Michael Marion had humble beginnings in the music world as the vice president of the Beatles Club in the third grade. The current GM at Verizon Arena told Amplify that it “never occurred to [him]” that he would end up working in the concert industry at that age.
“In high school, another student and I organized the annual Christmas dance, though, and while in college I worked at the campus radio station where we played what was then called ‘Progressive Rock,'” he said. “Moving into the concert business was a natural progression based on my organizational and marketing skills.”
Michael began booking concerts during his tenure at Mississippi State University in the late 70s. He booked Billy Joel for his first show in 1976 and was hired on to advise the concert committee at the school after he graduated, going on to book Bruce Springsteen in 1981.
“When I started booking in college, I realized this work wouldn’t be boring and would be something that I enjoy every day,” Michael said. “I like the idea that I can help give people fond memories like the ones I have for the shows I’ve been to.”
Since then, Michael has worked as an agent for what is now Triad Artists in Los Angeles and helped open and run the Tupelo Coliseum in Mississippi (now Bancorp South Arena). One of the highlights of his time at Tupelo was booking the Eagles during their Hell Freezes Over Tour in 1994.
“It was one thing to get The Eagles but to have Irving Azoff, Peter Grosslight and Terry Bassett in Tupelo was a real treat,” he said.
In 1997, Michael was integral in the construction of Verizon Arena (then-called Alltel Arena) and has enjoyed many a show there as GM, including seeing Garth Brooks, The Rolling Stones and The Eagles.
While he’s looking forward to seeing Paul McCartney at Verizon Arena in April, Michael is always on the hunt for more shows to book and works closely with his directors on operations.
“There’s something new everyday and it’s always fun,” he said.
Keep reading to learn more about Michael’s first Paul McCartney concert in 2004 and more of his favorite shows.
Bruce Springsteen at Humphrey Coliseum, 1981
This was my first experience seeing a Springsteen show. Even though I was working, I realized there was something special about this man and his band. I’ve seen him over 25 times since then.
Cream at Madison Square Garden, 2005
I never thought I’d ever see them and I was in NY when they reunited to play three dates at MSG. I was with Randy Brown from the Ft. Wayne building. I still have my poster and the ticket stub on my wall.
Andy Kaufman at Union Ballroom, MSU, 1980
We did a small show with him and took him and Bob Zmuda out for dinner afterwards. He was very nice and got really excited when he discovered that Starkville, MS was only an hour from Tupelo, the birthplace of Elvis. We gave them directions and they were on their way. He was a comic genius.
Paul McCartney at Reunion Arena in Dallas, 2004
A Beatle. Need I say more? I knew every song and he performed them flawlessly. And now he’s coming to our building!
The Ides of March in Columbus, MS, 1970
My first concert at age 14. I remember thinking, “Wouldn’t it be neat to be involved in putting on a concert?” 46 years later, I still feel the same way.