Have you ever heard The Cars, The Tragically Hip, or U2?
There’s a good chance that you’ve heard of them because of the behind-the-scenes efforts of legendary rock promoter Bruce Moser – who is responsible for helping break these acts and others in the U.S. through his relentless work promoting them live and on the radio all along the thruway chain that runs between Boston and Cleveland – and hits cities like Erie, Buffalo, and Syracuse on the way.
I was traveling back from Santa Fe over the summer when I found out that I would be photographing Bruce the very next day when I got back into Buffalo. I knew a bit about his history in the rock world because I had actually worked with his daughter Erin Moser in the past, but I was not at all prepared for what an animated and engaging storyteller Bruce is, nor was I prepared for the mind-blowing tales he told me about some of the biggest acts in music. I normally talk a lot on set – it’s important to me to engage with my subjects and draw them out a bit, but this was probably the least I ever spoke on a shoot, because once Bruce started I knew it was better to just listen to the incredible behind-the-scenes stories he was telling me.
He told me about having to convince park police not to arrest the at the time eighteen-year-old members of U2 at Niagara Falls when they decided to hop over the security barrier to get a better look at the Falls.
He told me about seeing The Beatles for $5.50 before they were famous and when you could still hear them play over all the women screaming.
He told me about one of his earliest successes working with an unknown at the time band from Boston named The Cars.
He told me about the first few concerts he ever went to – which just happened to be The Animals, The Dave Clark Five, The Byrds, and Bob Dylan.
He told me about his efforts to help acts from Canada like Rush, The Tragically Hip, and Bryan Adams find early success in the US.
He told me about meeting Robert Frank and talking with him about his rarely seen documentary about the Rolling Stones.
He told me about the time he and his wife played Pong with Bono in a bar in Buffalo on the night that John Lennon was murdered (Bono thought it was a sick joke someone was playing on him.)
That’s pretty epic stuff, and it doesen’t even start to touch on the innumerable other acts he’s worked with that Bruce and I didn’t get a chance to discuss – like Tom Petty, Melissa Etheridge The Goo Goo Dolls, Tom Cochrane, Johnny “Guitar” Watson, Steven Van Zandt, and many more. Getting to sit down with Bruce and learn about his life and career was so much fun, especially because Bruce still comes across as someone who just loves music – listening to it and seeing it played live. He’s a fan, a fan who turned his passion for music into his career – although I don’t know many other fans that own the only copy of a song that was written and performed by Bono for their 50th birthday.