Behind the Scene: Bob Daitz
“My most stressful days are in the middle of tours where we do every day, every city, every car and every show for bands that have two or three moves in one day,” Bob Daitz says of his busy “season” in the entertainment transportation business. Between May 1 and Dec. 1, he will regularly put in 15-hour days, juggling 60-90 jobs at a time. “It’s very labor intensive when you’re looking at shows everywhere from Southeast Asia to the southeast Bronx.”
Daitz grew up in Flushing, Queens, where he immersed himself in the city’s burgeoning rock-and-roll music scene, before moving to nearby Great Neck, N.Y. (“In high school, I went to see this band play Tompkins Square Park called the Grateful Dead,” he says with a laugh.) When a career as a musician didn’t quite pan out, he used the contacts he’d made as a performer to land a gig as a road manager with the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. For almost 50 years, Daitz has remained in the live-music world, working for Sammy Hagar and Van Halen and, eventually, shifting his interests to the transportation world. These days, Daitz channels the skills he honed on the road into a successful business coordinating ground transportation for many of the A-list acts he met along the way. “There’s a certain flow that never stops,” he says.
After a few years on the road with Ike and Tina Turner, you found your way to Syracuse, N.Y. What happened next?
In 1973, I moved to Syracuse and, while still playing music, began to work for a local promoter, Cedric Kushner. We worked in a lot of secondary markets throughout the Northeast—from Rochester, N.Y. to Bangor, Maine and down to Baltimore—and we were the primary promoters at the Palace Theatre in Albany, the War Memorial and the Landmark Theatre in Syracuse, and the War Memorial in Rochester. We competed against John Scher, but we had our markets. Cedric Kushner, the company’s principal, made a lot of friends. We got very close with Fleetwood Mac, and we ended up doing all their East Coast shows and brought them to Madison Square Garden a couple of times. I was the production manager and a stage manager—I remember meeting [legendary promoter] Ron Delsener for the first time at one of those shows when he just yelled at me. It was a wonderful moment. [Laughs.]
Did you return to tour management after that?
I started to get burnt out and moved to the Midwest in 1980, and I got out of the business for a long time before I ended up going back on the road in 1984 with Sammy Hagar as his production manager. That started the second stage of my touring life. In 1985, Sammy Hagar joined Van Halen and it was wonderful to work with the new regime of a band that had quite a touring legacy. I became the road manager and did that until 1999. It was a fun job—good, steady work—and though there were a few changes along the way in their personnel, I managed to be a constant and stayed with it. Then, in 1999, I left and did a little bit of a world tour with Nile Rodgers.
Did you work with other acts during this era?
In between working with Van Halen, I did some freelance work with record companies like Zoo Entertainment, which was the first label that signed Tool. We had a couple of bands—I tour managed a band called Green Jelly around the world, who had a claymation TV hit called “Three Little Pigs.” They didn’t like touring so I had a meeting with them, went in, infused a little excitement and took them on the road.
Before then, I was introduced to Poison when they were just getting big in 1985, and I became their first tour manager. When I started with them, they had sold 285,000 records and, when I left in 1986, they had sold 1.3 million records and were just catching fire. However, I had made a previous commitment to go to work with Tina Turner. My wife gave me a lot of shit for it, but you can’t really forsake a legacy act like Tina Turner. Also, because of the bad habits that Poison notoriously fell into, it was probably better to be away from the belly of the beast. So I survived that and got back out on the road with Tina Turner. Then, I went back to Van Halen when that finished.
From 1999 until the present, you’ve continued to work with artists but in a different capacity.
After the Gary Cherone Van Halen era, which was the last incarnation of the band that I was involved with, I got off the road and got into the limousine business. I started my business in 2005, so for the first six or seven years I worked for a couple small limousine companies and a couple of big limousine companies. In 2005, my wife and I started our own company, Daitz Personal Logistics.
I ended up providing transportation for bands that went all around the world. One band that I got very close with was Rush. When I was a concert promoter back in the ‘70s, we started working with them when they were a third act on three-act shows. They really weren’t that important in America yet. We grew up together in the music business and they became a supremely popular headline touring band. Keeping those relationships was great. When I moved into the transportation business, it was almost automatic that we could have a dialogue and start doing business. I did their cars all over the world for years and years.
When does your day end?
During the season, it starts around 8 a.m. and goes until 1 a.m., and usually ends with a last-minute check on the computer screen to see if all the reservations have been sorted out and to make sure that all the chauffeurs have been dispatched and that all the information was sent to the bookers—the bookers being tour managers or travel agents.
The cycle begins at 6–7 p.m. ET when rock stars forget to order cars for their wives or girlfriends, or both, and the tour managers have to start calling and ordering cars just after soundcheck or after the show.
This article originally appears in the March 2019 issue of Relix. For more features, interviews, album reviews and more, subscribe here.