We had the good fortune of connecting with Bobby Leigh and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Bobby, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
The most important factor behind my success, was to never give up. I believed at a young age that anything is possible if you just believed and never looked back. Failure is not an Option.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My father was an academic genius, a nuclear physicist, a childhood prodigy, my mother was a suppressed artist restricted from her craft by her overbearing husband. Because my father and mother both worked and was unable to deal with the children after school, my parents gave us the only two options available for after school activities. Either attend study hall and do the days homework or take a drama class, predominantly attended by girls. I choose drama. I acted out my favorite movies at the time. It was fun, I got to dress up as a gangster, an Indian chief or a doctor all in the same day. My mother gifted me with a guitar when I was 10 years old and I found another way to release my creative juices. My family being British, my father sort of fancied himself as a musician, he played the Bag Pipes (badly) thought that the guitar was the devils instrument. He did not support my new found passion. At 16 he sat my brother John and I down and asked us what we intended to do with our lives. Brother John quickly replied that he wanted to go into medicine and become a doctor. I said that I wanted to be a rock ‘n’ roller and travel the world. My father quickly replied “Not in my house, under my roof” he said. So I quickly packed everything I could fit into a backpack and my guitar and I hitch-hiked to the nearest town. I spent the next few weeks busking at storefronts, playing guitar for dimes and nickels with my open guitar case, until one day outside of a music store a young man asked the store worker if he knew any sound guys. The store guy told him to ask me and he did. I said Yes I can do that. I was hired immediately and left that night with that top 40 band to go on the road. I had no idea what I was doing. I quickly figured out that I was horrible at my new job, but the option of going back home, as a failure was not an option. I, like a sponge soaked up everything from everyone. I knew I could not be good, I had to be great. I knew that if I wanted to break, I needed to be in California. Some of my friends had a connection in Los Angeles and we fled there in the middle of the night where we started again. Within weeks we had a new band together and a show in Las Vegas booked. Starting new in a big city was difficult. I had to get an actual job without any real experience. I found a job as a telephone caller. We would call people and pitch them with a prepared script on buying our one-year supply of vitamins. We then would hand the phone over to a closer who would seal the deal. I quickly moved into that position and really was able to put my acting skills to work. I transformed myself from the young 25 year old Bobby Leigh into the 68 year old Robert Leigh, a former physician that had all the answers in solving their health issues. I believed in what I was selling. I believed that my buyers were really getting one of the five fantastic gifts. I made great money until one day I was asked to help in the customer service department and discovered that everyone receiver the cheap fake diamond ring. My sales plummeted and I was quickly removed.
I was also moving up the ranks in the Hollywood local music scene working for some of Hollywood’s newest up and coming artists like Motley Crue, Quiet Riot and Hurricane.
I worked my up, did a bunch of shitty tours did a bunch of great tours. Performed with Skid Row at the first ever Moscow Peace Music Festival. The very first rock concert in the Soviet Union 1989. Later, a manager asked me if I wanted to become the tour manager as well, it meant double the salary. I was in. I had been in real life music school now for years and had soaked up enough knowledge that I did a good job.
In the early 1990’s while getting a coffee on the Height in San Francisco, I came across a young woman busking outside a bar with an incredible voice. Reminiscing on that same 16 year old boy that got that break. Within two months this girl had a band and within six months a record deal and we had sold 11 million records within nine short months. Management was now in my blood.
I managed artists for several years before leaving the touring side and concentrating my efforts on helping artists get record deals and then passing them on to other managers. I also set up tours for managers, record companies for artists without experienced tour managers. One of the Great managers that I worked for and who taught me everything about artist management was Jim Guerinot from A&M records. Jim managed Social Distortion who I had worked with since 1989. Jim had a new punk rock band The Offspring who was on an independent record label and was about to break. The tour was a huge success, sold out every show. I never left my home. On their 2nd tour it was apparent that they needed someone on the management team, more permanent so I went back on the road to represent the management companies interests and assure that the tour was smooth flowing, as this was the bands first arena tour.
In 2001 I produced my 3rd MTV’s, Video Music Award Show and after nearly escaping (by one day) 9/11. I left NYC on September 10, the day before. I needed to reevaluate my life. I decided to revisit my first passion. Acting. I enrolled in an extensive acting academy. And was casted in my first guest star roll on a television show.
