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Popular tour manager Dee Mc Loughlin passes

Dee Mc Loughlin, who worked with the likes of MCP Promotions, ITB and SJM, and had long associations with Simply Red, Sisters of Mercy, Marillion, Neil Young, The Chemical Brothers, Scorpions and, most notably, Crowded House, has died.

Born Derrig Mc Loughlin in the coastal town of Dún Laoghaire, Ireland, he was educated in nearby Blackrock, where he attended the same school as Bob Geldof.

He left his homeland for England in the late 1960s and enrolled in the Royal Air Force, where he found himself seconded to the Sultan’s Air Force in Oman. Long-time friend and industry colleague Paul Flower recalls that Dee was reticent to talk about his military service as he had lost friends in combat. However, Mc Loughlin said that the camaraderie he experienced in the forces was replicated somewhat in being part of a touring crew.

Stationed at Cosford, near Wolverhampton, Mc Loughlin settled in the local area where he had friends who followed Birmingham City and, while he was essentially a Liverpool supporter, he joined them at many games, prompting a move to the Moseley area of Birmingham.

A huge live music fan, having explored all the UK festivals of the 70s with his first wife, Jackie, Dee became part of the security team at Birmingham Odeon – the region’s premier venue during the 70s and 80s. It was there that he met Paul Ward and helped to form the Birmingham Stage Crew, a tight and organised unit that served the venue and others in the area. This brought Dee into wider contact with bands and promoters, notably the Walsall-based MCP Promotions who later became his employer in the late 1980s.

Keeping the talent happy was Dee’s obsession and his easy-going affability made him one of the most popular characters on the touring circuit as a rep and tour manager throughout his 40-plus-year career.

“He continued to buy and consume music to the very end”

He would often become part of the artist family, literally in some cases, as from 2006 to 2007 he lived in the home of Neil Finn when working for the singer and guitarist as his personal TM and part of the management team at Finn’s Roundhead Studios in Auckland, New Zealand.

As a result of his relationships and wanderlust, he spent a lot of time in Europe and America, particularly St Louis. His move to New Zealand, however, was curtailed by home-sickness for his small flat and the local community in Moseley, and he spent the rest of his days back in Birmingham.

Flower says that despite Dee’s advanced age he was eager to continue working and was saddened not to be able to complete tours with Judas Priest, and his beloved Crowded House, because of ill health, which prompted his retirement at the age of 72. One of his last TM roles was with Dexys, and he got on so well with the band that frontman Kevin Rowland tried to tempt him out of retirement to help with this year’s tour.

“He continued to go to gigs though, seeing relatively obscure bands in Birmingham,” reports Flower. “He was due to see Soul II Soul earlier this month, and we’d got tickets for Dub Pistols in November. He continued to buy and consume music to the very end.”

Dee McLoughlin’s funeral will be held back in his native Ireland, while Flower is also planning a memorial event in Birmingham.


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Legendary Japanese promoter Seijiro Udo passes

Tributes have been paid to pioneering Japanese concert promoter Seijiro Udo, aka ‘Mr Udo’, who has died at the age of 92 following a long illness.

Udo, whose death was announced by current Udo Artists president Keisuke Endo, was born in Kumamoto, Japan and started out in the music business while in his early 20s.

Launching Udo Artists, Inc. in 1967, Udo staged in excess of 10,000 concerts in the country in a career spanning more than five decades. He brought hundreds of major international acts to Japan, including Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, KISS, Aerosmith, Santana, Jeff Beck, Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, Billy Joel, Bon Jovi, George Harrison, The Who, Van Halen, TOTO and Bryan Adams, among others.

“He was affectionately called ‘Mister Udo’ and was beloved by everyone,” reads a statement by the company, which has retained a strong line in western legends, recently hosting shows by the likes of Deep Purple, Kiss, Jackson Browne and Cheap Trick.

Former Dire Straits manager Ed Bicknell, a longtime friend, tells IQ he has been inundated with memories of Udo from industry colleagues.

