CEO – LuxJet Group
~ Shared by Randy J. Africano ~
I met Chip when he was 19 and I was 26. I was living in Peoria, IL when I got a knock on my apartment door. My downstairs neighbor said his son was part of a band out of Chicago, Pegr, and that his band was playing in Peoria for a couple of nights, could not afford a motel and could their manager and two of the guys stay at my place. I was leaving for the weekend with my girlfriend and you can only imagine the thoughts running through my head… my place was going to be trashed when I returned home. So I decided to wait and meet the band and their “manager,” Chip Hooper… and I will remember that moment for the rest of my life. Before me was a force of nature, a 19 year old kid that had just quit college because he loved the music business and he was going to be a part of it… period. He knew what he wanted and was laser focused on his goal but this steely determination was uncharacteristically packaged in a kind and gentle soul, albeit exuberant.
When we returned from our weekend away, my apartment looked better than it did when we left and there was a thank you card on my kitchen counter signed by Chip and the guys in the band with a bottle of Bailey’s next to it. I remember telling my girlfriend, now my wife, “I need to stay in contact with this guy cause he’s going places.” And going places turned out to be American Famous Talent in Chicago, Good Music Agency in Minneapolis, MPA in Carmel, and ultimately Paradigm.
Two years later, Chip called and needed to have a couple of Peoria attorneys flown to Chicago for a Styx concert. It may have been for business reasons or just Chip working his magic of which he was a master. That simple trip, like everything Chip touched, turned into a relationship and a 17 year engagement flying production people and occasionally artists for JAM Productions of Chicago.
As the years passed, we touched base about once every other year and our phone conversations were always lengthy, 90 minutes or longer and you knowing Chip, as busy as he always was, can appreciate the importance of that gesture. He always had time for a friend because you were important to him. We shared a mutual love of photography that I didn’t learn about until years after our initial meeting.
I specifically remember a conversation with him where we were discussing the underbelly of the music business and it was really weighing on him. I was telling him about a new venture I was starting and that my new company had to meet the following criteria… good for me, good for the employees and good for the community; a win win win situation and he said, “Well that’s where our business differs because only WE win in this business. It’s sickening, it doesn’t reflect my values and I am going to see that it changes.” He was monolithic when it came to principles
As fate would have it, I hadn’t spoken with Chip for about 2 years when I ran into an associate of his, Ron Kaplan, here in Chicago only to learn he had suffered a stroke. I contacted Laura Hooper and Heather McSwiggin at Paradigm to come out to see him when he returned from his favorite place Sea Ranch. Sadly, he never made it and I never got the chance to say goodbye to my friend.
We lost an exceptional human being…