As an actor, I landed several roles for television; in The WB sitcom “The Mayor”. Also appearing on Touchstone Television “That Was Then.” As well I was cast in a guest staring and recurring role on the ABC Television family Pilot “East of Normal, West of Weird.”
Other notable acting roles; I was in “London Fields,” “Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” “Creatures Of White Chapel,” “British Style,” “Cruel,” “Dracula Untold,” “Golgotha,” “Sherlock Holmes,” “Childlike Violence,” and tons of other independent films.
As an actor or as a manager I have always strived to find a way to give back to anyone the guy that gave that young 16-year-old kid a break. That is the best and most satisfying feeling one could ever have.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
On day 1 I would take my friend out for breakfast to Mel’s Diner on Sunset Blvd, down Melrose for some shopping then to Robertson for some more shopping, stop for lunch at the Ivy on Robertson, drinks at the Beverly Hills Hotel (which my friend wanted to see), followed by dinner at the legendary Rainbow Bar and Grill on the Sunset Strip and then off to see the night life on the Strip. The following day I would make breakfast at home and we would eat in our beautiful apartment courtyard and then we would go to Hollywood and Highland to the Walk of Fame to see the stars, browse around Hollywood, find the Oscar museum and perhaps hit up some of the Hollywood Museums, find a local spot for lunch and in the evening I would take my friend to Musso & Franks’s for dinner followed a concert in a venue or club by a local back such as Livingmore.
On day 3 we would start the day @ Rose’s for breakfast in Venice Beach followed by a stroll up and down the Venice Boardwalk, perhaps rent some bikes and bike in Venice as well. After working up an appetite we would lunch at Cabana, a Mexican restaurant in Venice. Then depending upon our mood we would stop to see a film at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica followed by drinks at the Huntley for a sunset view and after a long day we would stop at the Formosa Cafe for dinner with friends and a Humphrey Bogart signature martini.
On day 4 we would breakfast at the Dialog Cafe in West Hollywood in our neighborhood followed by a stop to the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures where we would break for lunch as well at their restaurant Fanny’s.
Then after all that running around we would go to the WI Spa for some pampering and massages and a relaxing day at the spa. After the spa we work up an appetite so off we go to the Korean BBQ restaurant located on south west corner of Vermont and James M Wood.
On day 5 breakfast at home. The it’s off to Malibu for a day at the beach to Westward Beach, the southern half of Zuma Beach. We bring bread to the beach for the seagulls and a boxed lunch from Whole Foods for us.
After a day of swimming and lounging around on the beach and feeding the seagulls and taking photos of the fiesty seagulls who try try to steal our lunch, we change and head over to the Sunset Restaurant down the road on the beach for a beautiful sunset dinner. Afterwards we drop by to Carla’s and Leigh’s (fomer actor) house in Malibu to check out his magnificent stunning art room and for a lecture from an interesting visitor and a concert by a pianist.
On day 6 we explore downtown LA, Santee Alley (the secret place where all of Hollywood’s movie stylists shop), the flower market, and whatever else my guest would like to see, drop by little Tokyo for lunch for sushi. We also explore the area by Walt Disney Concert Hall and check out the Grammy Museum as well. After all that walking our feet feel like they are ready to fall off so we drop by a foot massage place on Western on our way home.
At home we refresh and go out for our last hurrah in Los Angeles starting with aperitifs at Mama Shelter, dinner at Delilah and a nightcap at La Boheme.
Day 7 – I make breakfast for my friend, pack them a snack pack for the airplane and see them off to the airport. Ciao for now. I come home and chill in front of the TV and watch Netflix
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
MASON TREAT. When I was 16 years old, playing guitar, busking for dimes outside of a music store, Mason Treat came in and asked the shopkeeper if they knew anyone who was a sound-man. I had no idea what that was but I saw an opportunity to leave the street life, sleeping in a park to actually going on the road that night.
Mason has since passed but despite my success as an actor, my heart always leads me back to helping the underdog. I am still that 16 year old kid striving to give back to the 16 year old kid that needs a break.
Other: IMDb: Internet Movie Data Base: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm2437064/
Marta Tomkiw, Gary Sklar, Christopher Scott Knell,