The Guardian AUGUST 13, 2016 - by Richard Williams


Manager who guided Robbie Williams's solo career for twenty years

David Enthoven, who has died aged seventy-two, was one of a group of English public schoolboys who fell in love with the pop music industry in the 1960s, and helped reshape it. His early success as the co-manager of King Crimson, Marc Bolan, Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Roxy Music was followed by a descent into an abyss of drug and alcohol addiction. When he emerged from the ruins of his former life, he used his experience to help others rebuild theirs. Among them was Robbie Williams, whose solo career he guided for twenty years.

Williams had arrived at the office of Enthoven and his partner in his second management company, Tim Clark, one day in 1996, a year after leaving Take That. Neither man was impressed by the demo tape they were played, or by the twenty-two-year-old singer's general condition. Nevertheless, they agreed to a second meeting, at Williams's flat in Maida Vale, north London, during which, as a last resort, the singer began reciting his poetry to them. "If you can do that, you can write songs," they told him, and guided him towards a collaboration with the songwriter Guy Chambers. Among the initial results were two songs, Angels and Let Me Entertain You, that would lay the foundation for a career in which Williams would dominate the British charts and sell tens of millions of records around the world.

Enthoven accompanied Williams on his concert tours and helped the singer wean himself off his addictions. After his recovery, Enthoven did much work through Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous to help others.

"Without David, I might have died," Williams once said, and others could have said the same.

Brought up in Houghton Green near Rye, East Sussex, by his mother, Margo, and her husband, Tom, a businessman who had served in Malta during the war, Enthoven did not discover until his late twenties that his biological father had been a member of the Sitwell family.

From 1957 to 1962 he attended Harrow school, where he fell in with the members of the school pop group A Band Of Angels. After leaving Harrow, the band turned professional and made several records, and Enthoven became their roadie, although, as the group's rhythm guitarist, John Gaydon, recalled, Enthoven usually drove to their gigs in his Austin Healey sports car while the musicians were crammed into their Commer van.

In 1966, when their singer, Mike d'Abo, left to replace Paul Jones as the frontman of Manfred Mann, Enthoven and Gaydon, who were sharing a mews house bought by Margo in South Kensington, west London, went to work in Denmark Street, London's Tin Pan Alley, for the Noel Gay artists' agency. The clients included a comedy trio called Giles, Giles and Fripp. One day in 1968, Robert Fripp, the group's guitarist, invited the pair to visit a rehearsal room in Fulham Palace Road, where he unveiled a new band called King Crimson, performing songs from an album they had written and part-recorded, In the Court of the Crimson King.

That day Enthoven and Gaydon became managers in their own right. Enthoven borrowed £4,500, secured against the mews house, to pay the costs of finishing the album, and the duo made a deal to lease the tapes of the album to Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island Records and an old Harrovian of an earlier generation.

Through a series of Sunday afternoon concerts at the Marquee Club in Soho in 1969 and an appearance on the bill of The Rolling Stones' free concert in Hyde Park that summer in front of an audience of more than a quarter of a million, King Crimson became the hottest new band in Britain and the standard-bearers for progressive rock. When Enthoven and Gaydon made a deal for a US release with Ahmet Ertegun of Atlantic Records, who gave them an advance of $100,000 and a remarkable twelve percent royalty rate, King Crimson's global success was assured.

Unlike their Tin Pan Alley predecessors, the partners behind EG Management looked like rock stars and deployed a raffish charm. They wore leather jackets and cowboy boots, rode motorbikes and took drugs (they and Blackwell had celebrated the Island deal, which was settled over a spliff in Windsor Great Park, by going out and buying matching 650cc BSA Thunderbolts). A new generation of artists readily warmed to their approach. EG's select roster soon expanded to include Emerson, Lake and Palmer, formed by Greg Lake, an ex-member of King Crimson, and Bolan, whom they encouraged to add a bass guitarist and drummer to his formerly acoustic lineup, thus transforming the cult duo known as Tyrannosaurus Rex into the chart-topping T.Rex.

Next to arrive were Roxy Music, whose leader and singer, Bryan Ferry, had failed an audition with King Crimson but had been impressed by EG's sense of style, not least the location of their first-floor office on King's Road, Chelsea, overlooking the Markham Arms. When Roxy performed their own audition for EG in an old cinema in Wandsworth, south-west London, one afternoon in February 1972, Enthoven arrived in his Aston Martin and left impressed enough to offer them a deal. Once again the debut album - with its startlingly glamorous pin-up cover - was offered to Island, where Clark, then the marketing director, was particularly enthusiastic about their prospects, helping to override Blackwell's reservations about the group's brand of retro-futurism.

Disagreements led to Gaydon's departure soon after Roxy's arrival. He was replaced by Mark Fenwick, a department store heir, who took on the role of managing Ferry and Roxy day to day. Enthoven, too, left in the mid-'70s, when his habits began to get the better of him. In his absence the company gradually declined, its fall hastened by losses at Lloyd's of London, until the catalogue was sold to Virgin in 1992.

Enthoven's own decline, however, went further and faster. By the time he committed himself to rehab in 1985 he had lost his marriage, his houses in London and the Chilterns, and his collection of vintage motorbikes, although not the affection of many who had known him in the good times, remembering his warmth, kindness and droll humour. They were cheered by his resurrection as Clark's partner in a new company, eventually known as the ie:music group, which started quietly in 1991 but achieved great success with a roster including Massive Attack, Archive, Sia and, for a while, Ferry, as well as Williams.

He and Clark were active in the founding of the Featured Artists Coalition, which campaigns for musicians' rights and is supported by Annie Lennox, Ed O'Brien of Radiohead, Billy Bragg, Nick Mason of Pink Floyd and Sandie Shaw, among others. Enthoven also supported the Hepatitis C Trust and Steps2Recovery.

His first marriage, to Penelope Wills, ended in divorce. His second was to the model Maren Greve, who survives him, as do the children of his first marriage, Belinda and James, his step-daughter, Tania, three grandchildren and three step-grandchildren.

David Enthoven, pop music manager, born July 5, 1944; died August 11, 2016