Vanity Fair profile of colorful character Jean Pigozzi, whose friends include Elton John, Mick Jagger, Ahmet Ertegun, Chris Blackwell and Jann Wenner. Music related excerpts:
Another mentor, and perhaps a more serviceable one in the dating department, was Ahmet Ertegun, the co-founder of Atlantic Records. He took Pigozzi under his wing in New York, and the two hit the town together, from fancy dinner parties to strip joints. Ertegun taught Pigozzi that business can be fun, but it was his lessons in the birds and the bees that brought out the Don Juan in Pigozzi. “When we were kids we thought if a woman sleeps with you it’s an incredible sacrifice,” Pigozzi says. “Ahmet said, ‘Forget about it. They like it as much as you do’—which was a huge eye-opener for me.” And Pigozzi’s eyes have been open ever since.
… It’s not just staff who have been on the receiving end of Pigozzi’s short fuse. Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island Records, who is as close to Pigozzi as anyone, experienced his impatience firsthand in the early 80s, when the two of them started a little software business. Blackwell remembers, “I had no grasp of what we were doing, and it was difficult because he was very impatient. It was a miserable experience for him, and for me. We stopped it. But there was no lingering fallout or bad vibes.” I’ve noticed, too, how good-natured Pigozzi is about fights. Still, another acquaintance adds this warning: “He’s fun and he’s good company, but you don’t want to be down water from him.”
…When I asked Jagger which of Pigozzi’s personality traits is most surprising, the musician laughed and imitated the voice and tone of a scandalized old biddy: “ ‘Never married!’ That’s what they used to say in people’s obituaries in England when they were gay”—one of the few things Pigozzi is not.
… “Johnny is one of the world’s greatest characters,” says Elton John, who is not part of Pigozzi’s inner circle but has a friendly relationship with him. “I don’t really know what he does, though, apart from always taking those pictures.” This is a refrain echoed even by his close friends—“I don’t actually know much about him,” more than one supposed intimate told me—but everyone in his orbit marvels at his ability to be seemingly everywhere and to know seemingly everyone.