From talking about close friends, bands he has booked and convincing a booking agent to set him up with a room and breakfast to work for commission, you know Peter Noble has worked his way from the bottom to the top. The Police played a TV show on acid whilst on a tour Peter booked for them, Peter booked BB King’s tours at his peak of fame. To put it simply, through being a booking agent and the owner of Bluesfest, he has been instrumental in almost every major artists touring since the 70’s.
Peter started out as a musician, and he remembers hearing Bluess in the Night by Bing Crosby, the first blues record he ever heard. Peter played bass in a band with Dennis Lachlan, and this band quickly dissipated and Dennis went on to form Sherbet, then after leaving the band he managed AC/DC. Peter maintained a close relationship with Bon Scott after playing a gig with Bon Scott’s band before AC/DC, until Scott past away. Peter was driving to the airport to pick up a band when the news of Scott’s passing came over the radio. Peter pulled over and cried.
Buddhism reverberated within Peter as he spent his years as a booking agent, promoter and musician. He has looked at many religions but nothing stuck until he found Buddhism, which he thinks is best described as a way of life rather than a religion. Eventually, after returning to Australia from a long stint in America, co-founder of bluesfest Kevin Oxford brought Peter into the bluesfest enterprise in 1994. Peter recognised in his first year with bluesfest that in order for bluesfest to grow, it needed to diversify the sound from strictly blues, which didn’t exactly line up with Kevin’s tastes. Kevin and Peter were known to have a colourful relationship, and Peter wasn’t afraid to admit it. They split ways after 10 years and Kevin now owns a restaurant/cafe in Mullumbimby. The two haven’t spoken since.
Peter puts down the key moment of bluesfest as Ben Harper playing the 1996 lineup. When questioned on why EDM doesn’t make an appearance at bluesfest, Peter explained that he doesn’t see it as music, or a part of bluesfest. Rather than seeing it as an organic sound created by humans, he hears blocks of sound that he doesn’t necessarily define as music, and is much more interested in booking Neil Young, who has been an elusive act to book.
Peter Noble’s keynote interview on the last day of Bigsound 2014 was simply inspirational. He has had such a full life in the music career from being a booking agent and running one of the most successful festivals in the world, such a full life that hardly any of his incredible tales could be told in full during his hour long interview. It would be excellent to hear more of his stories at another music seminar in the future!