Book Review: Bob Klanac, “Promo Man”

Bob Klanac - Promo Man

Author Bob Klanac shines a spotlight on one of rock and roll’s men-behind-the-scenes in his entertaining new book: “Promo Man.”

You know those old photos of classic music greats like Johnny Cash and Mick Jagger, where they’re partying and surrounded by interesting, but anonymous people?  If, like me, have you wondered who those people are, and/or how they got in the room with these superstars?  Bob Klanac’s new book, “Promo Man,” gives you the back story to one such man: a fella by the name Nick Panaseiko. 

For those who don’t recognize the name, London, Ontario’s Nick Panaseiko had a long career as talent manager and promo man from the 1960’s-1990’s. Among his many crazy accounts and accolades: he helped get KISS and Rush recognized and played on the radio; he was there when Johnny Cash proposed to June Carter in his home town (the real-life depiction here is far from the Hollywood version in the Cash biopic “Walk the Line”); and he was involved in the Rolling Stones 1977 residency in Toronto (and subsequent arrest of Keith Richards in the process). The list goes affably on.

Bob Klanac

Although there are anecdotes which end in felonies or some other bad luck or turn of events, Klanac keeps the proceedings jovial and light. The music industry has already dissected all the horror stories, debauchery and untimely deaths… to death.  What I love about “Promo Man” is its poise to forgo the usual headlines, and to instead dig deeper into what happened behind the scenes of some memorable concerts and promotions of the labels, musicians and their products.

Chapters are mostly told directly from Nick himself, confirmed by quotes from a few others and then given context and flavor by Klanac. I’m a long-time Londoner myself, so it was easy for me to visualize the locations, and place myself in the past environments. However, I certainly don’t think you need to be from here or Toronto (where many other tales take place) to appreciate them. The many charming photos of Nick and his celebrity entourage also help bring these chronicles to life.

I’m purposely being vague on direct stories from the book as I don’t want to ruin any of the surprises.  Suffice to say, anyone with a love for good-old rock and roll tales should quickly add this to their reading list. A fun tale of what absurd leaps were required for a record to get airplay before the days of music videos, streaming algorithms, YouTube or TikTok. 

For folks in the London, ON area, pick up a copy here: https://www.brownanddickson.com/collections/art/products/9781777943400

For those much further away: https://www.amazon.com/Promo-Man-Backstage-Tales-Jungle/dp/177794340X/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3ECOT1IZBL1U4&keywords=promo+man&qid=1642365446&sprefix=dune+2021+bluray%2Caps%2C205&sr=8-1

A bit of a Renaissance man, Steve Murphy is a singer-songwriter, author, and journalist based out of London, Ontario. An avid vinyl collector and audiophile, his personal collection of albums is wide ranging and in the thousands, including four released from his band Westminster Park.

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