Ian Copeland Remembered

Ian Copeland, former agent and industry icon, passed away this week. Here are farewells from his brothers Miles and Stewart, Sting, Courteney Cox Arquette, Dave Wakeling and his many friends inside the industry.

I am sorry to announce that my brother Ian passed from us last night at 11:20 p.m. He was with his two daughters and later we all joined him. It is hard to believe, but he had an exciting life and was grateful for it. He was also grateful for all the friendship shown to him over the past few months from so many people. He was much loved by so many. He will be greatly missed.

Miles Copeland

My brother Ian has died. His last weeks were peaceful and serene, surrounded by his family. He met his fate with courage, grace and even a little humor. After Miles’ update to all of you, I was able to relay to him your flood of prayers and good wishes. He liked that. He was very weak but was able to say ‘Cheers and regards.’ I am devastated beyond words.

Stewart Copeland

Ian Copeland was both my friend and my booking agent for most of my career. He lived his life with the easy going, relaxed philosophy of a man who’d been under fire and survived, as if the violence that he’d witnessed and taken part in during his service in Vietnam had given him a broader perspective on the important things of life. He was not driven by any grandiose ambitions, or the impossible demands of an overblown ego. He was self-possessed and confident enough to take genuine pleasure in the worldly success of those close to him without taking any of it too seriously. Very little seemed to faze him. His agreeable humor became a constant that could be relied on as a counter to the often hysterical absurdities of a music business in constant flux and turmoil. I would seek out the pleasure of his company, marvel at his dry wit, and listen raptly to his self-deprecating, humorous and often terrifying stories. He was a brave man to the end, a great father and mentor, an inspiration to all of those who worked with him. “Leroy” was the life and soul of any party. The world is a darker place now that he’s gone. We shall miss him terribly.


A very rare combination in these times: a great man, an honest agent and a true friend. When he quit being an agent I was very sad. Now Ian is no longer with us. I’m truly at a loss. Thank you for the memories Leroy, you were my hero. My thoughts are with Barbara and Chandra at this time – hang in there girls, you were the lights of his life. I’ll see you again, Leroy.

Billy Francis

Ian Copeland was the man responsible for bringing New Wave music to America. When Ian believed in something, he believed in it with passion. He believed in it so much that he made everyone else believe in it, too. And he was absolutely right.

Courteney Cox Arquette

Buddhists believe that you can help your friend at this time by sending him love and encouragement as he faces his new adventure. I have always found it to be more useful than grieving too much. So let’s send Ian our thanks, our love and our support. When he could have chosen any way to behave, he was wonderfully kind to me.

Dave Wakeling

Ian Copeland gave me my wings to fly! He gave me the freedom to become the agent that he saw in me all along. Starting FBI with him in ’79 and the six years that followed was the greatest adventure of my life. He was a great agent who operated from the heart. He had the passion, the ears, and the gut instinct that helped drive a music revolution in the late ’70s and early ’80s. I’ll never forget Ian buying two used 15-passenger vans – pulling the seats out of one to haul gear and using the other to haul the artists. The bands would fly in from England, do a club tour and fly back with money in their pockets! A novel concept back then, like it would be again today.

John Huie

Ian Copeland meant the world to me. I’m not a poet, a writer or a singer. I know six chords on the guitar and I’m crap at playing drums. However, Ian once said, “My instrument is the telephone.” And because of Ian, it turned out that was my instrument, too. He taught me how to be a booking agent. It wasn’t just watching him cut deals; it was all about watching him operate. He had endless wit, charm, warmth and intelligence – the likes I’d never seen before or since. I wanted to be Ian Copeland, not just work for him. He was that inspiring, and I know I’m not alone in saying so. And let’s not forget about the music. Ian Copeland was my idol, my mentor and, most importantly, my friend. His impact on my life is enormous and I will miss him more than you can ever imagine.

