Original Story by Aaron J. Sams / Don Morgan (2018-02-21)
Paul McGuinness, the man behind Principle Management, attended and dropped out of Trinity College in Dublin. He got his start in the entertainment industry while attending Trinity, directing plays and hiring bands for dances. He left school to work in films, and his first big project was as assistant director for a film by John Boorman called Zardoz. His first foray into management in the music business was an Irish folk-rock group called Spud, which he managed for a year.
Then in 1978, McGuinness met U2. They were supporting a band that his sister was managing, The Gamblers. He signed on with U2 and acted as their manager up until 2013. Paul is retired from the music business now, and pursuing other interests, but along the way U2 was not his only client. On March 29, 1984 McGuinness established Principle Management, a company that managed U2 exclusively for a number of years but would eventually branch out to work with a number of other acts. The name Principle Management was chosen because McGuinness wanted to be more principled than other managers and to look out for his clients, not for himself.
When McGuinness stepped down in November 2013, his interest in Principle Management was sold to the band. Over the years, McGuinness and Principle Management worked with a wide range of artists, and we’ll take a look back at a few of them in this article.
McGuinness worked with the band Spud in 1976. Spud was an Irish traditional rock band that had released a number of singles and a couple of albums for various labels before McGuinness got involved with them. While working with McGuinness, the band released just one single, “Kitty” on 7-inch vinyl in 1976 on Break Records, BKS 001. After working with McGuinness, Spud would record one further album and a couple of singles, but retired from recording in 1979.
Paul McGuinness’s time with Spud not only marked his first time as a band manager, but also saw him establish Break Records, the label under which the single from Spud was released. When U2 released “Three” in the UK, the label on the 7-inch mistakenly read: “CBS Records are the exclusive licensees for the UK & Eire.” McGuinness would send out copies of that 7-inch single with a note attached, claiming: “Astonishing Label Copy Error. Despite the label U-2 are signed to CBS only for Ireland. The band is free worldwide for recording and publishing. Contact Paul McGuinness, Break Records, 65 Waterloo Rd, Dublin 4. Eire. Tel Dublin 686553 / 687952.”
Interestingly, the label on some early pressings of “Another Day” also list the single as “A Break Records Production.” The only other song released on Break Records would be “The Pride of the Herd” by Shaun Davey in 1978. Davey had been the producer of the single “Kitty” for Spud.
The Pretenders / Chrissie Hynde (1987)
After Spud, the focus turned to U2, and it would be a number of years before Paul McGuinness would get involved with another artist. Principle Management was formed in 1984, and in 1987 McGuinness would move into management of The Pretenders for a short time. The Pretenders were a successful English rock band fronted by Chrissie Hynde. According to the autobiography of Chrissie Hynde, Reckless, Paul McGuinness managed her career for “about two weeks.”
Hynde had worked with U2 in-studio in 1984 singing backing vocals on The Unforgettable Fire. She was married to Simple Minds vocalist Jim Kerr at the time, so in the liner notes she is credited as Ms. Christine Kerr. Her vocals apparently appear in the background on “Pride (In the Name of Love).”
At the time McGuinness was involved, The Pretenders were undergoing a number of changes and the line-up of the band was quite fluid, with the exception of Chrissie herself. It was McGuinness who approached Johnny Marr, formerly of The Smiths, to work with The Pretenders and to appear with them live on the 1987 Joshua Tree Tour.
VIDEO: The Pretenders (with Johnny Marr) “Windows Of the World” from the soundtrack of 1969
Marr relates, “I was writing my own stuff for a record when I got a call from Paul McGuinness, who manages The Pretenders. He told me The Pretenders had some gigs lined up supporting U2 in America, and Robbie McIntosh had left; would I do these gigs? That was an interesting invitation because I’d liked The Pretenders’ early record and without doubt (late Pretenders guitarist) James Honeyman-Scott was a big influence. I met with Chrissie and we got on really well. The gigs were fantastic. To learn 30 Pretenders songs in a few weeks was a real challenge. On a personal level, Chrissie helped me immensely with The Smiths split and dealing with the press.”
