Our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones.”
Rachlin is survived by his wife Wendy, his sons Josh and Alex, and their extended family.