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Tom Petty, tireless live performer, dies aged 66

American singer-songwriter Tom Petty, known for his gritty, nasal vocals, chiming guitar riffs and prolific output first with the Heartbreakers, then the Traveling Wilburys and as a solo artist, has died aged 66 – just a week after wrapping up the Heartbreakers’ 40th Anniversary tour.

The news was confirmed by his long-time manager, Tony Dimitriades, this morning, who confirmed media reports Petty had suffered a heart attack at his home in Malibu, California, yesterday evening. He died “peacefully at 8.40pm” local time, says Dimitriades, “surrounded by family, his bandmates and friends”.

With the Heartbreakers, Petty (pictured) – who first achieved fame in the late ’70s with an unpretentious, relatable brand of roots rock dedicated to what he once called “America’s losers and fighters and dreamers” – had toured almost constantly since 1977, with a two and a half-year stretch between 1991–92’s Into the Great Wide Open tour and 1995’s Dogs with Wings his longest period off the road.

The Heartbreakers’ 2014 North American trek, in support of their 13th album, Hypnotic Eye – the most recent tour for which there is box-office information – grossed US$26.4m from 35 shows. Their 53-date 40th Anniversary tour kicked off in March and wrapped up at LA’s Hollywood Bowl on 25 September, visiting arenas across the US and pausing only to play for record numbers of fans at BST Hyde Park in London in June.

A statement from Live Nation, which produced the tour, reads: “We are deeply saddened to learn of Tom Petty’s passing. He was a titan of rock and roll, an extraordinary songwriter and performer and an American legend.

“Tom was a true rock and roll purist, both in his music and his defiant spirit”

“It was an honour to work with him over the years, and particularly on his recent 40th anniversary tour. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and all fans of this gifted artist.”

In addition to his live and recorded careers – he sold more than 80m records worldwide – Petty was well known as an staunch advocate of artistic control and artistic freedom, being named MusiCares person of the year by the Recording Academy earlier this year for his “career-long interest in defending artists’ rights” and his charitable work with homeless people in LA.

Neil Portnow, president and CEO of the Recording Academy, describes Petty as a “true rock and roll purist, both in his music and his defiant spirit. With the Heartbreakers, his infectious riffs, rebellious personality, and inventive songwriting brought a new urgency to rock traditions and fuelled a now legendary career and some of the most memorable music of the last four decades. […]

“Tom will be remembered as much for his humanity as his music. Our sincerest condolences go out to his family, friends and colleagues as they look to find comfort during this difficult time.”

Watch footage of Petty’s final encore, playing ‘You Wreck Me’ and ‘American Girl’ at the Hollywood Bowl, below:


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450,000 attend best BST Hyde Park yet

The fifth edition of British Summer Time (BST) Hyde Park, which wrapped up on Sunday 9 June, once again delivered double-digit growth for promoter AEG Presents, with a footfall of 450,000 across 10 days for its flagship UK festival.

A total of 350,000 people attended the six concert events – headlined by Phil Collins on Friday 30 June, Green Day on Saturday 1 July, Justin Bieber on Sunday 2 July, Kings of Leon on Thursday 6 July, The Killers on Saturday 8 July and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers on Sunday 9 July – with a further 100,000 attending free ‘Open House’ events in the park on days with no music.

That’s a 17% increase on last year’s total of 385,000 – 325,000 for ticketed events and 60,000 for Open House – when five of six concerts sold out; in 2017, for the first time, it was all six.

Double-digit growth for BST Hyde Park 2016

For the fifth year, BST was produced on behalf of AEG Presents by Loudsound, a London-based event production company whose other festival clients include Bestival, Camp Bestival and Field Day. IQ caught up with the Loudsound team – operations directors Dave Grindle and Dan Craig and senior event and project manager Steve Reynolds (pictured, L–R, below) – on the final day of the festival to discuss how they implemented their brief from AEG: “To a create a magical experience for everyone.”

Content-wise, Craig said, “the AEG Presents bookers have done an incredible job across the board. We’ve sold out across all six shows, so hats off to them – that’s been really, really good.

“The audiences have been very different as well, which reflects the great variety in the programming: The Green Day show was brilliant and the Killers last night were on another level.”

While AEG handled the programming, Loudsound, in partnership with G4S, was responsible for security, which – in common with other events this summer – was beefed up compared to previous years. “There’s lots going on, as you might expect, both inside and outside the event footprint,” explained Grindle, who said Loudsound had for the first time introduced archway metal detectors across the board. “That was quite a big step up from previous years, where we only had a few of them of each entrance. This year everybody has been put through them.”

“It’s been rammed every night … The numbers have just been insane”

Craig continued: “Outside the venue we’ve put in place some extra road closures in and around Hyde Park. That was part of a broader review in response to vehicle attacks on events elsewhere in Europe, and we had the opportunity to shut some privately owned roads, which was a simple decision to make.”

While the music was still clearly the headline draw, Craig says the real success story from 2017 was Open House, which encouraged thousands of local residents to visit the park and experience BST in the daytime.

Activities, he said, included a kids’ theatre; a free-to-access headphone cinema, with two sittings each day for up to 2,000 people; free-to-access live music and entertainment on the main, Barclaycard stage; and two ‘statement’ sporting events.

“The first one, which we were particularly proud of, was bringing in Major League Baseball for their first footsteps onto British soil, which was amazing,” he explained. “That took place on Tuesday 4 July and was visited by 15,000 people. We held a real-world baseball exhibition match – a ‘home run derby’ – on the stage, and baseball stars and celebrities were hitting baseballs out into the crowd.

Dave Grindle, Dan Craig, Steve Reynolds, Loudsound, BST Hyde Park 2017

“It was a great production, and is a really key relationship for us as a business. It really showed the diversity of the venue and the team delivering the venue: to be able to do a 180-degree pivot from an 65,000-capacity concert to a free baseball exhibition with just an overnight changeover. We’ve had some great public feedback on that already.”

“We also did the world’s biggest high-intensity interval training class, which Joe Wicks, the Body Coach, came in for,” continued Grindle. “Even though it was really hot that day [5 July], around 4,000 people turned up for that. It broke the Guinness World Record, so he was very pleased. In general the midweek events have been really well attended.”

“Overall we feel like British Summer Time has been a success, but Open House is where we feel the event has really come into its own,” added Craig. “It’s part of the promise of what British Summer Time is all about. You’ve got these six concert events and then the giveback to the community who use this park and amenity space, so we’ve laid on some great content that people can come in and enjoy for free.

“It’s been rammed every night, with there regularly being over 10,000 people on the site through the day. The numbers have just been insane.”


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