The Pretenders didn’t stay with McGuinness for long. But the band did open for U2 on a number of dates in 1987, starting with the show on May 27, 1987 in Rome and doing 16 shows in total, ending with the show on November 18, 1987 in Los Angeles.
PJ Harvey (1993-2013)
After Hynde’s short tenure with Principle Management, it would be a number of years before the company would again reach out to manage other acts. The next artist to join the roster was Island Records’ PJ Harvey, who signed with Principle in 1993 and who would remain there (almost) to the end.
In 1993, PJ Harvey had released two studio albums, Dry and Rid of Me, with the latter being released on Island Records. As she was signed to Island, Harvey secured a number of shows with U2, opening for them in stadiums in Europe on the Zoo TV Tour. She opened seven concerts between July 27 (Copenhagen) and August 12 (London). In each case she would be one of two opening acts, with the shows shared between Utah Saints, The Stereo MCs, and Big Audio Dynamite II. During those performances PJ Harvey left an impression on Paul McGuinness, who was known to frequently watch from the sidelines as opening acts performed.
In the book PJ Harvey: Siren Rising by James R. Blandford, the connection is explained further, “The following month, they supported U2 for a set of their European Zooropa stadium shows, climaxing with two dates at London’s Wembley Stadium. The U2 connection proved to be noteworthy in other ways: U2’s managers Paul McGuinness and Sheila Roche of Principle Management in Dublin were so impressed by her that they offered to take over her management contract, making her only the second act on their books after U2. “He was very interested and excited by my performance at those shows,” said Polly of McGuinness, “and he made a point of saying that if I was ever looking for management, he would be interested. It’s changed everything so much: it’s made things easier for me, because they know their business inside out. What’s more they’re not reliant on me as their source of income, which I’d had in the past and that can be a terrible pressure. I like the way they’re handling everything. I love Dublin and I feel like I’m welcome there because I’m now part of the family.”
VIDEO: PJ Harvey’s “Down by the Water” from 1995’s To Bring You My Love
McGuinness himself spoke to the LA Times about Harvey, saying he was “intensely curious about her. There is something very intriguing, very enigmatic about her. She is a rock’n‘roll artist in a great tradition – a puzzle. I Think she will make a long series of great records and they will all be completely different.”
It didn’t hurt that Polly Jean was a U2 fan, telling The Irish Times in 1995, “Actually, I came to Dublin on a pilgrimage to see Larry Mullen! And it’s great how things have worked out because when I was 14 one of my favourite bands was U2 and I’d buy the records and see the Island logo and think ’If I’m ever to be on a record label I want it to be like that’. And I’d see Paul on the telly and think it must be marvelous to have a manager like him and now I can’t believe it’s all come true…”
In 2001, PJ Harvey once again signed on to open for U2 on the Elevation Tour. Each night as she performed, Paul McGuinness could be seen in the crowd intently listening. As one group of fans showed love for PJ night after night, Paul would stop to thank them for their support of her.
Harvey parted ways with Principle in early 2013, months before it was announced that Paul McGuinness was stepping down and selling the company. While with Principle, PJ Harvey’s career was managed day to day by McGuinness and Sheila Roche (up to her own departure in 2004).
Lazlo Bane (1996-1998?)
Lazlo Bane, the next act signed to Principle Management, was primarily handled by Principle’s US office. The band was an alternative rock quartet based out of Santa Monica, California. They signed on with Principle Management as they moved to the label Almo Sounds in 1996. In August of that year they released an EP titled Short Style and in January 1997 they released their first album, 11 Transistor. On both of these recordings Keryn Kaplan and Paul McGuinness of Principle Management were listed as management.
VIDEO: Lazlo Bane performing “Overkill” with Colin Hay from the EP “Short Style”
The band were later dropped by their label and self-produced their second album in 2002. There is no credit for Principle Management on that release, and it appears that the band left Principle when they left Almo Sounds. That second album contained the song “Superman,” which became a theme to the television show Scrubs.
