herb cohen

December 30, 1932  -  March 16, 2010 


Herb Cohen was the manager of Frank Zappa and the Mothers Of Invention. He co-owned the DiscReet record label with Zappa.

Herb Cohen contributed cash register noises to the second Mothers Of Invention album.

He passed away at the age of 77, March 16, 2010.




2 the mothers of invention: absolutely free
    (1967, lp,usa, verve)



random notes

Herb Cohen worked With: Screamin' Jay Hawkins,  George Duke,  Alice Cooper,  Tim Buckley,  Lenny Bruce, Theodore Bikel.

     From: Patrick Neve (splat@darkwing.uoregon.edu)
OK, so Herb's early involvement with the Mothers is pretty well documented in the various books about Frank.  But what seems to be missing, or maybe I just missed it, is exactly what were the particulars of the lawsuit between Frank and Herb?  It was around '75, was it not?  I thought it involved ownership of masters?  Which album?  Bat Chain Puller? Who sued who?  Who won?  I've heard it described as "ugly", but beyond that I know nothing.
More importantly, what's Herb been up to since then?  I've got a Lowell George & The Factory CD produced by him in 1993, for Bizarre/ Straight records, no less, so he seems to be musically active to some degree. The 1989 CD of Capt. Beefhearts (magnum opus) Lick My Decals Off, Baby was also a Bizarre/ Straight production, distributed by Rhino.  So what's the deal with Herb, those of you in the know?

RE: why the breakup?

     From: Andy Hollinden (ahollind@iupui.edu)
        As I understand it, it all came down to money and how it was used. Howard Kaylan told me (I got to spend an afternoon with him last fall) that what started it all was that Frank found out that Herbie was "double dipping." It seems that his contract with Frank stated  that he got a percentage of Frank's earnings, which is perfectly normal. Now, in addition to being Frank's manager, Herbie was also his partner in DiscReet Records. Frank was pissed when he found that Herb was taking the same percentage of his earnings that came into DiscReet, not just the live performance earnings. So, in essence, Herb was skimming the top off of Frank's earnings in the business where they were co-owners. Technically, I gather that Herb was not doing anything illegal here; his contract did say he was entitled to a percentage of Frank's earnings. It just should have been rewritten when they became partners in the label.
        Frank eventually charged that Herb and his lawyer brother, Mutt Cohen, were delinquent in paying to him his DiscReet earnings and using the money to pay for the production of Captain Beefheart's Bat Chain Puller album. That album in its original version has never seen the light of day. Frank also claimed that Cohen was using DiscReet money to take vacations, hence "Mo 'n Herb's Vacation." Herb claimed that DiscReet had paid Zappa all the money due to him. Herb was pissed when Zappa took the Zoot Allures album directly to Warner Bros, bypassing DiscReet entirely (that album came out ont he Warner Bros. label). Herb, I believe, sued Zappa and Warner Bros. for this.
        I don't know the details of their lawsuit; whether or not it went to court or was settled in whatever manner. Like I said, when I called him, he just shut me down saying, "Why bother? It's a waste of my time" and shit like that. Totally unwilling to tell his side.
       Herb Cohen is still managing George Duke.

     From: Patrick Neve (splat@darkwing.uoregon.edu)
There is another Herb Cohen, who is one of the worlds' leading negotiators.  He's talked terrorists out of their hostages, and has since taken up the safer profession of writing books and doing seminars. Here is whom I believe to be the "other" Herb Cohen:
As closely linked to terrorist negotiations as artist management is, it would appear to be an unrelated practicioner.  Though with a book title like "You Can Negotiate Anything", it could certainly follow that it was the autobiography of a rock & roll manager.

     From: TFaulconer (tfaulconer@aol.com)
The Cohens are now involved with a new label - Manifesto Records.  As a matter of fact, if you check out their web site: http://www.manifesto.com/ you'll find their catalog and a short history of the label that begins:
"Our label began as Bizarre Records (and its companion label, Straight Records) in 1968, as a partnership between rock manager Herb Cohen and Frank Zappa. Over the next several years, Bizarre signed artists such as Alice Cooper, Tim Buckley, Captain Beefheart, Ted Nugent, Wild Man Fischer, The GTOs, Ruben & The Jets, and others. Later, a third label, Discreet, was added, and the labels released albums until 1975, mainly through Warner Bros. Records distribution."
Also, if you check out their catalog, you'll find that several releases originally released on Bizarre/Straight/DiscReet back in the 70's and recently in the early '90's are now available on their Manifesto label (Tim Buckley and Tom Waits, for example...)

     From: Zootorific (zootorific@aol.com)
Evan is Herb's nephew.

     From: "A.Adriaanse" (antal@cidanka.nl)
Oh, and Herb Cohen is still managing George Duke (at least, July 10 1999 he still was.) Co de Kloet talked to him at North Sea Jazz. And to George.




1971 Frank Zappa's 200 Motels (producer)



2010 03 19

Herb Cohen, the tough, litigious manager and label operator who introduced such notables as the Mothers of Invention and Tom Waits during the '60s and '70s, died Tuesday of unknown causes in Napa, Calif. He was 77.

After beginning his professional career as an L.A. club booker and operator, Cohen branched into management in the mid-'60s. His biggest clients were Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention, the outre band that became a top attraction in venues on the Sunset Strip.

After the Mothers released their initial albums on Verve, Cohen and Zappa established their own imprints, Straight, Bizarre and Discreet. The labels issued material by the Mothers and such off-the-wall, Zappa-produced L.A. acts as Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band, groupie unit the G.T.O.'s and itinerant songsmith Wild Man Fischer, as well as singer-songwriter Tim Buckley, hard rock unit Alice Cooper and comic Lenny Bruce. The partners' association collapsed amid an exchange of lawsuits in 1976.

Cohen also handled beat-styled singer-songwriter Waits, who secured a contract with David Geffen's Asylum Records in 1972

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