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Subject: Tom Watkins, Music manager helped launch the Pet Shop Boys

Dead at 70
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Date Posted: Tuesday, March 10, 04:02:59pm


Tom Watkins: The man behind Pet Shop Boys and Bros dies at 70

Tom Watkins, the music manager who helped launch the careers of Pet Shop Boys and some of the UK's other biggest pop acts, has died aged 70.

His agent confirmed to BBC News he died on 24 February but was unable to give more details.

Watkins had been suffering from poor health for a number of years.

In the 80s and 90s, he guided Pet Shop Boys to a string of number one singles and also managed Bros and East 17.

Among the Pet Shop Boys' greatest hits under Watkins' management were West End Girls, It's a Sin, Always On My Mind and Heart,

Watkins went on to co-write Bros's biggest hits - When Will I Be Famous?, Drop The Boy and I Owe You Nothing.

The group shot to fame to become one of the biggest pop acts in the UK and headlined Wembley stadium in 1989. But their success was short-lived and did not survive beyond a third album.

Despite his music success, Watkins and the performers he managed had difficult relationships.

Matt Goss said of Watkins in 2017 that "he was one of the best managers we ever worked with... but there was a compassion that was lacking".

In Watkins' memoir Let's Make Lots of Money, titled after the Pet Shop Boys hit, he painted an unflattering picture of Bros as a group obsessed with their own egos.

He was similarly scathing of Pet Shop Boys, saying: "They just developed super-egos and tried to make out that I had nothing to do with their success, which is bullshit."

In the 1990s, he again made his mark with boy band East 17, who had 11 top 10 singles including the 1994 Christmas number one Stay Another Day.

Before he entered the pop world, Watkins was a designer, working for Terence Conran.

"I'd given up designing to manage all the bands,' he said in 2014, adding that he first trained at the London College of Furniture.

Watkins went on to use his design skills to start his own company, XL Design, who created record sleeves for hit groups including Wham!, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Duran Duran.

Yearning to get back to his design roots, in later life, Watkins created his own Bauhaus-style house in Pett Level, East Sussex, which was featured on the TV show Grand Designs. The presenter Kevin McCloud described it as a "perfect little sugar lump".

"I had this kind of yearning to aesthetically practise what I'd been taught all those years ago," he said.

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