“He was always a true gentleman in every sense of the word – honest, honourable and devoted to every artist he promoted”

“Everyone says the same: ‘Honourable’, ‘gentleman’, ‘suits’, ‘mink coat’,” says Bicknell.  “He was incredibly kind to me on a personal level and was definitely ‘The Man’ out there, though I never saw settlement sheet, ever got a percentage or even a sniff at show costs, but I wouldn’t have understood them anyway so settled for wagyu, sake and strange uniquely Japanese experiences. I have a great story involving Barry Manilow but that’s for my book.

“He was a great, great man – a total gentleman and class act, and was so kind to me on the two occasions I went there. I will always remember having the best meal I ever had anywhere with him – and he had the best suits!”

CAA UK co-ahead Mike Greek describes Udo as “always a gent to deal with”, while Wasserman Music agent Phil Banfield says he is “extremely saddened to hear the news of Mr Udo’s passing”.

“I first met him about 45 years ago, when he came to London, which was a rarity,” adds Banfield. “I had no idea who he was at the time, but I took to him straight away. We talked about Japan, the artists he was promoting and how I had got into the business. By the end of our meeting I felt honoured to be in his company.

“Since that first meeting, where we agreed to look at the possibility of Wishbone Ash going to Japan, I have worked with him on touring many artists including Ian Gillan, Jeff Beck, Sting, Deep Purple and many others. He was always a true gentleman in every sense of the word – honest, honourable and devoted to every artist he promoted. The word legend doesn’t do him justice as he was much more than that.”


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Robert van Ommen: 1955-2023

Former Mojo Concerts head promoter Robert van Ommen has died at the age of 68. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2013.

In a statement, the Dutch company said: “It is with great sadness that we have to announce that Robert van Ommen has passed away last week.

“Robert has been one of Mojo’s head promoters for many years and had built up a big international roster working with many international agents and agencies. He also worked with many domestic acts on their domestic tours, such as Marco Borsato and Anouk.

“After a period of two years of uncertainty and many tests, in 2013 Robert got diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. It was unimaginable that someone in the prime of his career had to leave Mojo and the business due to this terrible disease at such a young age.

“Robert was loyal, a very hard working promoter, and a mentor to many of us. We sympathise with his family and loved ones. We also reflect on life, how fleeting it can be, and that we will miss Robert forever. Love from all at Mojo to Robert.”

“Robert was a rock, always approachable for advice and he always gave his honest opinion”

Van Ommen’s funeral will be held in Leeuwenbergh, Utrecht, on Wednesday 18 October at 3pm. His family requests that attendees bring a single flower with them, while in lieu of flowers, they ask for donations to Alzheimer Nederland.

Paying tribute to his former colleague, Mojo co-founder Leon Ramakers says, “When business was expanding in the 90s, Mojo was looking for an experienced booker. We knew that Boomtown, Robert’s small agency, was making waves – he was dealing with this upcoming act called Radiohead…

“Happily, Robert turned out to be proud to join Mojo, where he developed into one of the best bookers of the company. Because of his illness, we’ve been missing Robert for years already. May he rest in peace!”

Mojo managing director John Mulder comments, “For me personally, Robert was a rock, always approachable for advice and he always gave his honest opinion. His advice always mattered to me.

“Robert and I have built many careers of Dutch artists together. Working with Robert was always constructive and result-oriented with an eye for details for both the artist and their fans.”

Former colleague Gideon Karting says, “Robert served as my mentor and taught me almost everything. Especially when to say yes to an agent, which was nearly always!”

“Robert taught me all the tricks of the trade in becoming a promoter”

Kim Bloem, Mojo head promoter, adds, “Robert taught me all the tricks of the trade in becoming a promoter. He introduced me to everybody in his network and very much supported me building a career along the way. He was a very gentle person, who always had an eye for personal lives.”

Live Nation executive president touring international music, Phil Bowdery tells IQ, “Robert was a really good friend. We had lots of similarities in our lives that we discussed often, and always made time to catch up, whenever in each other’s country.

“I’m so sad at his passing, even though he was not in a good place. I have and will miss him greatly. Sincere condolences to his family.”

CAA chief Emma Banks says, “Robert was a very special human. I considered him a friend and he was my ‘go-to’ person in Holland for a very long time. It was a very sad day when he retired from the business, I still miss him.

