Former Duran Duran, Blur tour manager Craig Duffy passes
Tributes are pouring in for former Blur and Duran Duran manager Craig Duffy and his partner Sue Parmiter, who died in a car crash on Friday (21 May) in the UK.
Their deaths were confirmed on Saturday (22 May) by Duran Duran’s former publicist Gerard Franklin, who told Devon Live: “Craig was without question one of the best tour managers in the music business.
“He was a gentleman, caring and considerate and the ultimate professional. He was great fun to be around with on tour a real joy. He was incredibly helpful to all the crew and people working on his tours and was liked by everyone. He was a music fan first and a tour manager second.”
Franklin continued: “He lived for his music and football being a Chelsea supporter. He was a giant of the music industry. It’s rare to find such characters who are genuine and Craig was the real deal, a real gem.”
The father of two, who was undergoing treatment for throat cancer, worked on numerous tours since the early 1990s for the likes of Blur, Duran Duran, Gorillaz, Fugees, Franz Ferdinand, Lily Allen, Radiohead, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Madness and U2.
Duran Duran bassist John Taylor paid tribute to Duffy on the band’s official website: “It is with great sadness we learnt today of the tragic passing of Craig Duffy: friend, music man and one of the great tour managers of all time.
“Craig Duffy: friend, music man and one of the great tour managers of all time”
“Craig and I spent many touring hours trawling used vinyl bins around the world. There was no better record shopping associate than Craig, and if you know me, you’ll know there is no better testament to a friendship than that.”
He added: “I will really miss you, you fucker. I hope for your sake they play The Clash in heaven.”
The band’s keyboardist Nick Rhodes said: “We are all heartbroken to hear the shocking news that Craig Duffy and his partner Sue Parmiter have died in a car accident.
“Craig was a larger than life character and a joy to be around. He once won the accolade of tour manager of the year at an industry event, so for us he was always ‘Craig Duffy, tour manager of the year’.
“Despite our jest, Craig lived up to his title, he was kind, calm and knew how to steer the ship. We spent a longtime together on tour and we will forever treasure those memories, he remained a punk rocker at heart with a massive sense of humour, he will be greatly missed. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”
Blur’s Dave Rowntree wrote: “Have spent the day trying to come to terms with the fact that my friend Craig is no longer with us. My heart goes out to his family.”
“A huge chunk of history has disappeared with his passing”
Right Said Fred tweeted: “Extremely shocked and saddened to hear that Craig Duffy and his partner Sue died in a car crash yesterday.
“Craig was our tour manager in the 90s, we rarely agreed on anything but we had stayed in touch and remained friends. He was a good guy and an excellent TM. Rest in peace.”
The Damned took to Facebook to share a tribute. “I first met Craig around 1976 when he was just a kid working for John Curd,” they wrote. “He was and remained enthused with music, always had a smile and an anecdote to share.
“Over the years he became a very deserved top of the league tour manager who, on and off, we worked with as indeed he seemed to have worked with so many artists from all genres of music in a long and successful career. A huge chunk of history has disappeared with his passing and he will be missed by many.”
They added: “My deepest sympathies go out to his family at this most tragic time.”
The Pogues wrote on social media: “RIP Craig Duffy. We tried to get you for so many reunion tours, you were always, always busy! Condolences everybody. Love, The Pogues.”
British singer-songwriter Nadine Shah tweeted: “Sending condolences to all the friends and loved ones of Craig Duffy and his partner Sue Parmiter. He was a lovely man and tm extraordinaire.”
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Ken Watts, tour director and “fearless leader”, passes
Ken Watts, a much-loved tour director for the likes of George Michael, Duran Duran, Natalie Imbruglia, Bond, Blues Brothers, Jamiroquai and Duran Duran, passed away suddenly over the weekend.
Colleagues, friends and artists have paid tribute to the late tour director, who worked on the very first Wham! tour in 1983, as well as with artists such as Michael Flatley, Spandau Ballet and Susan Boyle.
Dennis Gardner, production manager for British singer-songwriter Cat Stevens, wrote in a Facebook post: “It is with much sadness, this weekend I received news of the passing of my mentor, my friend, my brother and fearless leader Ken Watts. He was (and will remain) an industry legend and a personal hero of mine. I have learnt and continue to learn from Ken and the way he approached everything he did with heart, a heavy dose of common sense and, as ever, a wonderful sense of humour. Simply put, Ken taught me nearly everything.
