Michael Nachtigal has for over 40 years been one of the industry's busiest and most successful behind the scenes forces, every artist and manager's premiere go-to guy for major U.S. and world tours. Available now, Nachtigal draws from the intricately detailed daily diaries he kept on every tour --- first on legal pads, later on laptops --- and shares intimate year by year, tour-by-tour stories of his life on the road in his extraordinary, compelling new book, It's Been A Good Run.
Nachtigal is a 50 year music industry veteran who has been around the world numerous times serving mostly as tour manager, but also for some tours as Front of House (FOH) engineer, production manager, monitor mixer and stage manager for globally renowned artists in a multitude of genres - and even a few outside music like The Harlem Globetrotters and The Power Rangers. His resume of cultural icons includes Usher, Jessy Dixon (Paul Simon), Petra, Carman, Leon Patillo (Santana), Sheila E (Lionel Richie), Guy, B.J. Thomas, Linda Ronstadt, The Osmonds, Manhattan Transfer, Megadeth, Kitaro, Pointer Sisters, Ritchie Blackmore, Mark Farner (Grand Funk), Aretha Franklin, Keith Green and Pepe Aguilar
Q: Michael, thank you for doing this interview with us. Tell us what does the job of being a tour or production manager entail?
The tour manager handles all travel arrangements (hotels, flights, ground transportation) catering, band & crew per diems, passports & visas, guest lists and show settlements. The production manager handles all technical details of the show such as lighting, sound, staging, union crew calls and anything technical for the show. But a tour manager is basically a glorified baby sitter for the artist and a resident psychologist
Q: How did you first become involved in the music business?
I grew up in a musical family, as my mother was a professional cello player, and my father was a singer. I started out as a kid on the piano and moved to the guitar as a teenager. The transition into the music business was quite natural.
Q: Of all the musicians you have worked with, can you share a story or two where you were impressed with what you have seen about the artists involved?
Of all the artists, the ones who probably impressed me the most were Lionel Richie, Linda Ronstadt, Carman and Steve Taylor. Not only were these artists extremely talented and popular, they were very humble and easy to work with. They never forgot where they came from. Their work ethic was over the top. My guest lists for these artists included presidents to the janitors in the venues. They would sign autographs after the shows until the early morning hours.
Q: What are some of the challenges many of these musicians often face when they are touring?
I think one of the biggest challenges for these musicians was the amount of time they were on the road and away from their families. Being popular and dealing with the adulation of the crowds can be an ego trap if the artist is not well grounded.
Q: You have written about your experiences in your new book. Tell us more about what readers can find in your book.
The book is full of stories about artists I managed from country to rock and everything in between. I tried to present a real and honest look into life on the road. As a Christian, you see life from a totally different perspective. You have a realistic view of the good, bad, and ugly. For me it was, and still is, a great life once you see through all the hype of the business. The book emphasizes how important it is to know and follow your calling, whatever that is to each person.
Q: A part of the book deals with your own faith. I believe you were not a Christian when you entered the music business, how did you come to know Christ?
I came from a Mennonite family so I had a basic understanding of Christianity. A few people influenced me to look more closely at what I'd up to that point seen as merely cultural. Francis Schaeffer and Barry McGuire probably influenced me the most. I saw from their lives what true Christianity was and how it could be lived in a very dynamic way, regardless of your circumstances.
Q: There may be some readers who may be dreaming of becoming musicians. With your experience in the business, what advice do you have to give them?
I never want to discourage anyone from following their dream, but I want to encourage them to really sort this out before jumping in with both feet. Dedication and hard work are only part of the formula, but divine providence is the determining factor. Not everyone is going to make it as a full time musician. You may have to settle as a part time musician, or just someone who enjoys listening to music.
To purchase the book, click HERE.