By SUE SIENS
Mike Slarve is living a life that compliments his love for music, especially rock and roll. Slarve is President of Four Seasons Coach Leasing, Inc. in Lebanon and owns one of the largest fleets of luxury entertainer coaches in the nation. His beautifully custom designed “hotels on wheels” provide transportation for many of the Who’s Who among top music entertainers from stage-to-stage destinations across the country. When you step into his office, you’ll see his passion for rock and roll music memorabilia, with poster art, framed albums, and CD’s from well-known rock bands lining the walls, and a few photos from his early days in the music business (with Ozzy Osbourne and others). You would never know he is friends with the music “elite” by his low key, down to earth style. What stories he can tell (some of which we couldn’t print) about the exploits and adventures of life on the road with music stars, especially during the wild and woolly 1980’s!
There’s the one about the rocker who performed his own version of the streak while on stage in Canada, and let’s just say the Canadian Mounties didn’t take too kindly to it, so he ran from the stage still in the buff and hid on top of the bus … yes, in the cold, in Canada… until the driver could get him safely back across the border! But Mike’s not naming names!
About 10 years ago, Slarve moved Four Seasons to Lebanon from California, but his amazing journey that eventually led him into the entertainment transportation industry started when he was child.
Mike was born into a musical family in Los Angeles, and grew up in the sixties era when rock and roll music had just taken off. Music was in his blood. His dad was a jazz musician and construction worker, and his family was full of classically trained musicians. While in high school, Mike was lead vocalist and harmonica player for a LA based rock band. Then he was called to serve in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. He was a skilled sharpshooter. Throughout his service time, he attended as many concerts as he could and helped set up music events on the military bases. It was this experience that encouraged Mike to follow his love for music and a career in the music business.
After his honorable discharge, he and a couple of friends gathered together $10,000 and began a music promotions company. He learned in the trenches and after a few years, major acts and contracts came his way. For the next decade, Mike’s company promoted hundreds of shows and major headliners, like The Faces, Deep Purple, Rod Stewart, Jethro Tull, Black Sabbath, Linda Rondstadt and Fleetwood Mac, just to name a few.
His skill in the music promotions industry then led to artist management, studio operations and rock and roll merchandise manufacturing. Mike worked as personal assistant to George A. Hormel II (of the Hormel meat family), who owned the Village Recorder Recording Studio and Village Producers, producing and recording up-and-coming rock bands and managing their concert tours. Their company needed a bus for a band’s impending tour, at a time when few buses were available.
Mike finally located a company from New Orleans with a small fleet of new buses. The owner and Mike struck a deal. Mike could use a bus for free during the tour, if he would open a West Coast office and help promote their buses with his music industry contacts. Little did Mike know that he was about to embark on a new dimension of his music- industry career, from band management to becoming a “bus guy”. After just a few calls, Mike had brokered tour deals with Duran Duran and Madonna. When he called the bus company owner back, and the owner asked, “How much do you want in commission?” .. that’s when the proverbial light bulb lit up, and Mike realized his future opportunity. Soon Slarve became a powerhouse in the entertainment transportation industry, as the largest bus broker for all kinds of tours.
A few years later, Mike bought his own fleet of buses, and Four Seasons Coach Leasing was born. His motto has been “Get them to the Gig”, safely and on time, and in more than 32 years in the industry and tens of thousands of shows, his buses have only missed two shows. It’s that reputation that has enabled Four Seasons to provide transportation for many of the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers and majority of major bands, and for top performers such as BB King, Dave Matthews Band, Alice Cooper, and Green Day. He also custom designed coaches for Maya Angelou, Joe Perry, U2, and many corporate clients like Coca-Cola and Gibson Guitar.