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Hall of Fame welcomes local manager
Forsyth County resident Charlie Brusco was recently inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame for his work managing various rock 'n' roll musicians over the years. - photo by Autumn McBride

Charlie Brusco may have one of the coolest jobs in the world. He works for rock stars.

And recently, he was recognized as one of the best at it.

The Georgia Music Hall of Fame inducted Brusco, a Forsyth County resident, for his achievements as a non-performer on Sept. 11.

"You don't think of what you're doing as being your career and your legacy, " Brusco said. " ... Then you sit back and start thinking about all the stuff that's gone on."

In the last three decades, he's managed some of the top names in rock 'n' roll, including current client Styx, as well as Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Outlaws and Bad Company.

He's also had a hand in the careers of "American Idol" contestants Bo Bice and Ace Young, whom he still manages, and promoted shows or tours for Janet Jackson, Keith Richards, Sting and KISS.

It doesn't matter how big or small his dealings with any artists, he said he's stayed friends with nearly all of them.

His friend Jon, who most of us know as Jon Bon Jovi, couldn't be at the hall of fame ceremony, so he videotaped a congratulatory message from a backstage bathroom in Paris.

Brusco remembers details of all the shows he's handled, and can tell fantastic stories about each one.

He knows his bands well. Take, for example, that Styx must have either its Styx-blend coffee or a Starbucks in or near each hotel.

He must manage the artists even better to have been inducted into the hall of fame for his life's work.

Brusco said he was quite emotional when he got the call that he would be a member of an elite group in the music world.

"I'm still emotional when I think about it," he said. "I'm in a group with Otis Redding, Duane Allman, Phil Walden and Alex Cooley, people that I grew up doing business with."

Though his track record of bands and artists he's worked with touches all types of music, Brusco said his heart is in rock 'n' roll.

He was a fan of several bands he ended up managing before he ever met them, like Lynyrd Skynyrd and Bad Company.

Wife Cindy's love of Styx led him to his successful, ongoing partnership of 15 years with the band.

The group will do its last show of the year on Nov. 13 at the same place Brusco received his hall of fame induction.

Styx played two songs in his honor at the ceremony at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre on Sept. 11, a meaningful day for Brusco and the band.

After the 9/11 attacks, Styx and Brusco formed their nonprofit, Rock to the Rescue, which has raised more than $500,000 for the Port Authority Police Department.

Brusco and his southern Forsyth management company often get involved in charity work, using fame power for good.

"There's autographed guitars and records going out of here all the time," he said.

Locally, Brusco has played a role in the Concert in the Quarry event for the past two years.

This year, he lent organizers the use of the nonprofit Rock to the Rescue to facilitate the event's goal to raise money for county high school music programs.

Glenn Kruse, an organizer of the concert, wanted to honor Brusco for his local work during the event Saturday.

"Charlie's managed some really big name rock bands over the years. The fact that he wanted to help us out in an event like we're doing ... it's sort of humbling," Kruse said. "Charlie's willing to take some time to pull this together for high school kids."

Brusco has supported the local marching bands behind the scenes as well, Kruse said.

While watching a South Forsyth High School football game some years ago with his stepson, Brusco grabbed his cell phone once the band started to play "Come Sail Away."

He called Styx on the phone so they could hear the adaption of their hit song.

"It's kind of cool when you find out that musicians are enjoying your music," Kruse said.

He said Brusco has expressed interest in helping bring in musical acts for future quarry concerts.

To show his appreciation, Kruse recommended that the Forsyth County commissioners honor the longtime county resident's accomplishment in a resolution, which was approved Thursday.

Brusco grew up in Pittsburgh but has called Georgia home since 1976.

Though her husband wasn't raised in the South, Cindy Brusco joked that between managing The Outlaws and Skynyrd, he's gotten "as redneck as you can get."

"They kind of put the stamp of the South on me," he added.

Brusco and his wife, a Forsyth native, have been together for 20 years, leading to their move to the county.

He also operates his management company from an office in south Forsyth, where many of his family members -- including his wife, sister and stepson -- also work.

The couple's two dogs, Baxter and Bailey, follow them to the office too.

Brusco's family is a big part of his life, as was evident in his speech at the hall of fame induction ceremony.

He said after the event that his goal was to win the award, which he had been nominated for once before, so that his mother could see him accept it.

In the speech, he joked that his mother wanted him to pursue a career in law, but hoped this honor would make her proud.

With his mother cheering him on that night, Brusco didn't need to hear Styx singing to remind him that these are "the best of times."