13th September 2005
Nathan Joseph - A Study In Brilliant Management
Brilliance needs management and that management has to be sympathetic if the brilliance is not to be dimmed.
And the talented young free-spirits, emerging from the beatnik cellars of the British folk revival, were blessed by a man who understood that bohemians need not starve for their art.
So in 1961, Nathan "Nat" Joseph, the son of a Birmingham businessman, started Transatlantic Records, one of the UK"s first successful and fully independent labels.
Although never achieving the popularity of the beat and rhythm and blues music, which became the sound-track to the 1960s, folk, often blending contemporary themes with the English and Celtic traditions, was heard in bed-sits and student halls, as well as thousands of clubs.
Joseph"s stable included Ralph McTell, who would later score a huge hit with "The Streets of London"; Bert Jansch and John Renbourn who formed Pentangle; Alexis Korner, a father figure to bands such as the Rolling Stones and the Kinks; and the Humblebums, whose line-up included Billy Connolly and Gerry Rafferty.
The legendary Dubliners and the Ian Campbell Group also recorded on his label, which acted as the UK distributors for controversial American figures such as Lenny Bruce and Malcolm X.
Joseph genuinely admired his musicians and had in effect offered them an outlet, which became immensely successful. This was rare in the recording industry, which often found in the groups an opportunity for profit, which should be milked until it was exhausted.
By comparison, Joseph, who had read English at Cambridge, was always delighted when his artists popped in for a chat about music or comedy.
In 1975, Joseph sold his controlling interest in Transatlantic to Granada so that he could concentrate on the theatre, producing plays in this country and Broadway, including Alex McCowen's "Kipling" in 1984.
He was also the sole representative of the playwright Arnold Wesker, whose "Chips with Everything" (1962) embodied the spirit of the age.
Joseph leaves Sarah, his wife of 40 years, and two sons.
Nathan Joseph, record label founder