“I was so happy to see him a few years ago when I went to Amsterdam for his party. His warmth and humanity made Robert the wonderful person that I will always remember. The fact he was really good at his job was clearly a positive but it’s his outstanding attributes as a human being that are first and foremost in my mind.  Robert van Ommen, rest in peace knowing that you will always be in my heart.”

ILMC founder, Martin Hopewell, says, “I have very happy memories of working with Robert – not only because he was a lovely guy to chat to, but also because all of the shows we did together worked out really well and nothing horrible ever went wrong! As a promoter he was professional and precise –  and he also knew how to say “no”, which is a quality I secretly admire in a promoter.

“I’m glad that the ILMC was able to say goodbye to him when we made a video for a party thrown in his honour. We made it look as though I was recording a message from an empty conference room, but then turned the camera to reveal a room stuffed with about 500 ILMC delegates, jumping up and down, cheering their heads off and generally going nutty. That was a powerful moment and something I’ll never forget.”

13 Artists founder Charlie Myatt adds, “A great father.  A great promoter. A true gentleman and a great friend.  My heart goes out to his wonderful family.”

Robert van Ommen is survived by his wife, Delphine, and children Tim and Lauri.


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VNPF co-founder Fons van Iersel passes

The co-founder of the Association of Dutch Music Venues and Festivals (VNPF) has passed away aged 72.

Fons van Iersel, who also co-founded 3,000-cap Tilburg venue 013 in the late 1990s, died at the weekend following an accident, reports BD.

The Dutch live veteran was the first winner at the VNPF’s IJzeren Podiumdier awards in 1997 and was later recognised with the association’s lifetime achievement award in 1999.

“Fons left us at much too young an age,” says the trade body in a statement. “VNPF members, VNPF board and VNPF office employees are more than grateful to Fons as an energetic source of inspiration for his positive involvement in the pop sector.”

“A striking man is gone who has meant a lot to the culture”

Van Iersel was passionate about talent development in the Netherlands, launching the Rock Academy, which helped nurture domestic stars such as Krezip, Danny Vera, Floor Jansen and Duncan Laurence, and had recently set up Tilburg production house Het Pophuis.

“From the realisation of 013 (Tilburg) to co-initiator and talent developer of Het Pophuis; from driving force at Noorderligt (predecessor 013) to founder of the Fontys Rock Academy, its significance cannot be underestimated.

“We wish family, friends, former colleagues a lot of strength with this loss.”

Speaking to BD, Van Iersel’s friend Chris Leenaars adds: “We are all shocked. A striking man is gone who has meant a lot to the culture.”


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Legendary agent Kenny Bell remembered

A host of the international live music industry’s leading lights have shared their memories of legendary agent Kenny Bell following his passing.

Bell, who died last month aged 89, was a jazz trumpeter prior to entering the agency world in the 1960s, initially as a booker for Terry King and Reg Calvert’s Kings Agency at 7 Denmark Street in London.

He later relocated to a flat formerly home to the Moody Blues’ managers at at 79a Warwick Square, Belgrave Road, Pimlico, which was frequently visited rising musicians such as Cat Stevens, Marc Bolan and a certain David Jones.

“I remember coming home early one afternoon to be informed by David that he had decided to change his name to David Bowie,” Bell once recalled. “I told him that was a stupid name as it referred to a bowie knife used in early days in the USA. Oh well! What’s in a name?”

Departing the firm following a falling out with Calvert, Bell began promoting a Sunday Club at the 2,000-cap Pavilion Ballroom in Bournemouth, adding a Friday Club during the summer months.

He then had a spell as a pop agent at EMI Records’ new West One Entertainments agency, before befriending a young agent called Richard Cowley. The pair teamed up to launch a company called Universal Attractions before Chris Wright and Terry Ellis, then of the Ellis-Wright Agency, approached them to join their new venture.

“He was a ’no-nonsense’ character, and kept an eye on everything that we bookers did with our time”

“They were going to form a management/record company/agency and asked if we would like to run the agency,” remembered Bell. “We agreed a deal and Chrysalis was formed and we ran Chrysalis Agency Ltd, starting in late 1968 with our artists and theirs, which included Jethro Tull, Ten Years After, Savoy Brown Blues Band and Chicken Shack.”