Steve Ferguson

Ian and I were partners for 11 years. We worked together at Paragon in Macon starting in 1977 or 1978. He became my closest friend during our tenure together, which ended in 1992. We traveled the world having the greatest time two guys could have, and made money at it. His contribution to our business was much greater than just touring. His contribution was to the development of modern music. He was the driving force behind the New Wave movement. He was the go-to-guy for young, first release, New Wave bands in Europe. He developed a circuit in which young European acts could come over, work and go home not in debt. His dedication to the artists and their music is still unparalleled. No one loved music more than Ian. I will miss my brother as long as I live.

Buck Williams

Ian found a new generation of promoter for a new generation of artist. He established a touring circuit outside the mainstream that all took note of. He achieved amazing results for his clients. The touring industry changed with the times because Ian Copeland set the standard. Frontier Booking International was a productive and happy place to be. It was a family. Ian’s knowledge, direction, love of music and especially the hospitality that he extended to each of us made it so. We worked our asses off for Ian and it was always fun. No one in our field has ever touched so many lives both professionally and personally as did Ian Copeland. No one ever will.

Andy Somers

There was never a better person to work for then Ian. He was street savvy, extremely generous and an outright blast just to be around. He created a rare environment of showing you how to navigate a stressful work load while having the time of your life. Over the years, Ian was the springboard for so many peoples’ success on both the creative and business side of our industry. He was a great teacher and friend.

John Dittmar

Trying to put into words the beauty that was Ian is like trying to describe music. He was always kind, humble, funny, sincere. You can attempt to put him into words, but you really need to have experienced him for yourself to truly understand. Everyone who knew Ian knows what I mean. “Le Roi,” as his close friends called him, was indeed the king. We will miss him dearly.

Brent Smith

Ian Copeland was one very special human being. His generosity and friendship was enjoyed by many, many people. It is fair to say that when Ian changed the face of how music was seen and presented, he shared his vision with us all. I, for one, can honestly say I would not be where I am today without his guidance, honesty and great sense of loyalty. My mind reels with the many stories one could tell. God bless you, Leroy, and we will meet again one day!

Michael Chugg

When Ian was at FBI, he totally changed the landscape of music in the U.S. and made an enormous impact on the entire industry. That can be said of very few people. What’s even more unusual about Ian is that we are an industry in which, whenever we get together, people tend to look around the room to see if there’s somebody more important than the person they’re talking to. Ian was just as interested in listening to somebody who was a high school student as he was to somebody who considered himself very important in our business. Ian was always ahead of the curve – he didn’t follow other people. When you look at some of the people that he hired, important players in this industry, you realize what a keen eye for talent, both musically and in terms of people with very long careers in our business, Ian had.

Gregg Perloff

Besides all of his amazing human characteristics, when Ian first came here he developed systems of touring that previously had not existed. When he couldn’t get his acts booked with the existing network of promoters, in some places he went out and created a new breed of promoter. As the business continued and his acts got bigger, Ian gave opportunities to people like myself who were not major promoters. We were guys who had done club shows and Ian allowed us to grow with his acts. He saw things in that group of people that no one else saw, I can tell you that. All the big agents wouldn’t sell to the people I’m talking about. A lot of this group of people are now our industry leaders.

Andy Hewitt

Ian Copeland was truly a great guy who went out of his way to try to make his deals fair to all sides involved and he always did it with a smile on his face, even if he was yelling at you. Our industry has lost one of the real originals. I had the pleasure of working with him on both sides of the fence as he represented acts for me as an agent and I also had the pleasure of promoting a number of his artists. We had a mutual trust and always had a great time together. Rock on Le Roy.

Charlie Brusco

This is one of the saddest days of my life. I loved Ian Copeland. He was a true friend and a gentleman. He loved me. We were friends. To be a friend of this man is a very meaningful thing in our lives. He was always there for me and I suspect he always will be. But I will miss him as he will truly be missed, more than he ever knew. I hope he believed me as I spoke to him during this recent hard time he went through. All I can add is I hope everyone will get themselves checked for this monster that took my friend all too soon, as I am living proof that it can be defeated, and we can live on. Long live Leroy, with all my love, admiration and respect.