“Everything he did was with heart, a heavy dose of common sense and a wonderful sense of humour”
“I’m still expecting my phone to ring, to hear his voice and discuss everything under the sun from work to his love for his family and how proud he was of his children. I have been with Ken from the late ’80s as a lighting man, through the various GM tours, and being Ken’s Production Manager, for many years. Over the years, we have laughed and commiserated over many bottles of red wine, had sleepless nights, argued, disagreed, but also foremost, been friends and trusted comrades, if not family.
“Our work and my world will not feel the same without his attention to detail, high standards and wisdom. He always had time for his crew, not just the close ones, but everyone, and made sure they were always respected, cared for and felt like they belonged. We are also family and he has been so much more than a Tour Manager to his touring family.”
“One of the industries mega personalities who will be greatly missed”
Veteran production manager and Touring Production Group founder Wob Roberts commented: “One of the industries mega personalities who will be greatly missed.”
Violinist Haylie Ecker told Slipped Disc: “My heart goes out to this legend’s tour family and loved ones at home. He was a force of calm with a mischievous sense of humour, who always made us laugh when we needed to most, living selflessly behind the scenes, paving the roads for us to smoothly travel.
“No problem was ever too large to overcome. He made our sound, and in our ever-changing world, he also made us a bubble of safety, luxuriously so. Ever there to hold our hand as we sweatily stumbled off stage, ‘Don’t do a Laura Ashley’, he’d say…. May someone be there to hold your hand as you ascend the stairway to heaven, Ken Master.”
“He was a force of calm with a mischievous sense of humour”
Neg Earth Lights, a leading independent entertainment lighting hire company, wrote on Facebook: “The shock with which we learnt of the loss of Ken Watts, who passed away suddenly over the weekend, has given way to deep sadness and heartache; an industry giant, and friend of Neg Earth Lights for decades, we will miss him greatly and hold his family, friends and colleagues in our thoughts.”
“What a terrible loss. Ken Watts was a genuine talent and inspirational leader to many. A Wonderful Man,” one Facebook user wrote.
Another added: “What a fantastic man, he will be greatly missed by many.”
“A true friend and one with whom you could always pick up where you left off after a long absence. A truly huge loss to the entertainment industry,” read one tribute.
“Huge loss, such a lovely and respected man that taught so much to so many,” read another.
Watts’ family has requested that those who would like to pay tribute to Ken do so by making a small donation to Stagehand’s Covid-19 Crew Relief Fund here.
ShowTime Budapest’s Márton Brády passes aged 54
Concert organiser Márton Brády, the founder and leader of ShowTime Budapest and Ticket Express, died of coronavirus complications on Saturday, March 20, at the age of 54.
Born in 1966, Brády began his career working for smaller companies as an organiser of international concerts. In 1994, he founded international concert agency ShowTime Budapest with Austrian partners, and debuted with the Rolling Stones’ first ever show in Hungary in 1995, held at Népstadion.
Márton also founded Ticket Express agency in the mid-1990s, becoming one of the leaders of the Hungarian cultural ticket sale market.
A long-time ILMC member, Brády’s company has promoted hundreds of international acts and more than 1,000 concerts with Hungarian performers since the mid-1990s.
ShowTime has brought to Hungary Bon Jovi, Eric Clapton, Mike Oldfield, Eros Ramazzotti, Leonard Cohen, Pink, REM, Elton John, Simply Red, Deep Purple, Lionel Richie, Jamiroquai, Rod Stewart, Santana and David Copperfield, among others.
ShowTime debuted with the Rolling Stones’ first ever show in Hungary in 1995
The company has organised major concerts by such legendary Hungarian bands as the LGT Arena performances in 2013, and previously the performances of Piramis, the Hobo Blues Band, Zorán, Charlie and Tátrai Band.
Sony bought a stake in the company in 2010, before Brády bought it back in 2013, and since then he had been the sole owner of ShowTime Budapest.
Ticket Express operated as part of ShowTime until 2000, then became a member of CTS Eventim group. In addition to the domestic market, it is also present in the neighbouring countries. Ticket Express was also the first to launch an online ticket office in Hungary.
The team at ShowTime Budapest, which has been working together for 25 years, will continue the work that Brády started, although they say he is greatly missed.