Over the next few years, Chrysalis Agency would represent clients such as Led Zeppelin (whose manager Peter Grant’s office was on the floor above), AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Cat Stevens, Joe Cocker, Iron Maiden, T. Rex, Procol Harum, Roxy Music, King Crimson, The Pretenders, The Jam, The Cure and the Sex Pistols.

“In the early ’70s I applied for a job advertised in the Melody Maker to leave my work running a record shop in Brighton,” industry veteran Allan McGowan tells IQ. “The ad required an experienced ‘booker’, later to be referred to as an agent, to join Chrysalis Agency. I was interviewed by the long experienced Kenny Bell, who was obviously aware of my lack of experience, but allowed me to pretend to be very knowledgeable about Jethro Tull, Ten Years After, Chicken Shack and various others signed to Chrysalis.

“He and his partner Richard Cowley took me on and along with other youngsters such as Simon Brogan, John Jackson, and sometime later Martin Hopewell, taught us to build up an extremely professional agency. Kenny allowed me to concentrate on booking UK clubs, whilst others concentrated on colleges and universities – the main venues at that time. He also introduced me to international venues.

“He was a ’no-nonsense’ character, and kept an eye on everything that we bookers did with our time. When I moved on to Virgin Agency and learned more about international touring and promoting, I had Kenny to thank for learning many aspects of the business. So, RIP Kenny Bell!”

Bell, who co-owned popular music industry hangout La Chasse Club in Wardour Street, also became a director of London’s renamed Rainbow Theatre (previously Finsbury Park Astoria) after the Chrysalis Group took over the lease. In conjunction with his agency work, Bell booked the likes of David Bowie, The Who, Liza Minnelli and Roxy Music into the venue.

“Kenny’s passing is the end of an era and I am pleased to say I will use his advice as often as possible”

“I first met Kenny in the Spring of 1972 as he was interviewing me for the job of club booker at the Chrysalis Agency,” says K2 Agency founder John Jackson, speaking to IQ. “I didn’t get the job but I was invited back and in July 1972 he gave me my first proper job as college booker.

“I had absolutely no idea what was expected of me but my extensive knowledge or rock music clearly helped. The other bookers and I shared one office room with Kenny and partner Richard Cowley and I was happy to listen to how Kenny worked especially his unique way of dealing with promoters. I remember him many times advising, ‘I never want to deal with that c**t again… until I need him.’ Kenny’s passing is the end of an era and I am pleased to say I will use his advice as often as possible.”

Chrysalis Agency was renamed Cowbell Agency and then World Service (which merged with Station Agency to form Primary Talent International in the 1990s), while Bell added promoting to his bow in the ’80s for clients such as Rod Stewart, Bryan Ferry and Jethro Tull.

“Kenny was one of a handful of people who laid the foundations for the modern agency business in Europe,” Primary Talent’s Martin Hopewell tells IQ. “He was also the only boss I ever really had.

“It would almost be an understatement to say that he was a key figure in my lifetime, because if he hadn’t given me a job half a century ago – and for some weird reason not booted me straight out of it again – then pretty well everything in my life would have been different. Although he would never have acknowledged it, I owe him a lot and will always be grateful to him for his support, advice and friendship.”

Bell exited World Service in 1995 but carried on working from home, looking after Jethro Tull until 2005. The band’s singer Ian Anderson paid tribute in a website post.

“Kenny was very important to me. Without him, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today”

“Kenny began working for us as part of an arrangement to handle the agency booking of acts signed to the newly-formed Chrysalis Records in 1969,” says Anderson. “Kenny went on to represent pop and rock artists as a manager and then international agent at that special time which was to become the most important in the development of major UK talent in the ’60s.

“For the next 36 years he continued to book Tull around the world (except the USA/Canada) and also to actually promote our UK concerts in all the established venues around the country.

“When he finally retired in 2005… my son James took over with the benefit of the many contacts forged by Kenny over the years. Kenny was one of the true greats of the UK music business and will be missed by many artists and managers who counted on him for the building of their careers.”

Tributes also poured in from outside the UK. Spanish promoting great Gay Mercader, who first encountered Bell in the mid 1970s, says: “Kenny was very important to me. Without him, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today. He gave me my first break with Jethro Tull, which kept us going for ages. They would always sell out even when Spain wasn’t a big touring market.

