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The magic behind the musicians: How music industry exec Connie Papas Hillman supports Elton John and Chris Hillman
“Here she comes again,” a ballad made famous by rock legend Chris Hillman, could be the theme song for his wife of more than 50 years — music exec Connie Pappas Hillman. Although she rarely took the stage next to her famous husband, nor the recording artist she worked with for more than four decades — Elton John — this sweetheart of the rodeo remains a force to be reckoned with.
Let’s take a look at the amazing career of this music industry veteran. Connie first joined forces with Elton John in 1973 as the Executive Vice President of his Rocket Record Company. In subsequent years, she served as North American his tour producer (1982-2016), which included co-production of the Face to Face tours with Elton John and Billy Joel (1994-2010). She was also the VP of the Elton John Charitable Fund (2003-2016) and served on the board of the Elton John AIDS Foundation (1993-2003).
How did Connie meet the marvelous Elton John? She began her career working for Elton John’s agent, Howard Rose. At 24, she moved to the recording side as Executive VP of the Rocket Record Company, joining John Reid, Elton’s former manager. She was later appointed Executive VP of John Reid Enterprises, co-managing Elton John, Bernie Taupin, Queen, Kiki Dee and Carole Bayer Sager.
Among Connie’s many accomplishments include co-producing Elton John’s Troubadour Benefit Concert in 1974 and his historic concert at Dodger Stadium in 1975. When she was appointed VP of Rocket Music publishing company and VP of Poptropolis Enterprises, she began overseeing television development for The Hudson Brothers.
In this chapter of her career, Connie was one of the few women in the music industry to hold such an impressive series of positions.
Then, in 1982, Connie Hillman formed her own US-based company, Constant Communications Corporation. Between liaising with the British wing of Elton’s management company, her company became the production enterprise for all of Elton John’s North American tours. The company continues to be active as she diversifies her business activities.
What is this maven behind the musicians planning on doing next?
Connie says she’ll be working with her husband, Rock & Roll Hall of Famer, Chris Hillman.
Arguably the pioneer of the genre known as “Country Rock,” hehas carved a permanent niche in the history of contemporary American music through his work with such notable bands as The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers and the Desert Rose Band.
She will also be continuing the development of her collegiate lecture series with emphasis on women in today’s music industry. Scroll down for our email interview with Connie where where we’ll discuss these 8 questions and talk about so much more! And stay tuned for our video and podcast interview between Connie and rising rock star Malka Russell — coming soon to Inkandescent Women magazine!
The Magic Behind the Rock: Shining a light on one of the music industry’s behind-the-scenes legends, Connie Pappas Hillman
- Were you a rock fan as a young girl? Did you play an instrument, sing?
- How did you get into the music business at such a young age?
- How did you meet Chris Hillman? Was it love at first sight?
- Were you star struck when you met Elton John and the other celebrities in John Reid’s rolodex?
- What was it like to organize such high profile tours for Elton John? What were the challenges? Did anything unexpected happen during those concerts?
- Tell us about your experience as a woman in the music industry. You started your own company in the 1980s. Did you face unexpected challenges? Do you have a favorite memory from those days?
- You speak at colleges around the country. Tell us about your talk, and how we can listen!
- Chris Hillman is, of course, a beloved musician. What will you two be cooking up in the years to come — especially now that the Coronavirus has shifted how people gather.