THE HISTORY OF THE NEAL HOLLANDER AGENCY

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BOCA RATON, Fla.
The music many people grew up with is not making a comeback. It never left! And it won’t ever die, not if Neal Hollander has his way. Mention oldies-but-goodies acts — The Drifters, The Marvelettes, The Tokens, The Ink Spots, The Del-Vikings, Little Anthony — and you must mention Hollander. For 25 years, this booking agent has been working to keep these artists in the public eye around the country and overseas in nightclubs, theatres, arenas, as well as fairs, conventions, trade shows, high school auditoriums, on cruise ships, on college campuses, making the beach condo club circuit — just about anywhere you can plug in a microphone, set up chairs and sell tickets. These classic nostalgia groups, he says, “are more popular today then they were then.”


Today, Hollander owns his own Neal Hollander Entertainment Agency in Boca Raton, Florida, started in January of 1987. Previously, he was an owner and agent at Banner Talent Associates in New York City, spending 16 years with the agency whose artist roster focuses on oldies groups. “We were limited. I didn’t have the freedom to branch out and do other things I wanted to do.” he says. The “other things included booking comedians, impressionists, magicians and other variety acts, as well as non-oldies bands, which he’s now free to do. “I do have a reputation that has followed me when I left Banner,” he says, “because I built up a good reputation there, people call me.” But freedom is nothing new. Before Banner he was on his own, accepting “a few dollars” for getting gigs for groups.



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“I was friendly with some guys who were in a band at one time,” he recalls, “and I also knew somebody who owned a bar. One weekend, he got notified that the band that was playing there was not going to come. So he asked me if my friends would do the date that night. And it worked out well. So when the guys got paid, they gave me a few dollars afterward for phone calls. About three weeks later, the same thing happened. I called them and said, “‘Why don’t I try to work around and find you dates, places to play?’ And that’s what started it.”


At the time, however, he was already working in the entertainment business — at Nevins Amusement carnival on Long Island, to be exact. Then a youngster, he set up rides and ran booths of luck and skill, occasionally hitching up with other carnivals traveling around the country. Wanting to take a chance of his own, he bought a few games and became grand master of his own spinning wheel of fate. He recalls one game he owned called The Swinger. “It was a game that had a bowling pin and you had to throw the bowling ball, hanging on a chain, past the pin and knock it over on the way back. Its big business,” he says about the carnival industry, “It’s probably the biggest form of outdoor business there is. I just happened to like music a little better, and I stayed with the carnivals for many years even while I was doing music.”


“There’s a lot of people in the business who take it like a game — they don’t take it seriously. A lot of people do the wrong things and make it hard for legitimate agents to work. But I don’t think it’s a game,” he emphasizes, “I think it’s a lot of fun and I enjoy myself. I wouldn’t want to do anything else”