“Kenny was a very calm person – extremely fair and very funny and sarcastic – and he showed us that you have to cooperate. Nowadays, some agents seem to think that the secret is to fight with your promoter. That is not true – the agent and the promoter have to work hand in hand to solidify or establish the artist’s career, and that was the way you worked with Kenny.”

Thomas Johansson, Live Nation’s chairman of international music and Nordics, worked with Bell on concerts in Scandinavia by acts including Rod Stewart, Procol Harum and Jethro Tull, who supported Jimi Hendrix at a Stockholm gig in the late 1960s. The duo also co-promoted a show by ABBA at Glasgow Apollo in 1977.

“Kenny would have been a fantastic teacher,” Johansson tells IQ. “He was a marvellous guy and we got on very well together. I actually last spoke to him only about eight or nine months ago and we had a good, long conversation. I liked him a lot and he became one of the mentors who made me understand the business a little bit better.”

Former Mojo Concerts director Leon Ramakers adds: “Kenny was the most ‘British’ of all agents, phlegmatic, special sense of humour and just a nice guy. Good memories.”


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Sinead O’Connor: 1966-2023

The music industry is mourning Sinéad O’Connor following the Irish singer-songwriter’s death at the age of 56.

Police say the BRIT and Grammy Award-winning artist was found “unresponsive” and “pronounced dead at the scene” at her home in London yesterday (26 July). No cause of death has been reported, but officers say it is not being treated as suspicious.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Sinéad,” says a statement by her family. “Her family and friends are devastated and have requested privacy at this very difficult time.”

O’Connor’s last live concert took place at the Rio Theatre in Santa Cruz, California, in February 2020. A scheduled 2022 tour was cancelled following the death of her son Shane, aged 17, in January last year.

Her former agent Steve Zapp, of International Talent Booking (ITB), tells the Irish Independent: “I was lucky enough to get the chance to work for a while with the incredible Sinead – a legend, huge spirit who was never frightened to speak her mind and one of the most talented and inspiring people that I’ve ever had the honour to meet. I’ll treasure that time forever and send my heartfelt condolences to Sinead’s family and all that were touched by her life.”

O’Connor’s biggest hit was her iconic cover version of Prince’s Nothing Compares 2 U, which topped charts around the globe in 1990. Her most controversial moment came two years later, when she ripped up a photo of the Pope on US late night TV show Saturday Night Live to protest the issue of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church – an incident that led to the artist being treated, in her own words, “like a pariah”.

“Sinead O’Connor was one of the most important artists to come out of the British Isles for the last 40 years”

“People say, ‘Oh, you fucked up your career’ but they’re talking about the career they had in mind for me,” she told the Guardian in 2021. “I fucked up the house in Antigua that the record company dudes wanted to buy. I fucked up their career, not mine. It meant I had to make my living playing live, and I am born for live performance.”

Glassnote Entertainment Group founder Daniel Glass, a former executive at O’Connor’s longtime record label Chrysalis Records, tells the Guardian: “Live, she would always have hip-hop artists opening for her. That was her thing. No one was doing that. Not the commercial producers, but the really rock, hip-hop, political people in the business that had a voice – she gave them a voice and she had them opening for her.”

O’Connor, who spoke openly about her mental health struggles through the years, released 10 studio albums over the course of her career, from 1987’s The Lion and the Cobra to 2014’s I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss.

Jeremy Lascelles, CEO of Blue Raincoat Group, part of the Reservoir Group of companies which includes Chrysalis Records, also paid tribute.

“Sinead O’Connor was one of the most important artists to come out of the British Isles for the last 40 years,” says Lascelles. “The bravery of her music and the stance that she took on many issues makes her stand out as a champion for women’s voices on every level. She was both of her time and ahead of it, and has left us with a legacy of music that means so much to so many.

“She remained hugely creative right to the end, and the world is a sadder place with her passing. The Chrysalis and Reservoir family pays tribute to a true visionary, a true legend.”


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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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Tributes to legendary music lawyer Alexis Grower

The family of Alexis Grower has paid tribute to the “extraordinary” maverick music lawyer following his passing in April, at the age of 79.

