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Fred Jones: Memphis’ ultimate promoter

All conversations about promoters in Memphis are incomplete without including the consummate concert and event promoter, Fred Jones.
 Carlee McCullough

All conversations about promoters in Memphis are incomplete without including the consummate concert and event promoter, Fred Jones, who we feature in this week’s installment of “The Art of being a Promoter.”

With a background in banking, Jones put his abilities to account for funds to work as a tour manager for the legendary Stax Records artist and songwriter Isaac Hayes. Fitted with that experience and exposure in the entertainment industry, he moved on to independent promotions and producing events.

After creating Summit Management Corporation, Jones started the Southern Heritage Classic, which is one of the largest events held annually in the Mid-South. Promoting events, concerts and plays, Jones has done more and seen more than most promoters will ever experience

Carlee McCullough, Esq.: How did you become interested in the promoter arena?

 Fred Jones

Fred Jones: While working at Union Planters Bank on Bellevue, I met some of the staff members at Stax Records. I started with the Soul Children, David Porter and Isaac Hayes. From there my entertainment career began.

CM: Who were your biggest inspirations?

FJ:  Sunbeam Mitchell with Club Paradise in Memphis and Henry Wynn with Supersonic Attractions in Atlanta.

CM: Can you give me the highlight of your career as a promoter?

FJ:  Starting the Southern Heritage Classic in 1990.

CM: Over the course of your career, can you tell us about some of your favorite shows you have promoted?

FJ:  Lou Rawls and Nancy Wilson at the Hilton Hotel on Democrat, the National Tours with The Isley Brothers and the Tyler Perry plays.

CM: What were the most valuable lessons you learned through experience?

FJ:  Paying attention to details. The devil is in the details.

CM: What skills and attributes are necessary to be a successful promoter?

FJ: Treating every show as a business.

CM: What has been your least favorite experience in promoting a show?

FJ:  Dealing with all of the individual egos.

CM: Has the industry changed over the years? If so how?

FJ: Yes. The cost of producing shows has skyrocketed.

CM: What are the positives and negatives of being a promoter?

FJ:  Positive – Meeting a lot of very talented people. Negative – You can lose a lot of money in a short period of time.

CM: What advice would you offer to individuals interested in the business of promoting?

FJ: Don’t do it!!

CM: What is the key to your success?

FJ:  Being able to manage my losses.

CM: How do you overcome losses?

FJ: Have enough money on the front end to cover a loss.

CM: What are successful entrepreneurs doing differently?

FJ: Staying focused and making sure the main thing is the main thing.

CM: What is the biggest hurdle in landing new business?

FJ: You are now competing with the biggest promoters in the business: Live Nation and AEG Live.

CM: What is the key to getting over lost business?

FJ: Always continue to pursue new business to offset the losses that you will have.

CM: What has been the best advice you received along the way in growing your business?

FJ: Take every show and event seriously.

CM: In addition to shows, you promote the long running Southern Heritage Classic. How did this event come about?

FJ: It was two fold: (1) I wanted to prove that I could create an entertainment and sports event that could be successful in Memphis over the long term. (2) Tennessee State and Jackson State have always wanted to play here. They just needed someone to promote it so that they could earn money.

CM: You have been quoted as saying that the Classic has an economic impact of approximately $16 million locally. What businesses are favorably impacted by the presence of the Classic?

FJ: Hotels, restaurants, caterers, retail stores, tailors, car washers to name a few.

CM: What’s next on the horizon SMC Entertainment?

FJ: Create one more mega event in Memphis.

CM: How does your business give back to the community?

FJ: We support education through mentoring.

(For more information on the Southern Heritage Classic, visit online at www.southernheritage ­classic.com.)

(Please send your questions to Carlee McCullough, Esq., Contract Compliance Officer, City of Memphis-Office of Contract Compliance, 125 N. Main St., Suite 546, Memphis, TN 38103 or e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .)


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