When Venue Coalition and Apregan Entertainment’s Jeff Apregan got his first big break in touring he faced a sink or swim scenario by hopping on a bus with one of the biggest names in music. Concerts West threw Apregan onto Bob Dylan’s 1979-1980 Gospel tour which was associated with Dylan’s first two Christian albums Slow Train Coming and Saved.
“I was able to go out as a promoter rep on a Bob Dylan tour in 1980. It was my first tour. They must have thought I had some accounting experience because it was my job to total a show, but I had never settled shows before,” Apregan told Amplify.
Apregan added: “At that time, Dylan was a born again Christian. There was a new album that was out that was around his religion. He was playing theaters. He was typically doing multiple nights in theaters on that specific tour. It was a great way to cut your teeth.”
After aiming for a position in William Morris’s mailroom, Apregan ended up landing a job as an accountant for Concerts West instead. Armed with a business degree and a handful of accounting classes, Apregan jumped at the job even though it was completely different from the agent job he had been seeking.
“It was exciting and terrifying at the same time. It was exciting because touring was exactly what I wanted to do. It was terrifying because I didn’t know what I was doing. I had never settled a show in my life. It was a crash course.”
The crash course at Concerts West was a blessing for Apregan who spent his years there looking at show files from some of the biggest tours of the 70s and 80s. He learned about show settlements, how shows made money, what the expenses were like, ticket scaling, and more from massive tours for the Eagles, Bad Company, John Denver, and eventually Neil Diamond.
“There were a lot of amazing experiences that would not have happened for me had I not been working with Neil,” Apregan said. “It opened up tons of doors. Throughout my career, that was the thread that has been a huge part. In those days we were breaking records. It was an exciting time.”
Apregan began working on tours for Neil Diamond in 1982 and has spent the past 28 years as a tour promoter and then tour director for the “Sweet Caroline” singer.
“With Neil, I was the one routing the tours and usually the guy who was cutting all the venue deals,” Apregan said. “Going back 30 some years, I was developing relationships with venues and building managers. Working closely with Sal Bonafede, who had consulting deals with buildings, really got me thinking about the consulting side of the business.”
Apregan now serves as President of both consulting firms Venue Coalition and Apregan Entertainment. Through Apregan Entertainment, he works with 15 National Football League teams to bring entertainment content to stadiums across the nation.
“There has been more concert content for stadiums than there has been for a long time,” Apregan explains. “The teams want to get utilization out of their stadiums. You do a handful of NFL games and then you have a while lot of empty days in your venues. They have wanted to be more active in the concert business and they certainly have been. I am sharing information with them about tours, deals, event operations for concerts.”
Amplify caught up with Apregan to learn about five shows that helped shaped his career and love of live music.
Santana at Selland Arena in Fresno, California
Feb. 26, 1970
I remember this show because it was only about 13 years-old at the time. It was my very first concert and the only reason my parents allowed me to go, was because Santana had sold out the evening show, and added a matinee in the afternoon. My mom drove me and my buddies to the show. I was hooked from that point on.
Blues Brothers at Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles
Aug. 1, 1980
It was early in my career and I was a promoter rep on the Blues Brothers tour. I was in awe of the musicians in this band. Absolute all-star band – Paul Shaffer, Steve Cropper, Duck Dunn and on and on. It was a really fun show that I would try to watch as much as possible every night. I believe we did six shows in a week and they recorded a live album from those shows.
Neil Diamond at the Forum in Los Angeles
June 28, 1989
I did my first tour with Neil Diamond in 1982 and was fortunate enough to work with him off and on over a period of 28 years. What made the Forum shows special in 1989 was that he did 10 shows. A record at the time. The shows were amazing and sold out every night.
Neil Diamond at Glastonbury in Somerset, England
June 27, 2008
Even after working on literally hundreds of shows with Neil, it was amazing to see him perform to such an enormous audience. Part of the way through the set, the power went out for about four minutes. It felt like an eternity, but he stayed on stage and kept the audience going until the PA kicked back in. It was just an amazing experience and a great way to end a very successful tour.
Tom Petty at Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles
Sept. 21, 2017
I’ve always like Tom Petty, but in the past three or four years, I really became a fan. This was the first show I can remember in a very long time that I was really looking forward to sitting down and seeing the whole show. It was the first of the three nights he was playing at the Hollywood Bowl at the end of the Heartbreakers’ 40th Anniversary tour. It was just a great evening and a stellar show. I have so much respect for his body of work and the talent of every member of that band. I am so grateful to have been able to see one of his very last shows.