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Southern Cultures 12.4 (2006) 20-21

Sidney A. Seidenberg, 1925–2006
["Everything leads me back to the feeling of the blues."]
[In B.B. King's Words . . . ]

Sid Seidenberg was B.B. King's long-time personal manager and friend for over forty years. The following tribute is compiled from a variety of sources, including birth, immigration, military, and death records, U.S. Army discharge papers, and published biographies of B.B. King with background on Seidenberg, as well as the personal knowledge of Larry Seidenberg, his son.

Sidney A. Seidenberg, a prominent manager in the music business for many years, passed away on May 3, 2006, after a long illness. He was eighty-one. He began as a music business accountant, and, during a career that spanned thirty-five years, he managed the careers of B.B. King, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Tom Jones, the Temptations, the Drifters, and many other musicians, songwriters, and entertainers.

Sidney was born in what is now Szczuczyn, Poland, in 1925, in an area of East Prussia that was invaded by the Soviet Red Army and the Nazis, and finally granted to Poland in 1945. He immigrated to the United States in 1930 at a young age. Most of Szczuczyn's Jewish populations were later forced into ghettos, which were destroyed by the Nazis on November 2, 1942. He immigrated on the S.S. Arabia, entering through New York's Ellis Island and settling in West New York, New Jersey, across the river from Manhattan. He attended Memorial High School until the United States entered World War II.

In 1942 Sidney, or Sid, as most people called him, began working in Washington, D.C., for the War Manpower Commission as a civilian, writing reports and handling secret classified information. He was drafted into the Army in May 1943 and stationed at Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, as part of the 69th Infantry. Coincidentally, B.B. King was also stationed at Shelby, but in a segregated unit. The two would not meet until some twenty years later. Sid achieved the rank of Staff Sergeant and was honorably discharged in 1946. He was a lifelong member of the Jewish War Veterans.

Through the G.I. bill, Sid enrolled at New York University in the evening program in accounting, attending the Washington Square campus on Waverly Place. He graduated with a B.S. in 1949 and went to work for Manhattan firms handling taxes and general business accounting. During this period, he did the books for and managed the careers of the Dorsey Brothers and Welsh singer Tom Jones. In the 1960s, he worked for the Eastman Law firm, where he learned much about show-business and music-royalty accounting. Owner Lee Eastman was an attorney who was the business manager of the Beatles and handled the affairs of their company, Apple Corps.

Sid was B.B. King's exclusive personal manager for most of the musician's career and booked many of B.B.'s concerts through abc Booking, headed by Joe [End Page 20] Glaser, the company's legendary president and manager of the most famous black musicians of the jazz era.

By the late 1960s, Sid established his own accounting practice in New York. Over the next thirty-five years, his office at 1414 6th Ave. (now Avenue of the Americas) became a fixture for a stream of show-business clients. He helped introduce the music of B.B. King (notably The Thrill is Gone, produced by Bill Szymczyk) to white audiences in the late 1960s with bookings at Bill Graham's Fillmore East and George Wein's Newport Jazz Festival and scheduled performances for B.B. on the Ed Sullivan show in 1970 and 1971 as well as steady appearances on the sets of Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin, David Frost, Johnny Carson, David Letterman, and Jay Leno. Some highlights of his career and the many tours he arranged for B.B. King include a ten-day tour in 1970 with the Rolling Stones, an African tour sponsored by the U.S. State...


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