Mim Scala Interview – Manager, Agent and Explorer Extraordinaire

Mim Scala in North Africa, exploring the roots of the Blues 

I reconnect with Mim online through Julian Jones Leitch, with who my brother and I enjoyed a brief adventure onstage at the Isle of Wight festival when his adopted father Donovan sang a song in front of us and about 250,000 audience members, a song he’d penned for Julian titled The Pee Song: ‘How much of the pee do you wee
When you’re little and you’re only three?’.

Mim in Ireland

Mim became one of the leading artists’ agents in music and film in London from the sixties onwards. He put together director and talent for the film Sympathy for the Devil for producer Michael Pearson’s company Cupid Productions. While Mim was roving Morocco Michael and Cupid went on to produce the classic car chase movie Vanishing Point, an iconic piece of Noir, somehow pure in its portrayal of a modern driven but also random world.

The first time I encountered Mim I was a little nipper at Nellcôte. He arrived as one of the daily entourage of guests  – each seemingly more exotic than the last – back from his travels in North Africa and looking the part. He had a phenomenally beautiful partner on his arm who rode around the bay in a stretched classic Riva speedboat, usually topless. They certainly made a statement. About that time Mim relates some great stories in our interview.

On the road in North Africa with his extended Land Rover, Shadowfax

I then ran across Mim in my early career as a video producer, when he came to us with a great band called ‘Dark City’, then signed to Virgin. A high energy fusion of rock and rap fronted by two singers, Cass Lewis – later the bassist for Skunk Anansie – and Amos Pizzey – who founded Talenthouse in L.A. Why their act and music never crossed over and made it was always a bit of a mystery to me. Mim says it was a matter of them getting lost at Virgin and not promoted properly. 

While the music industry has no shortage of such stories, with a mix of good fortune and talent for design, Mim then finally had a number one hit with Simply Red, which came together with one of the producers Mim was representing at the time, Stewart Levine. 

Mim with one of his artists

Mim also wrote a riveting book called Diary of a Teddy Boy, which tells of his life growing up in postwar london working for his family’s ice cream parlour, through owning gambling dens, becoming a theatrical agent and merging with the Chelsea arts set in the late fifties and sixties.  

Mim in North Africa

This fascinating figure and his story fit in well with my idea for a latticed first-hand account of people at the front end of film, music and alternative education over the last hundred years. But apart from that, Mim has an infectiously positive attitude to life and that, I suspect, is what has carried him through some of the more experimental times, meeting the beat poets and living their lifestyle to the full in Morroco, then his return to London, donning the ice cream sellers costume and on to his career as a super agent in London. Very interesting – to me – were his travels in search of the source of the roots of Blues music, across Morocco in Shadowfax, his beloved long wheelbase Land-Rover. An adventure which, although he undertook it as a lone traveller, he and Brian Jones had planned to take on together, as fellow explorers. 

Mim around the time we met at Nellcote, where the Stones were recording Exile

I recently interviewed Mim Scala for my proto-mag Altgenerations.com – this online periodical and collection of articles, interviews and stories of some of the more interesting people I’ve met over a lifetime in film, travel and music.

Interview with Charley Weber/Alt-Generations

What advice would you give anybody who wants to get into the music business?

More specifically in terms of the mechanics of how the business really works?

Why did you leave rock ‘n’ roll on the back of Simply Red and such a success?

After Simply Red, how did you come to live in Ireland?

How exactly did the Sympathy for The Devil come together?

After Sympathy you went off exploring the roots of the Blues in Morocco. Cupid then produced another classic film in Vanishing Point. Can you talk a bit about those projects?

Tell us about your good friend Denny Cordell?

You ran gambling dens in London?

Reebop during Mim’s recording sessions in North Africa

Your search for the source of the Blues in North Africa, planned for with Brian Jones, tell us about that?

You met up with some of the Beat poets in Morocco ?

At what point did your travels intersect with us at Nellcôte?

Your family was Italian, how and when did they arrive in England?

You have a son now who rides horses for the Ireland team professionally?

Mim’s son, Fred Scala, riding for the Irish equestrian team. Photo courtesy of Jayz