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.”
Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.