Alex Nussbaumer, who had worked with Brády in the past, says: He was a good soul and big music lover. RIP, my friend.”
Eat to the Beat founder Tony Laurenson passes
Tony Laurenson, founder and CEO of global catering group Global Infusion Group (GIG) and its well-known subsidiary Eat to the Beat, passed away last Tuesday (19 January).
Laurenson spent over four decades in the catering industry and cultural catering company Eat to the Beat (founded in 1983) became a forerunner in the business.
The company has provided catering for tours, festivals, TV and film – with clients including Alicia Keys, Iron Maiden, Coldplay, Download, V Festival – and later became the foundation of GIG (founded in 1981 by Laurenson), which also operates e2b and Bonnie May Food & Events.
“Tony was so passionate about the industry and was ‘everybody’s mate’… you’d often see him rolling his sleeves up to help”
The news of Laurenson’s death was announced on the GIG Facebook page: “It is with tremendous sadness that we announce that Tony Laurenson, our founder, and CEO passed away, at home, suddenly yesterday (19th January 2021). We are all in complete shock. Our thoughts are with Bonnie, Matt, Will, Tom and Harriet and all of Tony’s family.”
Andy Hudson, who worked with Laurenson in the early days of e2b, wrote: “This sparkling man was an asset to all of us who knew him. Professionally, he and his team were the ultimate caterers – to the stars and equally to the road and technical crew that kept the show on the road. His bonhomie and reliability and much of his homely wisdom will be engrained in me for the remainder of my life.”
“Tony was one of the true characters of the touring industry with his big smile and love of a good time”
Brian McCarthy, club president of Chesham United FC, where Laurenson once held the role of hospitality director, wrote: “I was fortunate enough to work with Tony when he was a director of the club. He brought so many new ideas to the table and gave myself and the board energy and belief that we can broaden the appeal of the club within our community.
“Tony understood the role that football can play in people’s lives and was inspirational in helping us to make new contacts and develop new ideas that are still key to the way the club operates today. Tony will be sorely missed, but his memory will live long with those that had the pleasure of knowing him.“
Musician Stuart Uren paid tribute: “So sad to hear about the passing of Tony Laurenson! A lovely, kind and ever-cheerful chap, I was fortunate to work and travel with on various tours in the 80s. . . Full breakfast please Tone.”
Thank you so much O2 Academy Brixton this is a wonderful tribute. We know that Tony loved the venue, it was definitely one of his favourites!
Ex-business partner, Neil Armishaw, wrote: “Tony was a one of a kind who many will have seen at events, festivals etc catering backstage with his company, Eat to the Beat. Tony was so passionate about the industry and was ‘everybody’s mate’… you’d often see him rolling his sleeves up and jumping in to help.”
Australia-based roadie, Paul Streaky Hawkes, says: “Tony was one of the true characters of the touring industry with his big smile and love of a good time. He and his legion of caterers kept us well fed on many tours through Europe over the last 30 odd years… he will be sadly missed by many.”
Laurenson is survived by Bonnie, Matt, Will, Tom and Harriet.
They ask for donations (“not carnations”) to be made to Stagehand, the PSA’s benevolent fund, in his name: click here for the JustGiving page, which has raised over £10,000 at press time.
Legendary agent Dick Alen passes aged 89
Dick Alen, a legendary agent who spent 39 years at what was formerly WME, has passed of natural causes aged 89 according to Variety.
Alen spent more than 60 years as an agent, representing musical icons including Aretha Franklin, Chuck Berry and Little Richard, before retiring in 2010.
The last 39 years of his career was spent at the earlier incarnation of WME, where he became senior VP and had a five-year stint as head of the agency’s music division. Alen moved to the Beverly Hills office in 1971 and also helped open the agency’s London office.
Alen was credited with bringing more country, Latin and Contemporary Christian artists to the company such as Charlie Rich and the Oak Ridge Boys as well as Williams, and into CCM with Sandi Patty.
Over the years, Alen also represented Ray Charles, James Brown, Rod Stewart, Hank Williams Jr., Tom Jones, Fats Domino, Cheech & Chong, Barry White and Juanes.
“I’ve dealt with some wonderful artists and hey, it’s just been a great run”
His early triumphs included signing Berry in the early 50s when he was still on Chess Records. He continued to represent Berry for more than 50 years and was an honorary pallbearer at his funeral in 2017 – something he also did for Franklin when she died the following year.