Danny Zelisko

Ian Copeland was a one of a kind and a major role model for me as I was entering the business. The legacy he created and spirit he lived embodies rock and roll. Hope I have half as much fun as he had by the time I go.

Marc Geiger

I can honestly say that I owe my career to Ian Copeland. This guy represented everything that was alternative and independent. He refused to even consider the notion that one must submit to any of the expected pomposity that comes from those who wish to pretend that we’re doing something other than booking a rock concert. I was spoiled early. He put me in business and I assumed everyone was going to be that nice and normal. Isn’t that a laugh? How lucky we all were to be touched by him.

Seth Hurwitz

Ian and I started out in the U.K. agency business around the same time. Out of all the people I’ve met in the industry since, he was one of my favourite characters – in spite of the fact that he was always much better at the job than me, more good looking and far richer. I hadn’t seen him for ages (last time was a few years ago in London at the ILMC when he was thrashing me at table football, and I kept him up all night until I’d drawn level), but I’m going to miss knowing that he’s on the planet. I know that many people in the music business over here are going to be affected by this news. My respects to Ian’s family. I think you were lucky to have been so close to him.

Martin Hopewell

Ian was a unique, vibrant and colourful person. He was also an excellent agent with whom I had the pleasure of working with at JSE and Nems before he moved to America. I have to admit that I was secretly glad to see him go as he constantly beat me at backgammon, which lost me a lot of money. We continued to work together over the years through our close association with Sting. Above all else, Ian made a lot of people laugh and he will be sorely missed.

Phil Banfield

Ian was the first person to help me in America, the first person I knew to have a water bed, and a good guy. Tragic.

John Giddings

Ian Copeland was truly one of the good guys in this business and in life. In business, he was an innovator, helped many of us get our start and was always there to help. As a friend, he was a joy to be with and always watched your back. A better friend a man cannot have. It was a gift and an honor to have had Ian Copeland as a friend.

Phil Rodriguez

Ian had a great ability to deal with one and all with respect and at the same time with a grin, and make every moment lighthearted. Ian was a special, one-of-a-kind guy whom I had the pleasure of knowing, and being a friend of and doing business with, for decades. He will be missed. We all have lost one of the special guys in our business and a great friend to all who knew him.

Jon Stoll

My business would never have become what it did had Ian not been the maverick he was. His passion for life, music, love, were always worn boldly in his eyes and his laughter. He found kindred souls who became brothers in arms – Buck, Huie, Rick, Danny, John, Steve, Brent – dedicated to turning the world on to this amazing era of music. A lot of us owe Ian a huge debt, as well as the other FBI’s from the early ’80s. I’ll miss shooting the breeze at his desk long after work hours.

Bill Silva

He was the friendliest, most gregarious, smiling, loved-everybody kind of guy that you would ever meet. I met Ian 30 years ago and said, “You should come work for me. I want you to sign some bands. You find the bands I don’t know about.” I think the big agencies were telling him, “We’ll train you by letting you book Montana, but don’t think about signing anybody.” Of course, our view was completely different. I threw him in the deep water and he swam like a fish. Ian accomplished a lot of the things in life he wanted to accomplish. He was never one to complain. He had such a bright outlook about life; he was an inspiring person. I never took him up on that airplane ride – he became a pilot and had a plane for a while. He really enjoyed it. But that’s one thing we didn’t do together.

Alex Hodges

I first met Ian circa 1971 when he joined a small agency in London where I was learning the game, right after his stint in Vietnam. He was the best of my “trainees.” Together we had the most fun time. Every day was dedicated to having the maximum number of laughs we could manage even though we weren’t making any money! Eventually, after an enormous struggle on my part, Ian became a fine agent and he never lost that sense of humour. Just a great bloke. I loved him. And he had the best pot.

Ed Bicknell

Ian was the greatest influence in my adolescent entertainment business life. He had this enormous passion, great heart and spontaneity. With that I would love to quote the great author Douglas Adams, of something that reminds me of Ian: “Flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.”

Vince Bannon