Giorgio Gomelsky, whose name was intertwined with the career of the Yardbirds and also figured in the early rise to fame of the Rolling Stones, died of cancer Jan. 14, according to various reports. His age was reported to be 82 by Dangerous Minds. Gomelsky was alerted to the Rolling Stones, then an unknown group whose members were sharing a flat, by Eric Clapton. He told author Timothy White, “When I first went there (the Crawdaddy Club), it was like a traditional jazz club that was kinda leaned toward R&B. I said to him, ‘There’s this little band that plays at the Marquee and the Ealing Club called the Rolling Stones. You should get them in.”
Gomelsky did so in February, 1963 and got them an extended gig, but was later bypassed as their manager when the Stones signed a contract with Andrew Loog Oldham. In April, 1963, Gomelsky did arrange a historic meeting when he invited the Beatles to witness a Stones gig. It was the first meeting of the two bands, according to an interview with him on Eurock.
The group that replaced the Stones at the Crawdaddy Club was the Yardbirds and Gomelsky didn’t make the same mistake this time as he did with the Stones. He told NY Press in an interview he knew they were what he was looking for right away. “I heard them as I walked up the stairs and I knew instantly I had found what I was looking for,” he said. He produced the first Rhythm & Blues Festival with the Yardbirds, the Spencer Davis Group and Long John Baldry. His relationship with the Yardbirds lasted until 1966. He also managed Brian Auger and the Trinity (“This Wheel’s On Fire”) and the T-Bones and was instrumental in the formation of Steampacket, an obscure group which featured both Julie Driscoll and Rod Stewart before he hooked up with the Faces.
Gomelsky later moved to France and took on progressive groups, including Magma and Gong. A series of “Rock Generation” albums featuring live shows from his rare tapes appeared on the French BYG label. He later started a record label of his own, Utopia Records, in 1975, which featured Albert King, among others. But he’ll always be known for the Yardbirds, for whom he produced many songs, including “For Your Love,” “I’m a Man,” “I’m Not Talking,” “Mister, You’re a Better Man Than I” and “Heart Full of Soul.” “The Yardbirds were cosmopolitan, they were a big-city band, so the synthesis was different and more complex,” he told NY Press. “Not to be vainglorious, but the reason why we did what we did was that nobody else was.”