April 19, 2018

Q&A: Tony Rose

By LJ Staff

In The Spotlight

Formerly a record producer, Tony Rose (coauthor, Is Modeling for You? The Handbook and Guide for the Young Aspiring Black Model) is now publisher and CEO of Amber Communications Group. He was an architect of Boston’s black music scene from 1979 to 1991 and recorded and engineered music from New Kids on the Block in his studio. It’s very timely that with the recent reunion of the group he has written Before the Legend: The Rise of New Kids on the Block and…a Guy Named Maurice Starr.

Why did you select the music industry as your occupation? Did you sing or play an instrument growing up?

I grew up with a radio under my pillow and since the age of 12 with a guitar in my hand…I guess you could say “music was in my blood.” When my mother was 14, she was a child prodigy of Arthur Fiedler (The Boston Pops) and played at Symphony Hall in Boston many times. I always felt passionate about music; soon after I was honorably discharged from the air force, I went to Los Angeles and literally “fell into” Warner/Electra/Atlanta Records and RCA Records, where I managed to learn the business of music and eventually pursue a path that led to international success as a music producer and music publisher.

Why did you leave producing to become a book publisher?

For a while I was seeing more and more violence…rappers who were gang bangers, bringing guns to my recording studio. Things escalated, and the energy shifted to music that I wasn’t particularly interested in. In 1995, I began to look for an exit strategy and sold my music business. After that I convinced my wife, Yvonne, that we needed to put out a book on modeling in 1998, and we sold over 80,000 copies. That door opened unexpectedly and very suddenly as more and more authors started pursuing us to put out their books. Here we are ten years later, the nation’s largest African American publisher of self-help books and celebrity bios.

Why did Maurice Starr discard his given name Larry Johnson?

In the music business, as in any phase of entertainment, it’s all about the spotlight and stepping into it with a name that’s unique, catchy and different. He thought the name “Maurice Starr” would stir up some new energy and excitement…obviously, he wasn’t wrong about that.

What are your future writing plans?

I have a few books in me. They will be very intense and relating to a totally different side of life…more into politics. That’s all I can tell you right now, but look for another one in a year.