P E T E R S H U K A T
Illustrations by Suzko
Peter was a father, husband, grandfather, friend, attorney, trusted advisor, baseball fan, human GPS and a 'New York mensch’.
American entertainment lawyer and music industry giant Peter Shukat was the founding partner of New York based law firm Shukat Arrow Hafer Weber & Herbsman. Peter managed the affairs of some of the biggest estates in popular music including John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis and Bob Marley. He also represented artists such as Yoko Ono, and Katrina and The Waves and corporations such as Apple Corps Ltd.
Sadly he passed away in June this year after a long battle with cancer, he was 69. The Manifesto takes this opportunity to remember Peter, through the eyes of those who truly knew and loved him.
Michael Glick, Peter’s Son and Restauranteur
He was my dad, my business partner and my lawyer. When I was 29, I decided I wanted to open up my own business. He was so excited and supportive, he did the deal for us and we opened up our own bar. On that first day when we went in to start cleaning up the place, Peter was right there, putting stuff in garbage bags and helping clean up the place. Like many other days over the years, he would say “Put me to work. I want to go to work. Where do we start?”
Janie Hendrix, CEO – Jimi Hendrix Estate
We hired him as our attorney and then he did our record deal. Peter knew how to close a deal and he cared about us; he was our attorney for twenty years. He would always explain to us, 'We are going to get you these things, but it’s important for the other guy to feel like he got a good deal too. You need to know your deal breakers, and then you stick with them.' He taught me the art of negotiation. There’s a big void in New York now that Peter has passed.
Justin Shukat, Peter’s Son, Partner – Primary Wave Music
Peter was also very predictable, whether it was ordering food at any one of his favorites restaurants (usually chicken parm & ice tea) or the clothes he wore (Lacoste shirts and baseball hats) or his purple pens – he has been using them for as long as I can remember. The man loved to collect things: Monopoly sets, perfume bottles for Yvette, hats, radios, snow globes and key chains for all the kids from every corner of the globe from just about every trip he has taken.
Jonas Herbsman, Partner – Shukat, Arrow, Hafer, Weber & Herbsman
When you want to go into an entertainment firm, the view is you are so lucky to be working here, 'you should pay us'. In typical Peter fashion, a local publication called Cranes Business, which is the main publication for business in New York, did an article on the firm. Peter gave a quote where he discussed the fact that people want to work in entertainment so badly that they are willing to take substantial pay cuts – such as (me) his new associate who took more than a 50% pay cut to come work for him!
I got so mad and I said to Peter – “why did you do that?” And he said – “Well it’s true isn’t it?”
Alex Cooper, Katrina and The Waves
Peter had a legion of children and grandchildren. When his grandchildren were away in summer camp, he would send them postcards. He had asked my wife and I, whenever we went abroad, to pick up a handful of postcards and send them back to him in New York. We would be in Europe, or Thailand or the Maldives, in lots of places over the years, and we would post a handful of these cards back to Peter in New York. He was a thoughtful man.
Merril Wasserman, EVP Business Development at Kobalt
We worked together on the Hendrix estate when I was at Sony ATV. I’ve known him for a really long time because we are both in the business a long time and we genuinely liked each other. He was my favourite attorney to do business with. He was warm and bright and a family man and loved what he did… but professionally he could also be very difficult. By that I mean in the negotiation way and as a lawyer. He was fiercely protective of his clients; sometimes he was so frustrating! But I loved Peter so much.
He called me “The Snitch”! So I would call Peter’s office and say – “Tell Peter The Snitch is on the phone!” . The last time we spoke on the phone he said – “Tell Merril her favourite lawyer is on the phone”. I’m actually married to a lawyer, but once i got the message from my assistant, I knew immediately who it was – “Well hello Peter!”
Eddie Kramer, Recording Engineer
Peter was an incredibly tough negotiator. He had a great philosophy on how to survive in this business because it’s a jungle. He knew how to get a deal done, because he knew that it was important for both sides to walk away feeling like they got a good deal. Each side could hold their head high; that’s important. There are probably only half a dozen music attorneys in New York City that are of that ilk. There is a wonderful yiddish word called “Mensch”, it means a man of honour. Peter was a mensch.
Larry Mestel, CEO – Primary Wave Music
Peter was the easiest attorney to do business with not because he was an easy businessman, far from it. He was very tough but because Peter was so fair as an individual he knew that in order to get a deal done it had to be transparent. Being tough, or thinking you are being tough, does not always equate to doing the right thing by your client.
Jeff Jones, Friend
I met Peter when I joined Legacy and Peter was the attorney for the Miles Davis family estate. Smart and brash and honest and he really cared about his clients. A large presence, he was a total New Yorker. My wife Susan tells a great story from when she was an A&R. She was in a meeting and said to Peter, “Well what do you think of the song?” Peter said, “You’re the A&R – You tell ME what the song is like. I’m here to make a deal.”
Josh Glick, Peter’s Son and Real Estate Professional
Peter had a big heart, especially for his family and his clients. I was fortunate enough to see him in both roles. He was a new father figure when I was in my teens (he already had two children, Justin and Jen) but he treated my brother and I like his sons from Day One. We could call him for anything be it help, advice, to have him teach us how to drive or get directions, or whatever it was. He never introduced me as his step-son. It was always, this is my son, Josh Glick.
Geoff Kempin, Executive Director – Eagle Rock Entertainment
Peter was able to weave through the complex set of emotions from all parties in a negotiation in order to get a deal done. He had an empathy with the business at large, but also with artists and people. He could also be very tough but if he felt that you were genuine in wanting to make a fair deal, he would make it possible for it to be a fair deal. I’ve been in the business for 30 years and he’s the only one I’ve ever witnessed with his unique set of qualities.
I met Peter just after John’s death. Since then he has been a protector to Sean and me. We remember him dearly.
* Special thanks to Yvette Shukat and Justin Shukat, for inviting The Manifesto into your world at this difficult time.