Tony Raine came from England, and his life reached legendary proportions in the local entertainment industry when he moved to New England. He was born on August 4, 1955 in Blackburn, Lancashire. Blackburn is thirty one miles from Liverpool and twenty one miles from Manchester and his father was a drummer: He has one brother Mick who also played drums in a band called Kuba from North Wales whose claim to fame was opening for The Alarm a couple of times. Raine is a self-taught guitarist who learned early he preferred working behind the scenes rather than performing onstage. Raine remembers: ‘I didn’t get into playing music until my early twenties and didn’t think I’d be good enough to get paid to perform but always wanted to make a living in music or performing arts. It seemed there was always demand for production and management people and I knew a little about putting on shows for school and college.’ He showed a knack for music promotion early when he ran a dance club in high school. ‘I was the nerdy audio-video guy,’ he laughs, ‘ I joined to meet the girls.’ The club lacked the money for records, so the inventive teen thought up raising money by putting on dances in the gym on rainy days. Soon he was working as a dj at youth clubs in his area and he hitch hiked across England to see hundred’s of concerts. ‘In October 1970, I was in my senior year in high school and had a massive interest in records and pop music. I was the school dj and hosted dances at local youth clubs on the weekends… A girl at school told me about a concert at King Georges Hall I should go to. I went and saw T Rex. There were only maybe two hundred people at the show and we were all in the cheap seats at the back until Marc Bolan invited everyone down front. From then I was hooked.’ During the next two years Raine saw every major act that came to pubs, concert halls and festivals across England.
Raine went to Fleetwood Nautical College where he studied radio and communications. The Nautical College was a Merchant Marine College specializing in Radio and Navigation Operations. Tony got great training in basic electronics and became Social Secretary of the Students Union which let him get into event promotion, band bookings and basic production. After college, jobs weren’t plentiful so he went to work warehousing record albums at a record store; then moved to London and tended bar. Tony met his American wife Bonnie, in 1974, in London. They married a year later and moved to the States. ‘We are still married and have one daughter and two grandsons,’ Raine raves. Tony worked for a year as a waiter and bartender down South and out West, and then returned to Wales where he ran a pub for over a year.
‘We moved to Boston in 1982, and I joined the Victoria Station restaurant chain to better school myself in operations and business management,’ Raines recalls, ‘I got involved early in the Boston scene with a local band and found my way around the clubs, Chet’s, Jack’s, The Plough, and The Rat. It was an exciting time to be in Boston with so many local bands getting national and international attention.The restaurant owner was involved in travel to Europe and wanted to get Tony involved in the travel business. In 1982, The Who announced their farewell tour and a show at JFK Stadium with The Clash and Santana. There were no New England dates scheduled and Tony suggested to the owner they buy two hundred and fifty tickets and see if there was interest in music oriented travel. They sold out five buses from Kenmore Square and on Sept 25th everyone saw a great show in Philadelphia. Tony then came up with the idea of taking Beatle fans on a Beatles history tour to the UK to coincide with the new Beatles convention in Liverpool announced for August of each year. He booked a table at the NJ Meadowlands for a Beatlefest that year to test the interest level and build a mailing list. He produced a brochure and tour schedule billed as “Get Back To Where They Once Belonged” and set up a booth for three days in NJ. He was approached by Martha Quinn a “VJ” on the new music channel MTV and she asked him what it was all about, so he told her his vision and she went on her way. When Tony returned home he got a call from MTV and they were working on a promotion called “People Really Win.” Someone got to be a roadie for a day on a Bruce Springsteen show and there were other cool prizes. It seems they were putting together a grand prize where four winners would be flown to London on the Concord for a weekend in London including a visit to Abbey Road Studios where they would be presented with the new audio file Beatles Box Set of Albums. They asking him how HE would entertain the winners and where he would take them during the weekend to keep them entertained. Raine put together a proposal with Beatle related sights, a walking tour, appropriate hotels and an itinerary which they promptly accepted.They offered to cover his expenses for the trip and to promote his now named “Rock Apple Tours” on MTV as part of the deal. Charles Rosenay of the Beatles fanzine ‘Good Day Sunshine’ contacted Tony after he heard what Raine was doing and he and several of his readers came on the first two tours, in 1983 and 1984, as paying guests. When Tony moved on into the music business full time in 1985 Charles took over offering the tours with the contacts in Liverpool Tony had introduced him to.
By 1985, Tony was in management training at Victoria Station in Burlington and the program didn’t pay very well so he managed to get hired as a bartender at The Channel to make extra money. Peter Boras who was running the club thought he did a pretty good job and asked Tony what else he was doing and Tony told him about Victoria Station. Peter suggested Raine finish the extensive training program and keep bartending part time; and once he finished the training The Channel would hire him to manage their bar operations. ‘There were many crazy nights at The Channel but I well remember the night The Fine Young Cannibals were headlining and somebody let off a tear gas canister in front of the stage and we had to evacuate the building but we restarted the show around 1:30 and stayed open until 3:30. In 1991 I was booking and reorganizing the club. I redecorated the small club which had been Necco Place and rechristened it Vertigo (way before the U2 song) and I had three local artists decorate one wall each: Asa Brebner, Willie Alexander and Joey Mars.’ Raines moved to Chatham on Cape Cod, in 1987 and became the General Manager of The Wayside Inn. In 1988, he promoted his own “Up close and personal” concert series at the Inn and produced shows by Bill Monroe, Roger McGuinn, Country Joe, Loudon Wainwright, Gene Clark, Roy Buchanan and Jim Carol. In the early ’90’s, Raine helped start up Edible Rex in Billerica. Raine, and in 1994 Tony was hired as the manager at The Cape Cod Melody Tent and in 1995 took on the production manager duties as well. By 2012, Tony was managing the venue and production for both The Melody Tent and South Shore Music Circus. He has since promoted local shows and fundraisers, booked bands into Cape clubs, produced CD’s for several Cape artists, and managed performers like Siobhan Magnus, the 6th finalist in the 9th season of ‘American Idol,’ and The Beat Poets, Les Sampou, Fred Fried, Lisa Jason and Jimmy Keys. Tony gave these local performers a break by having them open for national acts while running The Tent. Raine reflects: ‘In late 2016, Siobhan and I parted company and I stayed in Muscle Shoals helping to develop music tourism producing music oriented “audio tours” around studios and places of interest in Muscle Shoals, Nashville and Memphis.’
Tony made a living in the non-seasonal Winter months as a music producer and promoter. He also designed web sites for musicians like Ray Davies of The Kinks. ‘I promoted a show with Ray at the Cape Cod Community College and The Kinks had played at The Melody Tent in 1995 so I thought I had a bit of a relationship. I was working in the winter months on the Cape trying to develop internet business and I managed to convince Ray that he needed a web site. I built his initial web site and that led to developing one for Carly Simon. We were in fairly early but as the net developed so fast and the technology enabled everyone to do what we were doing it became too competitive for us.’ In 2018, Tony was rehired by South Shore Playhouse Associates as Director of Production for both Cape Cod Melody Tent and South Shore Music Circus which keeps him busy May to September. ‘I consider myself a self taught “musicologist” at this point and am eager to exploit the knowledge I’ve accrued as I developed music related travel products. I’m working hard to present our venues as first class facilities which can attract and present world class artists for years to come in the tradition we have maintained for over sixty years.’ In the near future, look for him to start working on a book of short stories from his encounters and memories from what has become more than forty years since he started out hitch-hiking the rock and roll highway.
(by A.J. Wachtel)