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‘Israel’s first promoter’ Shmuel Zemach passes away

Shmuel Zemach, who promoted shows by Elton John, Frank Sinatra and Guns N' Roses in the Middle Eastern nation, has passed away aged 85

By Jon Chapple on 16 Oct 2017

Shmuel Zemach, Marek Lieberberg

Zemach (left) pictured with his friend Marek Lieberberg

Pioneering concert promoter Shmuel Zemach, whose Zemach Productions company promoted some of the first Israeli shows by Elton John, Frank Sinatra, Metallica, Eric Clapton, Leonard Cohen, Simon & Garfunkel, Guns N’ Roses and Aerosmith, has passed away aged 85.

The news was announced yesterday by his son and business partner, Yoav, who pays tribute to “my father, my beloved and my best friend” and the “first promoter in Israel”.

Zemach was born and raised in Petach Tikvah and started his live career at the age of 12, organising events for local youth groups in his hometown. He honed his craft in the US before returning to Israel, establishing Zemach Productions with Yoav and his wife, Dr Brach Zemach. At the time of his death, he was president of the Israeli concert promoters’ association.

“Shmuel Zemach was a unique, charismatic and inspiring person”

Despite suffering a stroke two years ago, Zemach continued to be active in the business, promoting his final show – Cliff Richard in Tel Aviv – just last week. He was close friends with many in the entertainment industry, including Marek Lieberberg, Harvey Goldsmith CBE and actor Ian McKellen.

“Shmuel Zemach was a unique, charismatic and inspiring person,” Lieberberg tells IQ. “He proved to be an outstanding promoter in a very difficult market, which he put on the map with great professionalism. As an ambassador of Israel he shaped the the modern culture of his country and at the same time brought many local talents to the world. Shmuel taught artists and friends alike to see and appreciate Israel through his eyes.

“His fascinating personality and wit helped to master many challenging moments. Shmuel Zemach was and will always remain the impresario per se, which is becoming extremely rare in a world of music industry technocrats.”

“Zemach was a pioneer and loved by everyone”

Goldsmith adds: “I first met Shmuel Zemach in 1979 when I persuaded him to promote a concert with Elton John in Tel Aviv. This was one of the first rock concerts in Israel and paved the way for many of the world’s great artists to take their music to Israel.

“This started a working relationship, but above all a close friendship, with Zemach and his family that has lasted.

“Zemach was a pioneer and loved by everyone. He was a charismatic teacher and was joined in the business by both his son and daughter, who will continue his legacy. He will be sorely missed.”

In a short video message, McKellen says his “heart is with” Zemach’s “loving family”:


Zemach is survived by Brachi, their three children, Yoav, Tali and Hila, and ten grandchildren.


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