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Music manager behind Pet Shop Boys and East 17 dies aged 70

Tom Watkins also worked as a songwriter and graphic designer.

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Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe of Pet Shop Boys (Matt Crossick/PA)

Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe of Pet Shop Boys (Matt Crossick/PA)

Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe of Pet Shop Boys (Matt Crossick/PA)

Tom Watkins, the music manager behind Pet Shop Boys and East 17, has died aged 70.

His literary agent, Johnson and Alcock, said he died on February 24 and that his funeral took place this month.

Watkins, who was born in London, was responsible for shepherding various pop acts to success in the 80s and 90s.

VO5 NME Awards 2017 – London
Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys (Matt Crossick/PA)

He found fame managing Pet Shop Boys from 1984 to 1989 as they topped the charts with four hit singles: West End Girls, It’s A Sin, Always On My Mind and Heart.

Watkins also managed twin brothers Matt and Luke Goss, known as Bros, between 1986 and 1990, and East 17 between 1992 and 1997.

He notably co-wrote Bros’ biggest hit, When Will I Be Famous?

During that time, Watkins also looked after acts including Electribe 101, Faith Hope & Charity, 2wo Third3 and Deuce.

Brit Awards 2019 – Arrivals – London
Matt Goss (left) and Luke Goss of Bros (Ian West/PA)

Pet Shop Boys singer Neil Tennant once described Watkins as “a big man with a loud voice” while music industry executive David Munns said he was “an unstoppable creative powerhouse”.

Prior to his career in music he worked as a designer for Sir Terence Conran and Rodney Fitch, after attending the London College of Furniture.

He was part of the team that designed Heathrow Terminal Three and the London Stock Exchange.

Watkins later founded his own company, XL Design, creating record sleeves for artists including Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Duran Duran and Wham!

In 2016, Watkins released his autobiography, Let’s Make Lots of Money: Secrets Of A Rich, Fat, Gay, Lucky Bastard.

PA