When Nederlander Concerts’ Adam Millar graduated from San Diego State University in 1987, his career path was far from solidified. Millar had earned a major in business administration, but he hadn’t determined a field. After college, Millar took a stab at the home mortgage industry.
“I just hated it. It was terrible. I wasn’t good at it,” Millar told Amplify. “I was trying to figure out my life and what turns me on in terms of a career. So I was thinking, I really love sports. I’m interested in business. So how can I align those interests into a career that someone will actually pay me for?”
Millar decided to take graduate courses at California State University, Fullerton when a guest speaker gave him a push in the right direction.
“Mike Kasino was a guy who sold venue sponsorships for the ’84 Olympics in Los Angeles,” Millar said. “He had relationships with Peter Luukko and some other people, so I went to the class and talked to him after.”
As a result, Kasino wrote Millar several letters of recommendation to Los Angeles venues and Millar received an opportunity to intern for SMG’s Joe Furin at the LA Coliseum and Sports Arena.
“Joe called me one day and said ‘I’m starting a group sales department and I need some help,'” Millar explained. “I wasn’t a sales oriented guy. That was really not my goal. But I said ‘If you’re willing to give me a chance, I’ll do whatever it is you ask.'”
Millar added “The Coliseum and Sports Arena were on fire with the Raiders, Clippers, USC, concerts, WWF (now WWE), family shows etc., and it was the ultimate training ground. I was mentored there by some industry greats including Peter Luukko, John Page, Sherry Caldwell, Joe and others. I kept showing up every day, and after about a year they gave me a paycheck – and I never looked back.”
Millar now manages the City National Grove of Anaheim operated by Nederlander Concerts and we caught up with the General Manager to learn about his five favorite shows of all time.
Red Hot Chili Peppers at Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California
Dec. 31, 1999
I was managing the Forum at the time, and the Red Hot Chili Pepper were (and are) big Lakers and Forum fans. With an assist from Jeanie Buss, Brian Murphy brought them to the Forum to kick off the new century. At the time, we were all losing our minds on Y2K wondering what might happen at midnight – turned out no Y2K issues, just an epic Red Hot Chili Peppers show, white tube socks and all.
U2 Elevation Tour at Staples Center in Los Angeles
Nov. 12, 2001
U2 shows are always special, but this one was important for Los Angeles. For many years the LA Fire Department prohibited general admission arena floor shows within the city and this was a huge disadvantage. We booked U2 knowing the tour had a general admission floor, also knowing that we did not have a permit from LA Fire Department. It took months of meetings, and they finally permitted the show just a couple of days before load-in. The show went great, as expected, and general admission arena shows returned to the City of LA which was no small accomplishment.
BB King at City National Grove of Anaheim
Nov. 22, 2002
Nederlander had recently won the contract for the venue, and this was our first show at the City National Grove. Honestly, I don’t remember much about the performance itself as we were working out the venue kinks – what I do remember is what a remarkably kind man BB King was. He wanted to meet all our staff, and invited each of us one by one into the dressing room to thank us for having him – it was just a special night with a really gracious gentleman.
Prince at City National Grove of Anaheim
May 7-8, 2012
Prince. Two nights. Four shows. Nothing I write can properly describe how talented Prince was, or how special these shows were.
There’s this level of talent and it’s the smallest club in the world of crazy ridiculous talent. That’s Prince. I’ve never seen anything like it. Just the most talented guy and such an interesting guy. He was so painfully shy, but so kind. I can’t describe it other than to say that I’ve never seen anybody that talented at that level of a musician and a showman. For 48 hours it was a ton of work, but it was just incredible. How lucky were we to be there and to get to host that guy in this 1,700-seat venue?
Jackson Browne at City National Grove of Anaheim
July 29, 2017
I was about 10 years old when my brother brought home “The Pretender” album by Jackson Browne. I really wasn’t into music at that time, but something changed when I heard that album. Playing it over and over, his music became my soundtrack – and still is. I’ve been to many of his shows over the years as a fan, but never as the venue manager, until this past summer. I’m lucky we have an amazing staff here, so for two hours I was able to completely unplug — to sing along (poorly) and just appreciate Jackson Browne’s catalog on my home stage.