Phil Tripp calls out former EMI and ARIA Chairman David Snell in #metoo open letter
Phil Tripp, CEO IMMEDIA!, Former Publisher Australasian Music Industry Directory and TheMusic.com.au, has called out the late David Snell, a former Chairman of EMI Records and ARIA.
With Phil’s permission, we’ve published the letter in full below:
ME TOO!!!! Even though I’m a male from the music biz.
My ex-wife Lisa related this story on her timeline so I figure I can fill in the blanks. About 25 years ago, she and I were at a Christmas party at the offices of Warner Chappell Music, with the top brass of the biz milling about. Lisa was the highly successful head of Music Staff, an industry specific employment service who had placed many women in top level jobs and she was my partner in IMMEDIA! and the Music Industry Directory.
10 metres away, a grossly drunk David Snell–then Chairman of EMI Records and the Chairman of the Australian Record Industry Association (ARIA)–started to stagger with his toadie in tow to lurch in front of me in a threatening manner, but my hands were firmly clenched behind my back anticipating trouble. He had just met Lisa 10 minutes earlier who was gracious and polite and noted they lived on the same street back in NZ where they both hailed from.
But now, arguably the most powerful man in the industry ( with a lurid reputation for sexual harassment) shocked everyone standing within earshot by saying to me in a soused roar “I just met your wife. She’s a whore. Uglier than a Merino’s arse. Too ugly to f&%#. Why don’t you put a paperbag over her head and take her home?”
Standing right behind me were the heads of Warner Music Australia and UK, the CEO of Alberts, and we were surrounded by stunned execs, wives and industry workers.
And to make it even worse, when I didn’t unfold myself to slug him as a good Aussie would and as Lisa came over having heard her name but not the epithets, he replayed his grotesque content word for word adding “And your husband is too much of a coward to defend your honour.” at which point he stumbled forward to take a fruitless punch.
He was restrained by the Warner CEO mid swing before he could connect who said, “David, don’t he’ll sue you.” I cooly replied, “Let him go Brian, he’s already done more with his mouth than his fists ever could.
At which point, a shocked Lisa asked to be taken home. We called our lawyer Randall Harper from the car, explained the situation and in the course of two days had rounded up statements from witnesses there and by Monday, the then CEO and GM of ARIA called and implored me not to sue him, that he was contrite, regretful and would do what we wanted to settle this. I let them know that I wasn’t suing him, hell, he’d never connected nor defamed me. To their horror, they were told that any legal action would be taken by Lisa for defamation and sexual harassment and we were planning to serve him on the steps of EMI with a media scrum as the UK accounting firm that was auditing EMI were to arrive. And since he was at the party as a representative of EMI and of ARIA, it was up to our lawyer (who was previously the in-house counsel of EMI under Snell but never acted for him personally) as to whether to take the two acronyms along to court as parties to the crimes.
Lisa did not want to pursue a messy and highly visible action but we did want retribution. By Monday EVERYBODY had heard the story and was awaiting some outcome. In my office in Chippendale, Randall on one line, Snell on the other (he’d opted not to use a lawyer) hammered out an agreement accompanied by a non disclosure agreement.
Three weeks later, Lisa and I were written up in the Sydney Morning Herald’s Property Deeds section as having bought a half million dollar property in Newtown, which tripled in value in a few short years.
David was humiliated and left EMI and the industry shortly thereafter. He passed away and I am only free to tell this story due to dead men can’t sue for defamation.
Living well is the best revenge. #metoo
This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.