Comet among the stars
19 April 1999
Irving David, entertainment lawyer and co-senior partner of David Wineman solicitors, is 52, single and most definitely still a lad at heart.
He is impatiently awaiting delivery of his new boy racer machine, a speedy BMW 540, and spends much of his spare time flying. The rest of the time you will find him travelling around the globe on business and pleasure, stopping once in a while to enjoy his other favourite pastime, photography.
David also has a laddish philosophy of life. "If it flies, floats or fucks, rent it," he says, when explaining why high moorage charges prevent him from buying his own plane.
Described by one of his contemporaries as a "bit of an odd bod", David has an engaging personality and his flippant remarks are mischievous rather than misguided.
He grew up in Hendon, North London, before ending up in the fashionable suburb of Finchley. "I share the same supermarket as Mel C," he says proudly, "I see her doing the shopping on a Sunday."
David clearly loves his life with the stars and they seem to approve of the service he offers. Despite a lowly ranking in the legal directories, he has an impressive and trendy practice.
He is currently representing former members of the 1980s pop group Spandau Ballet in their claim for royalties from songwriter Gary Kemp ("Landmark music copyright ruling due", The Lawyer, 12 April). A ruling on the case is expected this week.
Other clients include former Beatles producer George Martin, bands such as Death in Vegas, Red Snapper and Aphex Twin and the manager of Morcheeba.
He represents the BBC in all its music contracts, which includes one of the few acts he has not entertained at the Groucho Club, the Teletubbies. He is also negotiating for TJ Arlette , who is joining leading British act Eternal.
Although predominantly a music lawyer, David is expanding his links with the TV world. He is negotiating a co-production deal with Channel 4 for Henry Rollins and is involved in negotiations over a TV series for MTV's June Sarpong.
When younger, David wanted to be a film producer and he admits to having had no interest in the law. It was his father, a doctor, who insisted he first secure a profession.
He complied, and studied at the London School of Economics, where he kept his dreams alive by writing a regular arts column for The Observer, interviewing the stars of the film business.
After completing his degree, he secured a position with Wright & Webb which, at the time, represented MGM, Columbia and Warner Brothers.
It was his time there, as an articled clerk on u10 a week, that turned him on to the law. "I had an absolutely fantastic time," he says. "It was just a marvellous background. There was such an excitement at the firm, a real buzz all the time."
Under the tutelage of his mentor and hero, former senior partner Oscar Beuselinck, David learned his craft and "drifted" into the music business.
He was doing a lot of work for Warner Brothers which had just started its record label WEA Records and Warner Music in London and, shortly after qualifying, David became the company's in-house lawyer, as head of business affairs.
David continued to harbour aspirations to become a producer, and litters our interview with lines and images from his favourite films. "Lunch is for wimps," he says on his work ethic, quoting Michael Douglas in Wall Street.
David's hectic schedule is reflected in his reputation among colleagues in the industry. "David possesses the ability to close deals quicker than almost all of his contemporaries. He is a formidable adversary," says Eatons partner David Glick.
Adrian Barr-Smith of Denton Hall says he knew David would go far when he witnessed him explaining legal intricacies to Ian Dury and the Blockheads. "He must be a good communicator if he can convey to those guys," he says.
That was during a short spell at Rubinstein Nash, where David was an assistant solicitor, after which he went to Clintons as a junior partner. There he met two other young lawyers, Vivian Wineman and Jeffrey Elton. In 1981, the three left to set up David Elton Wineman, an entertainment, commercial property and litigation practice.
David says they quadrupled their earnings in the first year. However, he says the firm, now a five-partner practice, has not developed as completely as he would wish.
"At the moment the partners are by and large in their late forties or early fifties and we're very cognizant of the fact that we don't want to become too stuffy and find that in 20 years' time we're all retired and the firm disappears," he says, adding that they are now actively seeking to recruit at a junior level.
On a personal level, David says he loves the excitement of negotiating for a highly sought after act, but it is the glamour that really keeps him keen. Dinner with Diana Ross in Hong Kong, boating with Mick Hucknall, clubbing in Miami with Mousse T and Hot'n'Juicy are all in a day's work for David. Little wonder then, that he says he has no intention of ever retiring.
"It would be easy to say it's all hard work and no fun, but that's bullshit. It's very enjoyable and I couldn't dream of being a lawyer and doing something as dreadfully dull as conveyancing or shipping. In a sense the law seems to be an anciliary aspect to it," he says.