Sinéad O’Connor (1997-1998)
Sinéad O’Connor has had a controversial and troubled career. Where U2 is concerned, she has gone through cycles where she seems very anti-U2, and others where she is very pro-U2. On August 7, 1997 it was announced that in light of her split from EMI Records and manager Fachtna O’Ceallaigh, O’Connor would be joining the Principle Management organization and would be promoted in America by McGuinness himself. O’Connor’s career had stalled in North America after she infamously ripped up a photo of Pope John Paul II on Saturday Night Live, and she felt that McGuinness could help. A source close to Sinéad said at the time, “Sinéad is very anxious to promote her career in America and has been talking to Paul about the two of them working together.”
The first release under this new arrangement was a track recorded by U2 with Sinéad, called “I’m Not Your Baby,” It was released on the soundtrack of Wim Wenders’ film The End of Violence.
VIDEO: U2 with Sinéad O’Connor perform “I’m Not Your Baby” from The End of Violence soundtrack
The relationship with Principle Management did not last long, and in January 1998 Billboard Magazine announced that Sinéad O’Connor had moved on to Pure Management under Steve Fargnoli, after just a few months with Principle Management.
MyTown was a four piece boy band formed in Dublin in 1996. The group was managed by Eamonn Maguire, then owner of Mobius TV Studios. Maguire gave up his TV career to manage the band full time, which eventually brought him to the attention of Paul McGuinness and Principle Management. Maguire was hired by Principle, and MyTown signed with the company in early 1998, just as the band was making a push for exposure in the United States. The band signed a contract with Universal and Cherry Records and started releasing singles worldwide. When Cherry Records was dropped from the Universal label, MyTown was released from their contract, and their album was never released in Europe, although it was released in North America and Australia.
VIDEO: “Party All Night” by MyTown
MyTown parted ways in 2001, but two members, Mark Sheehan and Danny O’Donoghue, went on to form their own band, The Script. Their first album was released in 2008 to considerable success in Europe. The Script opened for U2 at their July 27, 2009 concert in Croke Park.
Paddy Casey (1998-2008)
Paddy Casey is an Irish singer-songwriter from Dublin. He got his first guitar at the age of 12 and started performing around Ireland. He left home at the beginning of his teens to busk throughout the country, finding a lifestyle in Galway playing gigs in pubs where he wasn’t even old enough to be served. He returned to Dublin at age 20 and took to busking in the streets. One day, when he was just 24, he was playing at the International Bar in Dublin when he was approached by Sony Records and offered a recording contract. He signed with Sony.
Paul McGuinness was at that same show and offered to be Casey’s manager. Initially, Casey turned him down, thinking he could do things himself.
Casey told Brian Boyd at the Irish Times, “At first I wasn’t really that interested. Up until then I had done everything myself – absolutely everything, so I didn’t think that there would be anything for Principle to do, but the more I saw of the music business, the more I realised how much I needed someone to look after things that I had no idea of.”
VIDEO: Paddy Casey performing “Addicted to Company” from Addicted to Company (Part One)
Casey would later tell the Irish Independent that he enjoyed working with Paul McGuinness and Susan Hunter at Principle. “I want to focus on making the best music I can and not think too much about how to reach a bigger audience. I’m happy to do the work for it, of course. But I don’t want to think this whole thing is planned out too much. I’m not very good at the promo side of things. I can’t network. Paul is great at that. He knows everybody. The Pope would probably take a call from him. With me, I don’t mind meeting people but I’d rather just chat away to them and not know what the fuck they were doing. I find the whole thing very uncomfortable. When I’m introduced to someone and told ‘This guy is working for you’, it just puts a wall up for me straight away.”
AUDIO: Paddy Casey’s cover of “Mothers of the Disappeared”
Casey remained with Principle Management until 2008. In 2005, Casey opened for U2 in Oslo and at one concert in Dublin during the Vertigo Tour. Casey is still actively producing music. If you manage to track down the compilation Even Better Than the Real Thing Volume 3, an album of U2 covers, you can hear Casey’s rendition of “Mothers of the Disappeared.”
