I was Anne Murray’s business manager for almost twenty-five years, and the question I’m most often asked about my career is how that came about. When I tell people the whole story they invariably say it’s very interesting, mostly because it’s the perfect example of the theory of six degrees of separation. So, I’m going to tell it again here.
It was the spring of 1971, Anne was riding high with her monster hit Snowbird, was about to become a huge international star, and had recently moved to Toronto. Her career had been launched a few years earlier when she starred in the Halifax CBC show Singalong Jubilee. One of the musicians on Singalong was a young banjo player from London, Ontario, by the name of George Buckley. George and Anne had remained friends, so it was natural for her to reconnect with him in Toronto, where George was now a stockbroker with Wood Gundy. As a matter of fact, George found Anne an apartment in the same complex where he was living in the Yonge-Davisville area.
George had a good friend, Tony Gray (or, possibly, Grey; I’ve forgotten which), who was a young lawyer with the giant Toronto law firm, McCarthy, McCarthy (now McCarthy Tetrault), and Tony became Anne’s lawyer. Tony realized he could handle Anne’s legal affairs, but knowing she also needed overall business, tax, and financial advice he asked a senior partner at the McCarthy firm, Ron Robertson, to recommend a chartered accountant. Ron called a tax accountant by the name of Don Beach. In 1971, Don and I were partners with Coopers & Lybrand (now PriceWaterhouseCoopers).
Although Don was perfectly qualified to advise Anne, he preferred doing corporate tax work. As I was dealing almost exclusively with individuals, and in a broader capacity than just income tax, Don arranged for me to meet with Anne, Tony and George. We hit it off and I took over Anne’s financial and business affairs.
As I said earlier, six degrees of separation: Anne, George, Tony, Ron, Don, and me.
This would be a good time to clear up some confusion. Many people think Anne Murray was my first high-profile individual client. She certainly was not; she wasn’t even my first entertainment business client. When Anne became a client I was already doing work for opera singers Jon Vickers and Riki Turofsky, and the rock group Crowbar. At that time I also had over fifty NHL players as clients, a number of well-known CEOs, and some popular media personalities.
George Buckley is still with CIBC Wood Gundy and remains a good friend.
Tony Gray moved to Australia not long after we met and became a very successful mining magnate.
I don’t know if Ron Robertson is still alive, but if he is I’m sure he’s long since retired.
Don Beach has been retired from the accounting firm for quite a while, but remains active looking after his investments and doing good works. Don was one of the four most important influences on my career, for which I will be forever grateful; and, I don’t mean just for the introduction to Anne Murray.