The Managers That Built Prog: Dave Margereson, the man behind Supertramp
Dave Margereson was partially responsible for Chris de Burgh’s Lady In Red, but we can forgive him for that as A&M’s managerial mastermind also helped turn pop-proggers Supertramp into the big
The all-conquering period in Supertramp’s history between 1974 and 1983 is one of the most fondly regarded in all of prog.
It wasn’t long before he would join Green in the burgeoning pop business. “Derek was now in the copyright department at Carlin Music and told me of a similar position at KPM music publishing in London’s Denmark Street,” Margereson says. “Fully expecting to later return to acting, I started in 1964 and learned how publishing works. I later moved into the mood music department and learned about composers and recording TV themes and jingles.”
It was a fast-moving time. In 1967 Margereson joined Screen Gems Music doing song placement and radio promotion. It was only to last six months before his persistent lateness got him the sack. However, he had started to make a name for himself. On the day he was fired, he was headhunted by CBS Records in London, joining their promotion department.
It was a successful period for Margereson. After his time in promotion, he moved into A&R, initially assessing which US acts’ product could gain a UK release, before looking at domestic signings. He signed Johnny Nash with his I Can See Clearly Now LP, plus Bob Marley and Gary Moore, among others. It wouldn’t be long before Green and Margereson’s paths would cross again. “In 1973, I was asked by Derek, now MD at A&M in London, to start their A&R department. At that time at CBS, I was negotiating with Andy Fairweather Low and Queen. I took both tapes with me to A&M. Derek had also been talking with Andy, who he signed. Queen was rejected by A&M’s A&R department in Los Angeles.”
Within a matter of years, Queen would be, well, Queen. “They listened to me after that,” Margereson chortles.
Derek Green asked Margereson to review A&M’s roster, especially the artists whose contracts were up for renewal. “Supertramp was a completed lease-tape deal for two LPs, neither of which had accomplished much. I went to see the band live several times and liked them, especially the new songs Dreamer and Bloody Well Right. I then witnessed their break-up.”
Margereson thought the band were worth fighting for. “I’d made a bit of a bond with Roger [Hodgson], Dougie [Thomson], and [sound man] Russel [Pope] and I had a huge respect for Rick [Davies], although he was, and still is, hard to read.”