Art of Noise (1999-?)
The band Art of Noise was an art-pop group originally established in 1983. The band included producer Trevor Horn and music journalist Paul Morley. It was Morley who wrote the liner notes for the 2008 remastered edition of Boy. And it was Horn who owned SARM West studios, which he loaned out for the recording of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” He also remixed the 12-inch version of the song.
AUDIO: Art of Noise featuring Rakim, “Metaforce” from The Seduction of Claude Debussy
Art of Noise was not with Principle Management from the beginning, in fact the band predated Principle by a year. But in 1999, seeking new management, they landed with McGuinness for a couple of years. The album The Seduction of Claude Debussy in 1999 was done while the band was signed to Principle, as was the single released with Rakim, “Metaforce.”
During their time with Principle, the band was handled by Donna Estes out of the New York office or Susie Smith from the Dublin office. Occasionally their management was taken on by McGuinness himself.
The Rapture (2004-2013)
In February 2004 The Irish Voice announced that Paul McGuinness had once again signed a new band to the roster at Principle Management, called The Rapture. McGuinness was quoted as saying “These people are a dynamite live act, and that’s kind of what I like best about rock’n‘roll.”
VIDEO: The Rapture performing “Get Myself into it” Live in Studio
The Rapture are a rock band that formed in 1998 in New York City. They released a few singles and signed to Sub Pop, releasing an album along the way. They left Sub Pop to sign with Universal Motown Records, and released their second full-length album on that label. That album, Pieces of the People We Love was recorded with Paul Epworth and Dangermouse.
The band stayed with Principle throughout their career, and disbanded some time before McGuinness made the announcement that he was selling Principle Management.
A number of other acts were part of the Principle Management roster over the years, including the production team TOY, which produced recordings for artists such as Maria Nayler, Flatz, and Camoflage. They appeared to be on the Principle Management roster from 2000 – 2010, and possibly beyond.
The Irish artist Mundy was also once handled by Susan Hunter of Principle Management (2000). The magician Keith Barry also used Principle for his management company (2006). Producer Craig Street was also handled by Keryn Kaplan of Principle Management. He produced Meshell Ndegeocello’s Bitter (1999) and Boyd Tinsley’s True Reflections (2003) while working with Kaplan.
Principle Management often worked on other interests of Paul McGuinness, and was listed as 1/3 owner of the Ardmore Television Studios as well. Principle also provided support to artists getting a start on U2’s own Mother Records.
If you know of other acts that Principle Management represented, we would love to hear from you.
In 2013, McGuinness sold his interest in Principle Management back to U2. Once retired, he started pitching ideas to screenwriters and directors for a new television show. The idea McGuinness explained was “Anyone in the world who starts to make a lot of money… tends to come to the South of France to spend it.” McGuinness would know, as he bought his own house in Éze-sur-Mer, where U2 own homes as well. McGuinness enticed Neil Jordan aboard, and they created the show Riviera which was aired on Sky Atlantic. McGuinness explained to The Journal, “Rich people are very keen to keep their privacy and there’s a lot going on in the south of France that is not written about in the newspapers,” he explains. “Lots of rumours, lots of mysteries and rich people doing terrible things to one another, but out of sight.” Although Jordan was listed as a creator and a co-writer, he pulled out of the series early on and later claimed the two episodes he had worked on were reworked by others. “Riviera” is starting production on a second season in May, and Paul is still involved as an executive producer.
McGuinness has also continued speaking engagements, such as one at the recent International Live Music Conference in London in 2017. At that conference he mentioned he still lurks in the background of the U2 organization but he has no responsibilities. And he does show up from time to time at U2 concerts, having been spotted at shows on The Joshua Tree Tour 2017, and more recently at U2’s appearance in Trafalgar Square last fall. In 2015, he gave an extensive interview with The Irish Times, speaking about life after U2 and his current projects. When asked if he would feel at home in today’s music industry, McGuinness replied “I don’t think I would. I’m curious, but I’m not really involved, except as a spectator and sometimes as a commentator.”