From Gaga to Lana and Viola: The Continued Fame of Bob Leone

A year ago, GagaFrontRow featured an article about Bob Leone, Lady Gaga's first manager back in 2006. Exploring what he has been up to since those days, Mr. Leone kindly agreed to offer another exclusive email interview, revealing some further insights into contemporary pop culture.

Published on Saturday, February 4, 2012

Bob Leone was Lady Gaga's first manager at the time of her entry into the music world as Stefani Germanotta. As seen in a recently released video, Mr. Leone introduced her at the 57th New Writers Showcase at The Cutting Room in New York City on March 23, 2006. That fateful night Wendy Starland called producer Rob Fusari to tell him she may well have discovered the Strokes-styled singer he had been looking for. Gaga would soon thereafter get together with Fusari, who subsequently produced Beautiful Dirty Rich, Paparazzi, and other signature tunes of the then newly-named Lady Gaga. In the Fall of 2006, Gaga dutifully acknowledged Mr. Leone on his MySpace page.


It is more than interesting, especially in hindsight, that Mr. Leone's MySpace page also contains favorable comments and praise from another singer who has hit the spotlight as of late, one Lana Del Rey.

Curious to learn of his involvement with another star in contemporary pop, Mr. Leone reveals that he met the singer, whose real name is Lizzy (Elizabeth) Grant, at The Bitter End on Tuesday, January 31, 2006. Mr. Leone recounts that she met him more or less by chance as she noticed other singer/songwriters were stepping up to speak to him. "I turned to her and asked her," Leone says, "Did you want to speak with me? and she said, Yes, I do. I said, So you're a singer/songwriter, right? And she looked at me a bit astonished & said, Yes, I am, but how did you know? I smiled at her & said, So you have no idea who I am? She said, No. Should I? I told her that virtually every singer/songwriter in the New York metropolitan area knew me because I worked for the Songwriters Hall of Fame (SHOF)." Two weeks later, the then 18-year old singer performed some of her songs to Mr. Leone, who was duly impressed. "From the opening notes of her first song," Mr. Leone says, "I fell in love with her voice. I thought her songwriting had tremendous potential but was undeveloped, yet I was mesmerized by her unusual lyrics and melodies. I told her how impressed I was."

Mr. Leone then became a close friend and served as the singer's mentor. He arranged for her to take a SHOF songwriting workshop led by songwriting and vocal coach Lorraine Ferro. Although Ms. Grant's father was a millionaire, she lived in a New Jersey trailer park in those days and could not afford the modest $250 fee. Mr. Leone stepped in, and the singer attended the 10-week workshop from April through mid-June. During this time, also, she began to perform regularly at SHOF's Open Mics, which Leone hosted.

Mr. Leone next chose the singer to be one of eight songwriters featured in SHOF's June 22, 2006 New Artists Showcase. "It was around this time," Mr. Leone says, "that Lizzy felt confident enough to begin to perform at small clubs." Mr. Leone also featured Grant in a showcase he produced for another songwriter organization on April 6, 2007. Since then, he and Grant have stayed in touch and regularly met for dinner at Zen Palate to talk about the singer's career goals.

Hudson River Park, New York, August 16, 2008

Mr. Leone became fully aware of the growing fame of the singer, now called Lana Del Rey, when she called him in October 2011 to tell him how excited she was about getting signed by Interscope Records, the same label that also houses Lady Gaga. "She told me that she'll never forget what I did for her," Mr. Leone says.


Currently, Mr. Leone has moved on to what he calls his "third superstar discovery," an artist named Viola. This new talent is already working with Belgian-born songwriter/producer Lynn Verlayne, who serves as music industry consultant through her company Lynn Verlayne Studio. (Ms. Verlayne can be contacted at ArtistCoachNYC@gmail.com. Please refer to this article when doing so.)

Mr. Leone is extremely enthusiastic about his exclusive and full-time management of his newest artist, whom he describes "as immensely talented, determined, hard-working and goal-oriented as any artist I've ever known. Viola is everything that I, as a manager, have ever wanted in an artist...and more." He added, "I chose Viola only after thoroughly reviewing literally scores of management requests from aspiring artists all over the world." Mr. Leone has "no doubt whatsoever that Viola will be an international pop superstar, like GaGa and Lana."

Update 2013: Mr. Leone no longer represents Viola, and is now working with other singers. A report will follow soon!  

Mr. Leone can be contacted at bobleone_2000@yahoo.com. More information via his Facebook page.

© Mathieu Deflem for gagafrontrow.net

See also the 2011 article: Bob Leone and the Sociology of the Fame.

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