2004 was an Olympic year, one that delivered an all-time haul of gold medals for Australia and thrills at every turn.
It was the year of Thorpedo, nu-metal was done, EDM was on the rise. OutKast had everybody shaking like a Polaroid picture, The Killers were making a hot fuss.
And for kids who loved the indie-end of the music spectrum, DIG!.
Ondi Timoner’s documentary was a compelling account of two American bands, one seemingly on the way up (The Dandy Warhols), the other, Anton Newcombe’s Brian Jonestown Massacre, going sideways. Perhaps sliding away.
Dandies frontman Courtney Taylor-Taylor and Newcombe went on to criticise the film for its portrayal of the BJM frontman and his impossible rockstar antics.
Never let the truth get in the way of a good yarn.
One person who loved a good yarn and wasn’t scared-off by the film was Ted Gardner, who would go on to work with Newcombe.
The Australian artist manager had guided the careers of Jane’s Addiction, Tool, The Verve and others, and with Jane’s frontman Perry Farrell, co-founded Lollapalooza festival.
None of those were easy tasks, all were success stories.
Gardner, who passed away Dec. 28, 2021 at the age 74, recounted the story to this journalist of his initial meeting with Newcombe, by way of an introduction through a mutual friend.
“I went and met Anton at Silver Lake in a little café. And this old ‘69 Mercedes sedan comes screaming down the road,” Gardner said during the 2011 interview.
“You could see he put the brakes on, and nothing happens. So he runs it into the curb to stop the vehicle. And this tall thin smooth looking guy gets out and sits down with me and says, ‘You’ve got to be Ted?’”
Indeed it was, and the pair chatted over coffee. Then, Newcombe announced: “You’re my manager. Everyone says you’re awesome!”
Gardner pressed pause. “But you haven’t spoken to anybody?”
“I know everybody,” Newcombe enthused. “You’re Ted fucking Gardner.”
Gardner became involved just as DIG! went to Sundance Film Festival. It went on to win the Documentary Grand Jury Prize. “My friends own the Troubadour in West Hollywood,” he explained, “and I was talking to them about putting the band on there and they were going, ‘You’ve got to be joking. He will never come into this venue again. I don’t care you if manage him.’”
Gardner didn’t care either, and a long-standing relationship was struck.
Fast forward to Dec. 29, 2021 and Newcombe used the platform of social media to share the sad news of Gardner’s passing. “I’m sad to report Ted Gardner, our manager, passed away today surrounded by his loving family. we will miss a great manager, mentor & friend. Our condolences to all his family & friends,” he wrote.
I’m sad to report Ted Gardner, Our manager— anton newcombe (@antonnewcombe) December 28, 2021
passed away today surrounded by his loving family. we will miss a great manager, mentor & friend
Our condolences to all his family & friends. pic.twitter.com/T9XzL4yyVa
Newcombe had his own recollection of that first face-to-face with Gardner. “I remember calling Nadine who worked for TVT Records, and asking her if she knew of a brutal type manager, but someone she respected. Nadine knew a lot of people in the biz and she said that there was only one person she really respected and that was Ted,” he explained.
Gardner was immediately called on for help on the DIG! project, which Newcombe says had failed to get his clearance or negotiated licenses on “70 or 80” of his songs.
“I needed the right person, Ted was that person. He will be missed.”