A longtime ILMC member, Grower represented a wide array of artists including Roger Daltrey, Robert Plant, Motörhead, Marvin Gaye, John Lydon, The Smiths and The Stranglers.

He also worked with the likes of AC/DC, Kirsty MacColl, Earth, Wind & Fire, Bill Wyman, Jocelyn Brown, So Solid Crew, Barrington Levy, Freddy McGregor and Eddy Grant to name but a few in a storied career spanning more than half a century.

“He was known for really fighting for the artist,” his daughter, the actor and film director Mercedes Grower, tells IQ. “He just loved what he did – maybe that’s why he related to all the musicians – he understood the business side of the industry, but more than anything was a true music lover who fought tooth and nail for his clients.

“Even after his passing, we are still getting messages from unsigned artists who want to pay their respects and let us know that dad had saved them from a dodgy contract and unethical deal, and charged them no money for doing it. It was never about money for Alexis, it was always about what was fair and justice.

“Alexis was vicious when it came to winning a case, you didn’t want to get on the wrong side of him, he patterned his own contract which became synonymous with his name, and is still mentioned in law classes being taught in today’s universities.”

Grower was a pioneering human rights lawyer, most famously working as a solicitor for the family of anti-racism activist Blair Peach

Grower started off as a pioneering human rights lawyer, most famously working as a solicitor for the family of Blair Peach, a teacher and anti-racism campaigner killed during the 1979 Southall riots, and the Anti-Nazi League. He was a partner at the family law firm Seifert Sedley with Stephen Sedley and the late Michael Seifert, going on to work for Magrath and Co and latterly as a consultant for SSB.

“What’s interesting about Alexis and [SSB partner] Paul Spraggan is Alexis started Paul off in the business, and then as dad got older he went to work with Paul at SSB,” “Paul said when he first turned up at his office, Alexis told him, ‘Don’t ever come here in a suit again unless you’re going to court.’ Dad never wore a suit, and this was back in the ’80s.

“Alexis was very charismatic. He made himself from nothing, He was quite wild really, even though he was a lawyer. I think that’s why all the musicians liked him. Lots of up-and-coming kids, who didn’t think they’d get anywhere, started off with him and he didn’t charge them until they made something. I guess that was his way of carrying on his socialist beginnings.”

Twice married, Grower had three children by his first wife Susy Grower: Mercedes, Claudia and Leo, and two by his second wife Josephine Grower: Nathan and Julius. The family was inundated with messages of goodwill from the music industry following his death in April.

“So many people have been calling , it’s been very touching,” says Mercedes, who reveals that one such message came from the CEO of Universal Music Group, Sir Lucian Grainge. “It said, ‘I have many fond memories of Alexis . He acted for so many of the artists, but personally as well. We travelled so much together, we loved our beloved Arsenal. He was a character and a one-off with a counterintuitive brain, as well as someone with a great joie de vivre,’ which is a nice thing to say isn’t it. He was an extraordinary person.”

She adds: “One of the last times I spent with Dad he dragged me to the Borderline to see a heavy metal band he was convinced was the new Led Zeppelin, you couldn’t tell him any different. If they were his clients they were going to be a No.1 hit.”


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Former concert promoter Jack Utsick dies aged 80

Former concert promoter Jack Utsick has died of cancer at the age of 80.

Utsick, who was an airline pilot before entering live music, founded Worldwide Entertainment in the 1990s and went on to promote tours around the globe by superstars such as the Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, Britney Spears, the Bee Gees, the Pretenders, Aerosmith and Fleetwood Mac.

Pollstar notes he also acquired interests in venues including Germany’s Wuhlheide Amphitheatre and New Zealand’s Vector Arena.

However, Worldwide was placed into administration amid mounting debts in 2006, and Utsick was subsequently accused of operating the Miami-headquartered business as a $200 million Ponzi scheme.

“I went through almost 12 years of crying every night for these poor people”

Utsick was alleged to have defrauded more than 3,300 investors, having promised them fixed rates of return ranging from 15% to 25% and, in some instances, an additional percentage of profits. Prosecutors said that when most of the entertainment projects lost money, he paid earlier investors with funds raised from new investors.

