Mr. Glenn Mattina Jr.
By: Nancy Marchbanks
Glenn always loved to be around and work at his father’s club, the Upstairs Downstairs in the View Marche’ Mall located in downtown Biloxi. He couldn’t get enough of the music and the wonderful vibe that filled the place. He also paid very close attention to all the business aspects of the entertainment venue. He learned very quickly how things worked and discovered that being in this environment suited him extremely well and made him very happy. “It was always in my blood I guess. I always loved show business, music and being around people. Managing things came very naturally to me,” Glenn said.
By the time Glenn was in middle school, his father allowed him to have a Teen Club inside the Upstairs Downstairs. He had to do everything himself, from securing the band to collecting all the money (which was $5.00 a head). “Some friends of mine had a little band, so I hired them. The funny thing was, the only song they could play was ‘Ladies Night’ by Kool and the Gang! They played that song over and over again all night long but all my freinds from the neighborhood had a great time. This is what started it all, I was hooked,” Glenn said.
In 1995, Glenn was helping manage The Stairs and in charge of all promotions and booking of the bands that included Information Society, Stevie B, Rob Base, Sister Hazel, Deftones and even Ozzy Osbourn’s lead guitarist, Zach Wylde. He managed the staff, and was responsible for bringing customers in. “Prior to the casinos The Stairs was know for its great live entertainment and was very successful. My dad’s place was the most popular venue in town that often had celebrities stop in for a visit and jam with the house band. Including Ozzy Osborne, Sheila E, Alabama and even Lionel Richie just to name a few. It was a really exciting time because there were so many new bands out there everything was changing on the music scene and The Stairs was part of it,” Glenn said.
As a freshman in college, Glenn was asked to be a runner for the rock band “Rush” while they were in town performing at the Coliseum. The job was an incredible introduction to the mechanics of a tour, and what went on behind the scenes to plan a major rock show. “The guys in the band were really good to me. I got to hang out with them and I learned so much about what it takes to build a rock show. It was such an amazing experience,” Glenn said.
Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and Sound Garden were in their infancy and the Seattle music scene was just starting to arrive on the Coast. The Upstairs Downstairs was a thriving dance club, upstairs and still offered live entertainment downstairs but Glenn wanted it to progress with new artists and the new wave of music and feature them upstairs. This was the music gaining popularity with the younger crowd. “My father wouldn’t let me book the bands I wanted to book in the club, so I got frustrated with the situation and decided to do things another way. This led me to go on and organize the coast’s very first outdoor Annual Alternative Music Festival at Biloxi’s Point Cadet Plaza where several other festivals followed through the years.” Glenn said.
In order to bring the festival to fruition, Glenn needed sponsors. WCPR was a brand new radio station that had only been on the air for two months, located in a little house in downtown Gulfport. They didn’t have many advertisers since the station and format were both so new. Glenn recognized this was a huge opportunity and paid the owner and his staff a visit. He was very young, brash and full of self confidence. With checkbook in hand, Glenn pitched his ideas. WCPR agreed to promote the festival with Glenn which helped introduce the radio station and it’s new Alternative format to the Coast market. The partnership with WCPR made it possible to put on the the Coast’s first ever outdoor Rock concert. It was held at Point Cadet Plaza in Biloxi in November of 1995.
Local vendors and businesses were eager to be a part of this ground breaking event. Glenn’s sponsorship roster grew quickly. He went business to business to secure each sponsorship agreement, and by the time the gates opened, the entire event was paid for in full, the concert was a sell out. Glenn also booked a very new local band, 3 Doors Down for the show that in the end helped 3 Doors Down grab the attention of WCPR. The tremendous success of the concert solidified Glenn’s stellar reputation and things really started to take off.
In 2001, Glenn booked the band, Creed at a local bar called, Knockouts. He paid them $1,000.00 for the gig and now they are paid up to half a million per show!. “My Own Prison” was their first release and out at the time. Glenn also asked 3 Doors Down to open for Creed on the same night and they played for pizza and beer! Shortly after this concert, 3 Doors Down was signed to a record deal and Creed went on to sell over 80 million records. “There is not another promoter in the entire world that can say they had those two bands play together before 3 Doors Down got signed….Later Creed would be the first band that 3 Doors Down would go on tour and open for, it is a very proud moment for me,” Glenn said with a smile.
Shortly after the Alternative Music Festival, Glenn was asked to work at WCPR in sales. “I knew absolutely nothing about radio, but I was so excited and jumped at the opportunity,” he said. It is now sixteen years later, and Glenn is still working with some of the same guys that he started out with. Radio has changed tremendously since those days, but one thing remains the same…promotion is key.
In 2002, Glenn helped organize “ Summer Fest” in Biloxi another outdoor festival. It consisted of three stages and 26 of the biggest bands and most famous artists in the country during that time. Better Than Ezra, Juvenile, Tracy Byrd, Bachman Turner Overdrive and Vanilla Ice were just a few of the stars that were on the schedule. Glenn also booked such shows as the Chippendales, sporting events and other concerts. Mattina Entertainment was everywhere!
During a period of great personal turmoil, Glenn took a hiatus from his work at the radio station. With the support of close friend, Todd Harrell of 3 Doors Down, he was able to continue to work in the entertainment industry that he loved so much. Todd was in the process of launching an independent record label called Imprint Records. He asked Glenn to come on board to assist with the project.
Once again Glenn excelled. He handled all the promotions, and worked day and night with 10 separate radio stations in eight different states in order to introduce Imprint Records to the masses. Todd and Glenn developed “Search for the Next Rockstar” competition which was another huge success. The band Illbreak, from Atlanta, Georgia won the competition.
Illbreak went out on tour with Saliva for three months and also opened for 3 Doors Down several times. Todd wanted Glenn to accompany the band and serve as the tour manager. “We had a blast and formed a lasting friendship. Saliva sold out several venues (and now will be performing for Glenn’s company, Atlas Fights on June 9th @ Hard Rock Hotel & Casino), and I loved being a part of it all,” Glenn said. Unfortunately, the Imprint label did not last. Todd decided to shut it down but the experience was invaluable for everyone involved.
After Katrina, Glenn returned to radio. Mississippi Media (WCPR) wanted the seasoned veteran back and Glenn was ready to take advantage of this opportunity. He was a changed man. So much had happened, and he had matured in many ways. “I went through some very difficult times do to wrong decisions I made along the way. Now, I feel so blessed and I am very thankful for the life that I have,” he said.
(In Part 2 of the Glenn Mattina Jr. story – Two brand new business ventures begin, and Glenn takes over the operations of the Upstairs Downstairs. Look for it in the July issue of Go To Places Monthly)