Pioneering Italian promoter Francesco Sanavio dies
Francesco Sanavio, a pioneering promoter in the Italian music business, has passed away at the age of 81.
Sanavio battled a series of bacterial infections before he died in his hometown of Venice on 10 July 2023.
The longtime ILMC member started promoting concerts in 1971 and brought many artists to Italy for the first time including Pink Floyd (1971), Deep Purple (1971), Jethro Tull (1971), YES (1971), Donna Summer (1978) and Kiss (1980).
Among his many sold-out tours were Europe in 1987, Ray Charles in 1985 and Neil Young in 1982. In his later years, he was a publisher.
Sanavio died two months after his beloved wife Mara. He is survived by two daughters, Vanessa and Jennifer, and two nephews. Jennifer started working with her dad Sanavio a decade ago and is now keeping his legacy alive at Sanavio.
“Francesco was one of the founding fathers of the contemporary touring business in Italy, known by pretty much everyone”
“Francesco was one of the founding fathers of the contemporary touring business in Italy, known by pretty much everyone,” says CAA’s Emma Banks. “The list of artists that he worked with is second to none. I am so sorry to hear of his passing but know that his legacy is in the safe hands of his daughter, Jennifer Sanavio.”
Georg Leitner, Georg Leitner Productions GmbH, paid tribute to his colleague of 30-plus years: “Francesco and I worked together on various artists such as James Brown, Kool & the Gang, Earth Wind & Fire experience by Al McKay and Sister Sledge. We both shared a passion for our business as well as our independence. When we saw each other at Midem, ILMC and other music business events – as well as on the road – we always had a good laugh.
“Francesco was also a pioneer – long before the days of 360-degree models he founded a publishing company together with his friend Tony, which gave him an additional stream of income aside from the live side. It was great to see how Francesco introduced his wonderful daughter Jennifer to the business and to me and I am happy to see that she continues his legacy. I am thankful for the many years of friendship and cooperation – and will always remember his joyful spirit.”
“He was such a spirited man with a great personality”
Iain Hill, Live Nation, added: “Francesco was a real old-school promoter in many ways, but he was more than that with his solid and very active and prosperous business as one of Italy’s major independent music publishers. This gave him contact with the artists and he also prospered as a producer and artist liaison for music across all the major TV programs and platforms in Italy.
“I worked with him in this capacity as manager of Matt Bianco, Sarah Jane Morris and Kym Mazelle and no small measure of the success that these artists enjoyed in Italy is down to him. It was always fun and he had a real warmth and generosity and a great sense of humour, the industry is a greyer place without him. Rest in peace Francesco.”
Pyramid Entertainment Group’s Sal Michaels paid tribute: “I have been doing business with Francesco for 40 years. He was such a spirited man with a great personality. He promoted with Pyramid Entertainment group all of my artists such as Kool & The Gang, Sister Sledge, Village People and many others. He always lived up to his word and did the best he could for each of my artists. It was an honour to work beside him all these years. He introduced me to his lovely daughter Jennifer many years ago. And we still conduct business together. She is a great representative of Francesco Sanavio. May he rest in peace.”
“He was one of the great characters of the live music industry. Everyone knew him and he knew everyone”
David Shepherd paid tribute: “He was one of the great characters of the live music industry. Everyone knew him and he knew everyone. You would spot him a mile off with his white hair and bright red jumpers! It was always a pleasure to spend time with him. His daughter Jennifer is already following in his footsteps, with huge shoes to fill she is doing an amazing job that will keep the Sanavio name alive. He will be sorely missed and my thoughts are with Jennifer and her family.”
Kevin Moss, Marshall Arts, told IQ: “I had the pleasure of working with Francesco Sanavio for many many years. What a professional he was. With many events over the decades including Limahl & Samantha Fox on well organised events, TV shows. It was great to know when I was sending my artists over to Italy that Francesco Sanavio would take a great quality of care from arrival to return. He had a special eye for details and enjoyed this business with a pleasant sense of humour.”
“One of the last characters in Italy”
CAA’s Shaz Qureshi adds: “Always a warm welcome, a big smile and a glint in your eye. I will miss the countless stories of your escapades and will never forget the support, trust and generosity you showed me when I was starting out as a young agent. You introduced me to a popular Italian TV network with extremely deep pockets so all my tours had a solid and reliable anchor and either started or finished with you! Thank you for the very fond memories Francesco and may your star forever shine brightly.
ITB’s Barry Dickins remembers: “The first Italian promoter I dealt with was Francesco Sanavio which I have to say was an experience. Santana played Milan and some of the audience threw tins of coke to the band. I told the manager to get them off stage which he did immediately. The young Francesco came running backstage and was screaming why the band had come off stage halfway through their set and I said I was concerned about the band’s safety, I then got Francesco as only he could say that the cans were empty, if they did not enjoy the band the cans would have been full. Francesco was mainly a publisher in his later years and he also booked private dates and fashion shows for Dolce and Gabanna. One of the last characters in Italy.”
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