JOHN REGNA: ONE OF ENTERTAINMENT'S FUTURISTIC RENAISSANCE MEN IN TODAY'S WORLD MARKET
By SHERRY MILLER
Orlando, FL. USA—You can hear a pin drop in the offices of John Regna in Orlando, Florida where a staff of highly specialized entertainment professionals culminate daily to plan and coordinate events for blockbuster entertainers and entertainment events worldwide.
The peaceful atmosphere is out-of-the-ordinary in the fast-paced, high-stress business of entertainment's most sanctified operation – artist management, tour booking, multi-level production projects, record deals and the occasional film deal.
The man with an international reputation for success in keeping box offices sold out and audiences happy, scrambling-for-tickets and literally begging for more from his artists and shows is John Regna
Talent Scouts, Promoters, Producers and Entertainment Business Icons seem to congregate in Regna's office and fight for the chance to share a power lunch. "He's today's man", stated Grammy Award winning Producer Rudy Perez. "He is respected and known for his honesty and integrity and gets along with everyone, which is not easy in show business," added the seasoned Producer and recipient of over 200 Platinum and Gold Albums, along with hundreds of industry tributes.
The quiet, dignified Regna is soft-spoken and carries a big stick in entertainment. He not only knows the business but, he knows the people in the business, how they tick and what motivates them; a talent he has performed for over 43 years, since 1971, in the industry.
"I was a drummer when I was a little guy," he informs this writer while seated casually in an overstuffed black leather sofa that faces a floor to ceiling, wall to wall bubble glass window that overlooks a bustling Orlando skyline of multi-faceted amusement centers and parks. "I was five years old when my parents sat me down at my first drum set. I guess it’s creating the beat and providing the rhythm that got into my blood."
Indeed, today Regna's beat is like the pied-piper himself with some of the best international entertainers being attracted to his success record rhythm and becoming a part of his roster of the most celebrated, famous and successful Artists in show business which have in past and recent years included Five Time Grammy Award Winner Dionne Warwick, Alan Parsons, Barry White, Nazareth, Tangerine Dream, Julio Iglesias, The Duke Ellington Orchestra, Gloria Gaynor, Natalie Cole, The Commodores, KC & The Sunshine Band, Kool & The Gang, The Electric Light Orchestra Part II, Six-time Grammy Award winner Jose Feliciano, French superstar Richard Clayderman, The Mamas & The Papas, Lesley Gore and The Nelson's are just a few of the celebrated world-acclaimed Artists along with many other Artists of similar esteem.
The family entertainment division is now in discussions on developing new live tours and have completed over 24 years of tours of "The Imperial Circus of China," along with mounting new tours in 2016 and 2017 for the ICC and for "Circus Venus" (the first all girl cirque) as well as “The Moscow Circus On Ice”, the National Dance Company of Ireland’s “Rhythm of the Dance” and “One Night in Buenos Aires”.
Starting his entertainment business in July of 1971, his company originally was based in Hudson County, New Jersey with a satellite operation at 1650 Broadway in New York City. It was during these early years great relationships, many of which have lasted all these years, began. As the years progressed, the firm moved to Bergen County, New Jersey where it operated from 1985 through 2002 at which time the entire company moved to Orlando, Florida to expand operations into more forms of entertainment.
Mr. Regna consulted the Trans Continental companies from 2002 through 2003, the creators of the Backstreet Boys, ‘N SYNC, L.F.O. and O-Town which entailed developing some new and interesting entertainment opportunities for up-and-coming Artists in the same market niche. However, during this time, his firm was operating independently with the mission of growing the careers of music and stage artists.
Since his early years of managing artists, their talent and their careers, John Regna started out at the age of fourteen promoting local dances in his home state of New Jersey and, at sixteen years of age, started playing backup for legendary national acts such as The Shirelles, The Belmonts, The Coasters, The Drifters, The Reflections, Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry.
On October 14, 1971 in Jersey City, New Jersey he was the first one ever to start promoting bands using the words "Classic Rock". Years later, the term was embraced by a radio station disc jockeys and the rest is history. That factor alone is one of his memorable achievements.
While in college, and in the role of promoter or co-promoter, Regna worked with such infamous luminaries as The Bee Gees, Rod Stewart, Joe Cocker, Savoy Brown, Cheech and Chong and he debuted the Northeastern leg of the first major tour of Ms. Bette Midler, which also helped launch Regna into international entertainment promotion prominence. Parlaying his profits, Regna continued his college education at Saint Peter's College at their Hudson County Campus graduating with a double major in Business Management and Advertising. He spent his four years of higher education also promoting, co-promoting, co-marketing or acting as a consultant for concerts by Bruce Springsteen, The Bee Gees, Led Zeppelin, Rod Stewart, Joe Cocker, David Bromberg, Nazareth, The New Riders of the Purple Stage, Jefferson Airplane, Blue Oyster Cult, Aerosmith, Cheech and Chong, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Little Richard, The Jackson Five and many others.
As a lover of classic American film, it was during his college years that John Regna met his longtime idol, legendary film director Frank Capra ("It Happened One Night"), whom he invited to his college for Capra's first-ever film forum. So successful was the session that the aspiring Regna developed a phenomenal additional area of expertise – giving and managing Lecture Tours himself personally as well as with very select clients. President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Senator Orin Hatch, Senator Ted Kennedy along with other Congressmen and Senators have availed themselves of Mr. Regna's services on choice occasions.
