Sam McKeith is the man who gave us Bruce Springsteen. He was the main agent at the William Morris Agency who promoted him. He signed him. Signed him because he reminded him of Van Morrison, Bob Dylan and the Byrds. All deals that Springsteen was offered came through McKeith’s office (except his album deal with Columbia, which brought forth Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ, his first album). Along with Springsteen’s first manager, Mike Appel, McKeith is one of the most important behind the scene figures responsible for Springsteen’s amazing career.
That silhouette in the picture above next to Springsteen represents McKeith. I chose it because it is black, like McKeith. Sam McKeith is a black man. An African-American, if you will, born in Macon, Georgia (home town of Little Richard, Otis Redding and the Allman Brothers Band). He was the only black agent at the William Morris Agency at the time. (Wally Amos, entrepreneur and founder of Famous Amos cookies, was the one before him. Amos signed Simon and Garfunkel as well as many important Motown acts to the agency.) One of McKeith’s methods in building an audience for Springsteen consisted of him working as many college and universities throughout the northeast in the mid 1970s. This culminated with McKeith’s legendary five day, ten day show booking of Springsteen at New York City’s Bottom Line club in August 1975 that coincided with the release of Springsteen’s classic Born to Run album.
McKeith, who today is in the entertainment consultancy business, will soon be revealing himself to the world, image and all, to discuss his career rise, and fall, and rise again. Visit his website, www.therenaissancemusicreview.com, to find out what he’s been doing since his times with Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Teddy Pendergrass and others.