John Kalinowski was born at Rochford, Essex, on 2 May 1946, the son of Grace Price and Jan Kalinowski, a Polish airman. His early childhood was spent with his parents and sister in the Argentine capital Buenos Aires, where his father died in 1950. The family then returned to Essex, where John attended Southchurch Hall High School, acquiring the nickname “Kelloggs” from fellow pupils who struggled to pronounce his surname.
At local coffee bars he met Gary Brooker and the other musicians who formed the rhythm and blues outfit The Paramounts, and in 1963 became the group’s roadie — a job that involved not only moving equipment but also balancing sound, booking venues, arranging sustenance and accommodation, dealing with unscrupulous concert hall operators, driving the band’s cramped van around the UK gig circuit and nursing fragile egos.
Kalinowski then joined the “Mad Dogs & Englishmen” tour of America by the Sheffield blues/soul singer Joe Cocker and his retinue of 30-plus musicians and hangers-on.
By the mid-1970s Kalinowski was back in Britain, reunited with Procol Harum and also managing tours for The Kinks and the British-American rock band Foreigner. His sense of humour and calmness under pressure attracted the new wave Stiff Records, which hired him to look after their performers’ live schedules .
In 1979 Stiff signed Madness, who were an immediate success. During Kalinowski’s five-year stewardship, the group made five Top 10 albums and nearly 20 Top 20 singles, including the 1982 No 1 House Of Fun. The band’s singer Suggs (Graham McPherson) recalled: “We were a bunch of wild kids going through a frenetic series of changes, and [Kalinowski] was a proper old hippie with deep rock and roll experience. On paper it shouldn’t have worked, but it turned out to be a great combination because we respected him and he was tolerant enough to let us get on with it.” Kalinowski remained with the group for five years.
In the mid-Eighties Kalinowski established Fezborough, one of the first companies to exploit the growing appetite for music-branded merchandising, particularly band T-shirts. He continued to work with musicians, including Van Morrison.
Kalinowski returned as manager of (the re-formed) Procol Harum in the 1990s, and went on to handle the singer-songwriter Nick Lowe’s international touring schedule. Away from his work, the Francophile Kalinowski enjoyed gardening and nurturing farm animals at his house near Gaillac in the Tarn region of France and at his home in Cleveley, Oxfordshire.
John Kalinowski married, in 1974 (dissolved 1985), Liz Clarke. When he married his second wife, Ann Mansbridge, in 2000, he arrived at the ceremony on horseback wearing a three-piece mohair suit made by the Soho tailor Mr Eddie.
He is survived by his second wife and a stepson, and by a son and daughter of his first marriage.
John Kalinowski, born 2 May 1946, died 25 February 2013