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Live Aid stalwart Pete Smith passes aged 69

Pete Smith, the talent coordinator for the historic Live Aid concerts in 1985, has died aged 69.

A much admired and respected figure in the music industry, he started out as a social secretary at Leeds University – a position he passed on to now renowned artist manager Paul Loasby in 1974.

Among the acts that Pete promoted at the Leeds Uni Union were The Who, Bill Haley and the Comets, The Kinks and many others.

When he left university, Pete worked as an agent at MAM, alongside the likes of Barry Dickins, John Giddings and Ian Wright.

Through his Leeds connections, Pete went on to work with The Kinks on several different occasions. He also worked with Al Stewart, The Chieftains and Vitamin Z in the late 70s.

Overseeing the career of South African guitarist Trevor Rabin, Pete took him to Los Angeles and introduced him to Yes, with whom he helped to write Owner of A Lonely Heart.

In spring 1985, he was asked to an early morning meeting with Harvey Goldsmith and offered the role of talent coordinator for Live Aid. Harvey famously told Pete if Live Aid was a success, his name would never be mentioned; but if it was not a success it would all be down to Pete.

Among the acts that Pete promoted at the Leeds Uni Union were The Who, Bill Haley and the Comets and the The Kinks

Pete also travelled to New York and Philadelphia to liaise on the US Live Aid bill liaise with Bill Graham, who apparently refused to work with half of the suggested artists. Pete asked what about the other half, to which Graham replied that they refused to work with him.

Years after Live Aid, Pete was also involved with Live 8, working in Philadelphia on that occasion. Pete would later write Just The Ticket: A Live Aid Memoire, proceeds of which went to The Band Aid Trust.

In 1990, Pete worked with Roger Waters on the massively scaled Wall concert in Berlin to mark the end of the Berlin Wall and later went on to work with the Alan Parsons Live Project and the British Rock Symphony.

Latterly, Pete embarked on a change of career path and produced several symphonic rock albums. His last music business foray was publishing fine art prints of album cover artwork, including Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Pink Floyd’s Animals, among many others.

Married for the last 38 years to Concert Promoters Association secretary Carole Burness-Smith, the couple saw their son, Oliver – a lieutenant commander in the Royal Navy – marry wife Anna earlier this year.

Pete had suffered from heart trouble over the years and had undergone surgery twice this year. However, a few weeks ago he was diagnosed with untreatable liver cancer. He died with Carole and Oli by his side.


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