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Music festival ‘visionary’ Vince Power dies at 76

The music world is mourning Mean Fiddler founder and festival pioneer Vince Power, who has died at the age of 76.

Working across festivals such as Glastonbury, Reading & Leeds, Phoenix, The Fleadh, Madstock and Spain’s Benicassim, the Irish promoter is credited with helping change the face of the music industry. He passed away on Saturday (9 March).

“It is with great sadness that we confirm the passing of Vince Power,” reads a statement from his family. “A visionary entrepreneur who enhanced and influenced the music industry significantly, whilst always being a dedicated, loving father and a loyal friend to so many.

“We want to thank everyone who has offered their condolences and request that our privacy be respected at this time of great sadness.”

County Waterford-born Power opened the Mean Fiddler venue in Harlesden, London, in 1982, which formed the springboard for his Mean Fiddler Group empire. Under the umbrella, Power managed London venues including the Jazz Cafe, the Garage, Clapham Grand and Kentish Town Forum.

In 1989, Mean Fiddler took over the operation of the ailing Reading Festival and revived its fortunes, adding a Leeds leg a decade later.

“We had an amazing 20 years together that helped shape the music industry as we know it now”

“Vince’s passing is a massive loss to the music industry and to me personally,” says Festival Republic MD Melvin Benn. “A visionary with a willingness to take risks to enable his vision but always with a humbleness that belied his importance. We had an amazing 20 years together that helped shape the music industry as we know it now.”

Power sold his Mean Fiddler venue and festival empire to Clear Channel – now Live Nation – in 2005, going on to launch Kent’s Hop Farm Festival, which ran between 2008 and 2012.

The impresario, who was made an honorary CBE in 2006, set up a number of ventures after Mean Fiddler, including Vince Power Music Group (VPMG) and Music Festivals plc, which he floated on London’s Alternative Investment Market in 2011, raising £6.5 million. He took over the running of Dingwalls, a 500-cap venue in Camden in 2020.

Tributes have continued to pour in from across the live music business on social media.

Live Aid promoter Harvey Goldsmith says: “Vince was a larger than life character, always sailing close to the wind. He did a lot for entertainment and should be remembered for that.”

Black Deer Festival co-founder Gill Tee, a friend of Power’s for more than 30 years, recalls her time as festival director at Hop Farm, which was headlined by acts such as Prince, Bob Dylan and Neil Young.

“What I’ll always remember is his incredible generosity and support”

“I learned so much in those five years, starting a festival from scratch with a man that had music flowing through his veins,” she says on LinkedIn. “He was such an incredible man who achieved so much, and was truly a visionary.””

Sarah Slater, who leads Ticketmaster UK’s music & festivals division, says the industry has “lost a legend”.

“I had the privilege of working with him on the Benicassim festival in 2012,” she writes. “Reflecting on Vince’s impact on me, I realised that he pushed me to be my best and always believed in my abilities… His unwavering support taught me resilience, perseverance, communication and relationship management skills that have been instrumental in my career.”

AXS director of business development John Talbot says he is “deeply saddened” at news of Power’s passing. VPMG announced AXS as its official ticketing partner for all its London venues, including the former Dingwalls, PowerHaus (cap. 500), The Fiddler (cap. 120), Nells (cap. 350) and Subterania (cap. 600), in late 2021.

“What I’ll always remember is his incredible generosity and support,” says Talbot. “It’s impressive to read his achievements being shared on this sad day.”

“He was so important to Irish culture and community at home and the UK. He’ll be greatly missed”

Artist manager Stephen Budd says: “A huge figure in UK music, major festival promoter, venue owner and more. I know he divided a lot of people, but he was always very good to me, treated my artists with a lot of respect and paid them well.”

Veteran promoter Rob Hallett says on Facebook: “He was pivotal in my life in so many ways both professionally and personally, giving me opportunities that I didn’t even understand at the time.

“He was truly a great man, not a saint – we had many disagreements – but a man of principle and tremendous tenacity. Vince would never give up and changed the face of the live music industry as we knew it before his arrival from Ireland.”

Tributes have also followed from the artist community. Singer Imelda May tweets: “So sad to hear of the passing of the great Vince Power. I adored him. He took a chance on me at the start of my career when I needed it most. He was so important to Irish culture and community at home and the UK. He’ll be greatly missed.”

Chrissie Hynde adds: “No one did more for the London music scene than Vince. We owe him so much. A visionary and a dude. Thank you Vince for giving us the chance to play.”

Power is survived by eight children.


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