Who is Shep Gordon anyway?
That’s what I thought when I sat down to watch Mike Myers’s directorial debut on Netflix, ‘The legend of Shep Gordon: Supermensche’.
To many he’s a legend. (Clearly my kind of guy then). Others have never heard of him.
According to the film’s synopsis, ‘Mike Myers (Wayne’s World, Austin Powers) documents the astounding career of Hollywood insider, the loveable Shep Gordon, who fell into music management by chance after moving to LA straight out of college, and befriending Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix. Shep managed rock stars such as Pink Floyd, Luther Vandross, Teddy Pendergrass and Alice Cooper, and later went on to manage chefs such as Emeril Lagasse, ushering in the era of celebrity chefs on television. Stuffed with fantastic archive footage the film traces Shep’s transformation from the 1970’s hedonist to today’s practicing Buddhist yearning for a family of his own’.
I was captivated.
Listening to people from Michael Douglas to Willie Nelson pay tribute to their friend and colleague, it was compelling viewing how this chap Shep made his mark in showbiz – not just through skill and instinct but also by compassion and being a nice guy. Starting from nothing, with a few lucky breaks (meeting Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin by a pool at his first stop in LA), Shep turned opportunity into gold. And he turned clients into beloved friends.
In an industry well-known for its ego and shark infested waters, Shep did business with compassion and heart. If he heard about someone not getting their due, he helped them with no expectation in return. He managed Groucho Marx in the last days of that comedic genius’s life (pro bono) and he even found time to invent the Celebrity Chef (also pro bono).
I like that. Doing business with compassion and heart is what we do at Incognito Artists.
But it was also a cautionary tale. Shep has the midas touch in business but in the story, Midas’s magic touch turns even his family into gold. And through the documentary, although we see that Shep has his beachfront home in Hawaii, household names who adore him on speed dial, and the Dalai Lama as one of his besties, he is still seeking satisfaction in his personal life.
According to Mike Myers, “Shep is one of the most loved, if not the most loved person in show business I’ve ever met.” Which is why Myers made the movie. Yet Shep is yearning for family, someone to leave it all to. Someone to do it all for.
In the reality TV-driven world we live in, where celebrity culture is huge and much aspired to, I think this documentary is a cautionary tale for young people.
I get asked a lot about how to be a multi-platinum-selling recording artist, how to be a singer, how to be successful? When I wrote down my list of goals before I switched careers and embarked on my training, I knew I had to have about 15 reasons why I wanted to be a performer. Fame and fortune were not on that list.
Myers terms fame, ‘the industrial toxic waste of creativity’. Shep has seen it destroy lives and around 10 years into his career told potential clients that if he did his job properly, it would probably kill them.
“I spent my whole life making people famous but there is nothing about fame that I have seen that is healthy.
It’s something that is very hard to survive and has no intrinsic value unto itself”.
We have a wealth of ‘star’ performers at Incognito Artists at the top of their game in the industry, where the balance is heavily on the skilled, creative, extraordinarily-talented side and less on the fame side. Where passion, excellence and artistry is valued just as much as being a household name. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to be acknowledged for ability and quality, and we’re super proud of our tenors and divas who are making it big in film, TV, on stage and recording; we also know they have their feet on the ground and their hearts invested in their work, where the emphasis is on years of hard graft to hone their craft, a desire to make people happy, and a sheer need to do what they do, or die – not a need to be famous.
Interesting food for thought. Good timing to watch this after spending a few days with my family, on half term, in Barcelona, reminding me of what I believe is important in life.
Have a great week!