In 2014, Utsick was extradited to the US from Brazil, where he fled in 2007 after being charged by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), following a protracted court battle, and was sentenced to 18 years in prison in 2016 after admitting fraud. He was also ordered to repay US$169m to Worldwide’s investors.

“I went through almost 12 years of crying every night for these poor people,” he told ABC from his prison cell in 2019. “I said I’m sorry and I said I’m sorry to some of the people who got screwed.”

A family friend tells CelebrityAccess that Utsick died in Florida after being released from prison during the Covid-19 pandemic.


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‘Simply the best’: Tina Turner remembered

Michael Rapino, Mick Jagger, Andre Bechir, Beyonce and Max Lousada have joined the chorus of voices mourning Tina Turner following the pop icon’s death aged 83.

The legendary American vocalist died yesterday (24 May) at her home near Zurich, Switzerland following a long illness, sparking a flood of tributes from across the world.

“Tina always sparkled with strength and joy,” Swiss promoter Bechir, who staged around 30 concerts by Turner, tells Blick. “Despite all the drama and strokes of fate that she had to experience, she never let the negative get to her, she always valued the good as bigger and higher. I have and will always admire that about Tina Turner, this great talent and this wonderful woman.

“Even when she faced major health challenges, where she withdrew, we were in contact by phone, I was with her and Erwin [Bach, Turner’s husband]. Even then, she remained confident that everything would turn out well. She never lost her sense of humour either.”

Live Nation CEO Rapino tweets: “Simply The Best. RIP Tina Turner,” while Spain’s Doctor Music posts: “Tina Turner passed away yesterday but her powerful voice will never fade. She will now forever be the queen of rock and roll. We’ll miss you. Tina, you are simply the best.”

“I am so grateful for your inspiration, and all the ways you have paved the way”

Turner’s 11th and final tour, the 90-date Tina!: 50th Anniversary Tour, was attended by 1.2 million fans from October 2008 to May 2009 and grossed US$132.5 million at the box office.

Her previous Twenty Four Seven Tour in 2000 generated $122.5m from more than 2.4m ticket sales. According to Pollstar it was the year’s highest-grossing tour in North America, netting $80.2m. During her Break Every Rule World Tour in 1988, she reportedly set a then-Guinness World Record for the largest paying audience for a solo performer when she drew 180,000 people to the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Beyoncé, who duetted with Turner at the 2008 Grammy Awards, writes on her website: “My beloved queen. I love you endlessly. I am so grateful for your inspiration, and all the ways you have paved the way. You are strength and resilience. You are the epitome of passion and power.

“We are all so fortunate to have witnessed your kindness and beautiful spirit that will forever remain. Thank you for all you have done.”

Mick Jagger posts on social media: “I’m so saddened by the passing of my wonderful friend Tina Turner. She was truly an enormously talented performer and singer. She was inspiring, warm, funny and generous. She helped me so much when I was young and I will never forget her.”

“Tina will be remembered most through the sheer joy of her music”

Dionne Warwick writes: “Not only will I miss that eternal ball of energy named Tina Turner but the entire world will also find this void in their lives.”

Born Anna Mae Bullock in Brownsville, Tennessee in 1939, Turner first found fame alongside her first husband Ike Turner in the Ike & Tina Turner Revue before going on to huge success as a solo artist in the 1980s with songs such as What’s Love Got to Do with It, Private Dancer, We Don’t Need Another Hero and The Best.

A 12-time Grammy Award winner, she was signed to Warner Music, whose CEO, recorded music, Max Lousada says: “All of us at Warner Music are deeply saddened by the passing of the one and only Tina Turner. A global icon and trailblazer, instantly recognisable by her incredible voice and inimitable style, she was one of the greatest stars of all time.

“Even after the countless awards, the 180 million album sales, the record-breaking tours, and unforgettable acting roles, Tina will be remembered most through the sheer joy of her music. So powerful is her extraordinary, universal appeal that there is no doubt she will continue to influence generations to come. She stands as the epitome of artistic self-empowerment.

“We offer our heartfelt condolences to her husband Erwin Bach, family, friends, and countless fans around the world.”


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