Alen started his career in the late 40s with a small agency run by Roy Gerber (who went on to book TV’s most popular variety shows) and Norman Weiss (who later worked with the Beatles), then in 1952 moved to Shaw Artists, working with jazz and R&B artists including Domino, Charles, the Clovers and the Orioles.
He took a break from the agency world to do a stretch as Woody Herman’s road manager before joining Universal Attractions, where he represented Solomon Burke, Joe Tex, Johnny Taylor as well as Berry and Little Richard. At Universal, he worked to establish an audience and market in Europe for African American R&B and jazz musicians. He and Jack Bart eventually bought out Universal Attractions.
Alen was also instrumental in setting up the bookings that had the Rolling Stones opening for Berry and the Beatles doing the same for their idol Little Richard.
In an interview with Billboard earlier this year, Alen said: “When I’m asked about my career, my answer is that I thank my lucky stars for it. I’m old and a little shaky, but still upright. I’ve dealt with some wonderful artists and hey, it’s just been a great run.”
UK CAA agent Ben Kouijzer passes aged 36
Ben Kouijzer, an agent for CAA UK and formerly UTA who represented electronic acts including 808 State and Meduza, has passed aged 36 of kidney and liver failure.
Kouijzer was diagnosed last summer with malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumour (MPNST), a rare and aggressive type of cancer, for which he underwent surgery and radiotherapy.
The cancer later metastasised to Kouijzer’s lungs, which doctors said was incurable.
Kouijzer and his fiancé, Lotte Bowser, moved to Tijuana, Mexico in September for treatment, and Kouijzer tested positive for Covid in late October. He also battled pneumonia, influenza, sepsis and other infections while in intensive care.
His passing was announced on Sunday via his Go Fund Me page, which had been created to draw donations for his treatments. At the time of writing, the campaign has raised over £250,000.
“It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Ben. He fought so hard and we are so so proud of him but in the end it was too much for him. A combination of factors lead to kidney and liver failure and he passed away in the early hours of Sunday morning. We are beyond devastated. We are all hurting together,” the announcement reads.
Emma Banks, co-head of CAA’s London office, issued the following statement to Variety: “Today is such a sad day for everyone at CAA and particularly those who worked closely with Ben in the music department. It’s a testament to the man that while he had only been working with us for a couple of years, we are mourning a lifelong friend. Everyone who encountered Ben immediately loved him – he was a fantastic agent but more than that, he was simply a great human being.
“It’s a testament to the man that while he had only been working with us for a couple of years, we are mourning a lifelong friend”
“He was so brave tackling his cancer and with his beloved fiancée Lotte by his side he was determined to try every possible option to beat the disease. Ben is an inspiration to us all. He may be gone but he will never be forgotten and his spirit, soul and the love that he shared will remain with us forever. We send all of our love and condolences to Lotte and to Ben’s family and friends.”
Tributes have been pouring in from across the live music industry, with Kouijzer’s client, Meduza, writing: “Throughout the last 2 years you have been inspirational for us. We had so much more to do together, so many more fun times to share, so many more plans to implement and enjoy together, you made our teams craziest dreams come true in such a short period of time.
“From the moment we met you, we knew what our team were telling us about you was true. A truly magical human being, full of love and not a bad word about you from anyone. We were proud to have you in our corner.”
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DJ and producer Roger Sanchez tweeted: “Ben Kouijzer was not only the best agent I have ever worked with, he was one of the kindest, honest and universally loved person I know. A true warrior – from the dojo to the agency, to the way he faced cancer, he always gave 100% and never backed down. Ben, we will miss your presence on this planet tremendously but we will love you and remember you forever. In the words of the 100: Your fight is over Ben-Com-Skai Kru. May we meet again.”
Elsewhere in the electronic community, SG Lewis tweeted: “Heartbreaking news about Ben Kouijzer. One of the nicest guys in music, and loved by so many. RIP Ben.”
While DJ Got Some wrote: “Gutted to hear about Ben Kouijzer passing away. I want to send my regards to his family & GF. This guy was a proper stand up dude.”
Kouijzer is survived by his fiancé, Lotte Bowser, who wrote: “You had suffered so much these past 7 months, and you were too tired to go on. Fly high and return home to peace now my love.”
