Ian Copeland Dies

Update: Ian Copeland, founder of Frontier Booking International and brother of former IRS label CEO Miles Copeland and ex-Police drummer Stewart Copeland, died May 23rd in Los Angeles after a battle with melanoma. He turned 57 on April 25th.

A memorial service for Copeland will take place Tuesday May 30th at 11 a.m. at the Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park at 1218 Glendon Ave. in Los Angeles, according to family members.

“Ian, as his autobiography would suggest, was a wild thing,” Miles Copeland said in a statement. “He had an exciting and a fulfilling life that touched many people and left them all the richer for it.

“He was not only our brother, but a maverick partner to Stewart and I, and so many others in this crazy world of entertainment. It will not be the same without him.”

Ian started making his mark in the agency business at Phil Walden’s Paragon Agency in Macon, Ga., in the 1970s, working with Alex Hodges, Buck Williams and John Huie before moving to New York and starting F.B.I. – where he represented some of the top artists of the 1980s including The Police, R.E.M., Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Go-Go’s, and Squeeze.

Ian wrote an autobiography, “Wild Thing,” in 1995 recounting his remarkable career and upbringing as the son of an American CIA agent in the Middle East. In recent years he owned the Backstage Café in Beverly Hills.

Known as a colorful and gregarious agent, Ian led at least as colorful a life before entering the music business. Born in Damascus, Syria, he grew up in Beirut, hung out with a biker gang and had a brief “career” stealing cars before landing in jail, according to his autobiography.

He ran away to Europe before returning to Beirut and eventually enlisting in the U.S. Army, which sent him to Vietnam in 1967.

Shortly after his return, he got his first gig in the business when Miles asked him to take on tour managing duties for an up-and-coming band called Wishbone Ash.

Ian was coaxed by Alex Hodges, now an executive VP with House of Blues Concerts in Los Angeles, to move to Macon and join Paragon, where he met and married Connie Walden, with whom he had daughters Barbara and Chandra.

“When Ian told me he wanted to book his little brother’s band, I thought it was just about the funniest thing I’d ever heard,” Hodges told Pollstar. “But I’d convinced Ian to move from London, England to Macon, Ga., and in hindsight that was probably the best job of salesmanship in my entire career.”

But it was the creation of the “law enforcement” wing of the Copeland family business where Ian’s career skyrocketed.

Miles Copeland started the International Records Syndicate (IRS) label while Ian left Paragon and launched F.B.I. Over the course of a decade, they steered a plethora of English and other European acts to the U.S., infusing a lethargic post-disco music industry with new artistic blood.

In addition to repping his “little brother’s band,” The Police, between 1979 and 1994, F.B.I. signed more than 300 bands including British “new wave” upstarts Simple Minds, The English Beat, Joy Division and Dream Syndicate; pop chart-toppers like The B-52’s, Bangles, Go-Go’s, and R.E.M.; metal’s Black Sabbath and Megadeth; and even Donny Osmond.

Actress Courteney Cox Arquette was Ian’s girlfriend and also his first acting client. Although they later went their separate ways, it was his booking of Cox in Bruce Springsteen‘s “Dancing In The Dark” video that launched her career.

Ian is also credited with helping develop a new wave of talent buyers and club owners who also loved the new music he championed. He mentored many young agents who went on to run their own agencies. He put a number of young but enthusiastic indie promoters in business by also selling his roster of acts to them rather than just the established promoters of the day.

After Ian was diagnosed with cancer, many of his friends gathered in Las Vegas during the Concert Industry Consortium in February for a poker tournament – a game Ian loved – to help raise money to defray his mounting medical costs. More than $100,000 was raised in the effort which was spearheaded by William Morris Agency‘s Brent Smith, who once worked in F.B.I.’s Los Angeles office.

Ian Copeland is survived by his daughters Barbara and Chandra, mother Lorraine, sister Lennie, and brothers Miles and Stewart.

Donations to a melanoma research foundation may be made in the name of Ian Copeland to: Live4Live Foundation, Attn: Melissa B. Shohn, 300 East 59th Street, Suite 502, New York, N.Y., 10022. . – Deborah Speer