That's all right, MAMA

Avram was not finished with the music business, however. Far from it. The whole experience may have left a somewhat sour taste in his mouth, but it nevertheless whetted his appetite and inspired him to rise to the challenge. As a result, in 1970 MAMA Concerts was founded in conjunction with junior partner Marek Lieberberg, who had been the press officer for the Hauke-Avram company. The first two letters of the names Marcel and Marek were combined to form the word MAMA.

Determined to learn from the mistakes of the past, the two men set about running the new business with total commitment. "We learned every day, with each concert, each tour, each group," recalls Avram. "The first show we promoted was by the Who, the second by Pink Floyd, the third by Deep Purple, and I can still remember every detail of those concerts."

The fledgling company was presented with an ideal niche in the fast-developing German rock and entertainment market, and it moved in swiftly to occupy it. In due course, the business expanded rapidly, as the inspired approach of delivering the right bands at the right time set new standards nationally. Indeed, it was in large part thanks to MAMA that the German concert scene began to realize its true potential. Among the acts to profit from this development were Rod Stewart, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Yes, Uriah Heep and Neil Diamond.

Chris de Burgh, on the other hand, was playing to virtually empty houses on his first-ever headline tour of Germany, yet Avram never lost faith in his ability and his star potential. Today, still promoted by Avram, the Irishman fills arenas and tops festival bills. It is, therefore, hardly surprising that manager Kenny Thomson, associate Dave Margerison and Avram are the very best of friends.

In the early '70s, the potent fusion of musical talent with a highly professional style of presentation meant that the stature of artists and promoter both grew as the audiences increased in numbers. Pink Floyd, for instance, kicked off 1971 by playing some of the larger clubs in Germany, and by the end of that year the band had graduated to the first open-air festivals there. The group moved up to large concert halls and, ultimately, sports stadiums. "Floyd is now a worldwide institution," comments Avram, "and one of the five biggest bands on earth."

MAMA Concerts, meanwhile, was priming itself to take a page out of Woodstock's book. "I followed the [1969] Woodstock event very closely," explains Avram, "and I determined to stage similar events in Germany featuring really big names. The first festival I created was in Speyer in 1971. The second, in 1972, was on a piece of land in the middle of the Rhine near Germersheim, and it was the biggest festival ever seen in Germany up until that time. It featured 30 acts appearing over the course of three days, including Floyd, the Doors, and the Faces with Rod Stewart."

At that time, MAMA Concerts was the only company presenting outdoor shows in Germany, and the stylish way in which it did so dramatically altered the landscape of the live entertainment business there. Avram and Lieberberg were determined to build on this solid and fast-growing reputation, and more major events soon followed.

There were, for example, the first concert tours of Germany to be undertaken by both Diana Ross and the Jackson Five; and Leonard Cohen's visit in 1972 was the first pan-European undertaking by MAMA Concerts. With the business expanding so rapidly, there was an urgent need to find larger premises, and Avram duly rented new office space on Munich's Sendlingerstrasse as an adjunct to the Frankfurt office.

Then, in the late '70s, Marcel Avram took the logical and inevitable step of visiting one of the countries whose music provided the lifeblood for the MAMA Concerts agency. He went to the United States with the specific intention of making vital contacts there and digesting all of the information he could about the U.S. scene. The visit was instrumental in generating new ideas for the company and widening the scope of activity while providing a clear focus of direction. Above all, however, it reinforced Avram's commitment to careful planning and to always acting in the best interests of the artists and their music. The results were soon plain to see.

In May of 1980, MAMA promoted the first edition of what has now become an annual event—the Munich Reitstadion open-air festival. The inaugural concert was headed by Fleetwood Mac and Bob Marley.

In the early '70s, MAMA Concerts was the only company presenting outdoor shows in Germany, and the stylish way in which it did so dramatically altered the landscape of the live entertainment business there.

home biography story gallery concerts friends

Copyright © Marcel Avram • All rights reserved