Tom Zutaut arrived as a record label A&R (Artists & Repertoire) man in an unlikely way. Given an entry-level job at Elektra Records at the beginning of the 80s, he felt that the label's current artist roster was weak and that they needed to sign new artists.
He first suggested Joan Jett. No, they said. Jett would soon hit it big in her post-Runaways life with a smash cover of The Arrows "I Love Rock 'n' Roll."
After that he pegged The Human League as future hitmakers in the U.S. after seeing their fledgling but promising start in the U.K. No, they said, and the U.K. outfit went on to score a worldwide #1 with "Don't You Want Me".
Then over lunch with a new young exec at the label who invited him out to chat, he expressed his frustration with the label brass and disappointment that none of these or any other of his ideas had been adopted. He would later learn that the young exec was the son of Elektra's then-president.
After the son advised his father of Zutaut's strong critique, the young employee was called up to the president's office. Zutaut thought his job might be on the line at this point.
But, while the conversation was not altogether positive at first, in the end the label boss proposed to sign whichever artist Zutaut next brought to him.
Zutaut's next find was Mötley Crüe, which he got Elektra to sign in 1982, and the rest, as they say, is history...
Some of that history was chronicled in the Crüe biopic The Dirt, with Saturday Night Live alum Pete Davidson playing the young A&R phenom Zutaut.
(The real) Zutaut with Mötley Crüe's Nikki Sixx in the early 80s
Zutaut would eventually leave Elektra, lured by David Geffen's promise to 100% back his talent-finding instincts. This would lead to Zutaut discovering Guns N' Roses at the Troubadour in 1986 in L.A. and Geffen signing them shortly after.
From the creation of GNR's epic debut Appetite For Destruction, to follow up masterpieces Use Your Illusion I and II, to later encouraging (and cajoling) Axl Rose to finish Chinese Democracy, Zutaut rode a long journey through the rock n' roll jungle to help the group rise to the pinnacle of rock success.
While the two truly epic bookends to his A&R career are Mötley Crüe and Guns N' Roses, Zutaut also signed Dokken and Tesla, and other artists as diverse as Edie Brickell and Enya. In 1995 he was tapped by EMI to head up a new label as this press release describes:
MusicGoldmine.com is fortunate to have acquired a collection of Tom Zutaut-presented Mötley Crüe and Guns N' Roses record awards. Together they chronicle the spectacular success achieved by both of these acts under Zutaut's A&R tutelage.
Here are the awards in more or less chronological order (click on each award's photo to see more photos and full details of that award):
Mötley Crüe Shout At The Devil RIAA Gold Album Award. Certified 500,000 sold on Jan. 12, 1984 [SOLD]:
Mötley Crüe Shout At The Devil RIAA Platinum Album Award. Certified one million sold on Feb. 7, 1984:
Mötley Crüe Theatre Of Pain RIAA Platinum Album Award. Certified one million sold on Aug. 22, 1985 [SOLD]:
Guns N' Roses Appetite For Destruction Geffen Six Million Sales Award. Estimated to be from 1988 when the album was at six million copies sold [SOLD]:
Guns N' Roses Appetite For Destruction RIAA 10x Multi-Platinum LP Award. Certified ten million sold on Mar. 25, 1993 [SOLD]:
Guns N' Roses Use Your Illusion I RIAA 7x Multi-Platinum Award. Certified seven million sold on July 16, 1997 [SOLD]:
Guns N' Roses Use Your Illusion II RIAA 7x Multi-Platinum Award. Certified seven million sold on July 16, 1997:
Guns N' Roses Use Your Illusion I & II RIAA Gold Music Video Award. Certified 50,000 copies each title sold on Feb, 9, 1993 and May 13, 1994, respectively [SOLD]:
Each record award in the collection pictured above comes with one of Tom Zutaut's original Elektra A&R business cards.
See a list of all our items currently in stock for Mötley Crüe here.
See a list of all our items currently in stock for Guns N' Roses here.
See all the pre-owned RIAA and other record awards MusicGoldmine.com currently has for sale here or visit our home page for other memorabilia collections.
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*Note: The RIAA is a U.S. record industry trade organization that created the Gold® and Platinum® RIAA record award program. The awards recognize milestone sales levels for U.S. sales of recorded product.