Through his promotional and marketing techniques, Regna could transform any truly talented act into a success through his self-designed press kits and media publicity vehicles unlike any in the entertainment industry at that time. He learned extensively all aspects of the printing and graphic design businesses in the 1970’s to the extent of forming an associate operating company in the late 70’s and early 80’s which, today, still impacts the marketing strategies he launches exclusively for his signed Artists.
By the mid 80's John Regna realized the world was shrinking and audiences were becoming closer and communication easier through the very beginning of global technology. He began what not many in the entertainment industry foresaw – building a strategic network of exclusive and non-exclusive partners in over 20 countries. By 2017, that network includes 53 countries and is growing. There used to be an inside joke in the industry which was, "call Regna and he'll book you a tour in a country you haven't even heard of yet," chuckled the impresario.
As he was building the network, he set out to book Dionne Warwick, Bobby Vinton, Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, Donnie and Marie Osmond, The Commodores, Natalie Cole, KC & The Sunshine Band, Joan Jett, The Temptations, Paul Anka, Barry White, Chuck Berry, Little Richard and others in select worldwide concert events and appearances. He also enjoyed a five year focus on the career of the late superstar Ricky Nelson and worked with Ricky and his team until his death. The comeback tours of Fats Domino, Junior Walker and the All-Stars, Brook Benton and Peter Noone of Herman's Hermits were also among the 'family' that he took into second and third generations of fans in the 80’s.
Following a natural inquisitive instinct, Regna pooled all his resources of the day and began building relationships within the world of Soviet and Chinese entertainment and within only two years had successfully produced and booked the first fully Soviet Ice Show to ever perform in the United States which he titled “Moscow On Ice”. This was not only a first, but also a record breaking thirteen-week non-stop sellout performance tour. Agent and Manager Magazine published an article entitled “Anatomy of an Ice Show” based on that success.
He is also the exclusive worldwide Owner and Producer of “The Imperial Circus” that has recently completed tours of the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, England, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, Lebanon, India, Dubai, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Chile, Brazil and Mexico. Upcoming tours include a host of other countries.
Regna, along with the Producers of the Tropigala Showroom in the Fontainebleau Hilton Hotel in Miami, as an “experiment” mounted a special three year presentation of The Imperial Circus from 2002 to 2005 especially designed for a more intimate audience experience. This was the start of an effort to have more intimate companies of The Imperial Circus appearing at hotels and casinos around the world.
Regna has worked with three White House administrations (on the annual "Pageant of Peace"), the Vatican (on "Christmas at the Vatican"), the government ministries of China and Russia (on circus, ballet and theater projects) and India (serving on the Board of Directors for India's first film awards – The Bollywood Awards) and is today at the forefront of opening the doors of entertainment to the world with new forms, new acts, new talent and new productions that crossover boundaries of the past. "There is no such thing as being limited in entertainment," stated this man who represents some of the world's most well known celebrities. "And the world provides an unlimited stage and an unlimited audience potential not only for Artist's but for their Record Labels, Managers and Producers as well as the Merchandising possibilities now available through global communications. There is no limit he concluded. This is the most exciting era in entertainment."
Regna's enterprising staff also consists of experts in the field of female entertainers and entertainment with Regna having been one of the first in the business to open select doors internationally for special U.S. events and overseas tours by Dionne Warwick, Mary Wells, Helen Reddy, Connie Stevens, Freda Payne, Rita Coolidge, Lesley Gore and Peggy Lee as well as others. His firm also houses strong divisions of targeted expertise in African-American Entertainers as well as a Latin Music Division and with the advent of the first “all girl” cirque, will continue in that tradition.
Known as one of the founders of the North American classic rock touring tradition, Regna and some of his colleagues were the first to develop and produce summer concert tour packages with multiple acts on the bill. "The Happy Together Tour" in 1984 with the management of The Turtles, "The Greatest Voices of Rock & Roll" which has featured many of the greatest singers of that genre, "Shake, Rattle and Rollerblade", "Three Men & Their Guitars", "Six String Heroes" and "An Evening of California Dreaming" with The Mamas & The Papas, The Byrds and Melissa Manchester debuted with such impact that their success is still remembered today.
John Regna really is a Renaissance Man who takes every day in stride, step by step. He takes it slow, methodically researches and analyzes not only the people but also the deal they place on his conference table. He relies on honesty, loyalty and dedication from the experts within his corporate ranks.
"Everybody’s happy here," he'll tell a visitor as he exudes with personal pride and a broad smile. "Everybody's doing what they love to do and what they do they are the best at or they wouldn't be here."
And with that, the man that fought for women Artists to be recognized in a more prominent, respectful, fair and dignified way in American entertainment and who has launched and maintained some of the most successful Artist's and tours over the years rises from the leather sofa in his office framed with gold and platinum records and personal letters of thanks from celebrities and U.S. Presidents. He sits down in front of his computer on his wrap around executive credenza surrounded by personal photos of his wife, his four children (and their spouses), his two grandsons and his mother and dad, all of whom the Renaissance Man says are “the most meaningful focus of my entire life. Will you excuse me? I just had an idea while we were talking." And with that he logs-on with his creative juices flowing again, fast at work creating something or someone brand new for the world to enjoy.