Eddie Van Halen: ‘The Mozart of rock guitar’ dies at 65
Eddie Van Halen, the revered guitarist and co-founder of rock band Van Halen, has died at the age of 65.
The Dutch-American musician died yesterday (6 October) from throat cancer, for which he had been receiving treatment.
Eddie was well known for popularising the tapping guitar solo technique and was voted number one in a Guitar World magazine reader’s poll for The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.
The musician co-founded the American rock band, Van Halen, in 1972 with his brother, drummer Alex Van Halen, bassist Mark Stone, and singer David Lee Roth.
Their four-decade career included a US number one hit with the song ‘Jump’ in 1984 and saw them earn 20th place on the RIAA list of best-selling artists in the US, having sold 56 million albums in the states.
According to Pollstar‘s archives, the band’s grosses since the early 1980s total over US$324.3 million from 8.6 million sold tickets at headlining performances worldwide.
In the past two decades, Van Halen’s top-grossing performance was a two-show run at Madison Square Garden in New York City on 28 February and 1 March 2012 with $3.46 million in sales from 29,170 tickets.
Eddie’s last Van Halen concert was a hometown gig on 4 Oct 2015, the second of two nights at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. It was almost exactly five years to the day of the icon’s death.
“What a talent – what a legacy – probably the most original and dazzling rock guitarist in history”
He is survived by his son Wolfgang Van Halen, who became Van Halen’s bassist in 2006.
Wolfgang paid tribute to his father on Instagram, writing: “He was the best father I could ever ask for. Every moment I’ve shared with him on and off stage was a gift. My heart is broken and I don’t think I’ll ever fully recover from this loss.”
While Val Halen’s longtime frontman David Lee Roth wrote: “What a great, long trip it’s been.”
Sammy Hagar, who replaced Roth as Van Halen frontman when he split from the band in 1984, shared a picture of himself alongside Van Halen, with the caption: “Heartbroken and speechless. My love to the family.”
Queen guitarist Brian May wrote on Instagram: “This wonderful man was way too young to be taken. What a talent – what a legacy – probably the most original and dazzling rock guitarist in history.”
Pete Townshend from The Who tweeted: “A man in his rightful place, so happy to be doing what he did.”
Mötley Crüe’s Nikki Sixx wrote: “You changed our world. You were the Mozart of rock guitar. Travel safe rockstar.”
Live Nation wrote: “Rest in Peace to a true titan of rock and one of the greatest guitarist of all time who led Van Halen across stages all over the world. Eddie Van Halen’s influence on the industry is undeniable and he will be missed.”
Former Royal Albert Hall CEO Patrick Deuchar dies
Patrick Deuchar, former chief executive of London’s Royal Albert Hall (RAH), passed away on 10 September, aged 71.
Deuchar completed an eight-year stint as CEO at the RAH (cap. 5,272), which he enthusiastically promoted as “the nation’s village hall”.
When he assumed the role of CEO in 1989, one of Deuchar’s first decisions was to drop the ban on pop concerts that had been imposed in March 1972 after only one of 23 gigs the previous year had passed off without disorder.
From there, the CEO expanded the venue’s programming from the Proms to rock bands, Sumo wrestlers, arena opera, tennis tournaments, and meet-and-greets.
Under his management, the RAH also co-produced ballet Swan Lake and the Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil.
One of Deuchar’s first decisions was to drop the ban on pop concerts that had been imposed
But perhaps his most notable move as CEO was securing £40 million in National Lottery funding to give the venue a necessary facelift.
The new funding allowed the venue to open additional restaurants, bars, shops and lavatories; build new loading areas and backstage facilities; upgrade the auditorium seating, and transform the “death-defying” racetrack around the hall into a pedestrian piazza.
The construction work had barely begun when Deuchar resigned in 1997 because of ill health, and former director of finance and administration David Elliott was left to oversee the transformation.
Raymond Gubbay, a concert promoter who presented 50 shows a year at the RAH, said of his resignation: “I am deeply sad that he is going. Patrick has done an incredible job in revitalising the Hall.”
Deuchar subsequently took up a series of short-lived executive positions and was spoken of as a potential chief executive of the V & A, but instead retired to Devon.
Deuchar is survived by his wife Liz Robertson, an actress and singer, along with their daughter, and a son and a daughter from his first marriage to Gwyneth Miles.