Where Russell Gordon is from, he’s considered a unicorn. The Vice President/Assistant General Manager of Los Angeles’ Microsoft Theater garnered that title as one of the few people in the city who actually grew up here. Gordon was raised in the suburbs of Los Angeles and grew up imagining a life in the city’s predominant industry of film and television.
Gordon jumped started his entertainment career at Universal Studios theme park in Southern California in operations.
“My friend offered me a part time job there and I thought it would be a good way to weasel my way down onto the back lot to start working in film and production,” Gordon told Amplify. “But then they asked if I could help them with special events and I really enjoyed that. It touched theme park, it touched back lot, it touched production. It touched all these different areas, so I got really interested in events.”
In addition to being a theme park and studio lot, Universal Studios also housed a 6,000-capacity amphitheater known as the Universal Amphitheatre and later the Gibson Amphitheatre where Gordon worked on events. The amphitheater was torn down in 2013 to make way for the park’s newest attraction, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
“I went down the week before they demolished it,” Gordon said. “Universal was anxious for them to get out so that they could build this attraction. It was a bitter sweet type of thing because I originally started in the theme park. To see that expand and do well was kind of cool, but also having spent a couple years at the amphitheater which gave me my love of music and concerts was sad to see it go away.”
Gordon headed to Universal Music Group in the digital media department in the middle of the recorded music shake up.
“It was a time when the brick and mortar retail was starting to go away, so Tower Records was starting to shut down and Warehouse Music was shutting down.,” Gordon explained. “Digital music was just getting started and I was there the day that Apple became the number one retailer for music and everyone lost their shit.”
As other departments were experiencing layoffs every few months, Gordon’s department of digital was booming and he helped the label reach its first $1 million in revenue with download programs.
“I went to my boss one day and said ‘I helped you guys generate a bunch of money, can I get more money, can I get a promotion?’ I basically got told you should be happy that you have a job in the music business. That was the day that I thought, ‘Fuck this. Maybe working at a record label 9-5 isn’t for me,'” Gordon said.
Luckily for Gordon, AEG was beginning to build their flagship Los Angeles campus, L.A. Live that now includes Staples Center, Microsoft Theater, and the Novo along with other eateries and attractions in Downtown LA.
“Growing up in LA, downtown was scary. I never really came down here,” Gordon said. “Even when Staples Center opened, people would come down, go the Lakers game or the Kings game, and then get out of town.”
Gordon got in on the ground floor, working at the then Nokia Theatre in 2007.
“Being here for almost the last eleven years now, to see all the development happening because of LA Live and to see all of the housing and the people that has blown up because this development has done so much,” Gordon said. “It feels good to be a part of it. It feels like, in a way, that I was part of this revitalization of downtown LA.”
Gordon is taking even more steps to help his home town by joining AEG’s triathlon team that benefits Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. To sponsor Gordon and donate to the hospital, you can go here. In between his training training for the triathlon with his coworkers and other industry executives, Amplify caught up with Gordon to find out about his five favorite shows.
A Grammy Salute to The Beatles at Los Angeles Convention Center
Jan. 27, 2014
I grew up listening to Breakfast With The Beatles on KLOS with my parents, and I remember hearing stories from my dad about seeing them when he was younger. We still talk about how they influenced a generation and impacted the music industry as a whole, and I believe this may have jump-started my passion for music. When the opportunity arose to see this milestone event, I jumped at the chance. This was the first post-Grammys concert where they had a bunch of artists perform various Beatles songs, capping the night with a medley of hits performed by Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. This is the closest I will ever be to seeing The Beatles perform so it was an incredible night!
Justin Timberlake at Hollywood Palladium
Feb. 10, 2013
This was the party to be at after the GRAMMYS in 2013! Apparently, he was focused on acting and other ventures for a few years, so this was sort of a comeback to music for JT. I remember rushing from Downtown to Hollywood after the awards show to get into the venue. It was jam-packed with people anxiously awaiting the first song. Once he took the stage, it was a non-stop dance party, and when Jay-Z joined him on stage for “Suit & Tie” we lost our shit. This was a super fun, exclusive, crazy night that I felt so fortunate to be a part of.
Jay-Z & Kanye West / Watch The Throne at Staples Center in Los Angeles
Dec. 12, 2011
Two of the greatest that ever did it (pre-crazy), on stage together, going back and forth, hit after hit. It was a few hours of insanity, ending the night with that one song played 11-times in a row! Each time they yelled “AGAIN” the audience went even harder! If you know, you know.
Coldplay at Club Nokia in Los Angeles
Feb. 2, 2012
I’ve seen Coldplay numerous times, but to be able to see them in such an intimate setting was beyond memorable. Not only do their songs illicit the gamut of emotions, but the projection mapped imaging, RFID triggered wristbands, and overall spectacle of their show made it one of the most overwhelming musical experiences I’ve ever seen. The fact that this was a benefit show for LA Youth made it even better.
Blink-182 at Coors Amphitheatre in San Diego, California
April 25, 2002
For those who don’t know, I am a fairly big fan of this band and of these 3 guys. I’ve seen nearly every show they’ve played in Southern California and have ventured even farther a few times to catch them. I haven’t just followed them as Blink-182, but all of their projects including Box Car Racer, The Transplants, +44, Angels & Airwaves, and reluctantly this new version of the band with Matt Skiba. I’ve always enjoyed the carefree, fun, and sometimes serious/political nature of their songs and actions. I know, they’re just a crappy punk rock band, but to me they’re a bit more. Many of their songs provided the soundtrack for significant parts of my life. I’ve enjoyed meeting them numerous times, and have built friendships with people because of them. I chose this show to highlight, because they were on point during the Pop Disaster Tour with Green Day and Jimmy Eat World. My friends and I drove down to SD for a fun weekend, sang at the top of our lungs to three great bands, had the time of our lives, and it was a hometown show for Blink! Making it even more memorable was having post-show burritos at Sombrero when Travis walked in, took some pictures, and hung out.