Jim Aiken Dies

The international live music business is learning of the death of 74-year-old Jim Aiken, who was regarded by many as the founding father of the Irish contemporary live music business.

He was recently diagnosed with cancer and died at his South Belfast home on February 27th.

Niall Stokes, editor of Hot Press, described him as a towering figure in Irish music.

Denis Desmond of Dublin-based MCD, Aiken’s much younger rival in the Irish concert business, described it as very sad news and told Pollstar: "Jim was an inspiration. He set the standard for concert promotion in Ireland and was always the perfect gentleman."

Such is his standing in Ireland that, according to national news wires, President Mary McAleese made a private visit to his house on February 22nd, breaking off from a number of official engagements in the city.

On learning of his death, she described him as hugely talented entrepreneur who, for decades, had provided rich entertainment to music lovers throughout Ireland.

Local South Belfast MP Alasdair McDonnell (SDL Party) said he was one of the most influential people in the Irish music industry.

Even during the troubles, he brought such big international acts as Neil Diamond and Charlie Pride to Ireland.

Elton John, Luciano Pavarotti, Bruce Springsteen, Sir Cliff Richard and Michael Flatley figure on the list of talent that he promoted in Ireland.

"Riverdance" star Flatley has paid tribute, saying, "Jim was just a straight shooter. He was like a father figure to me – I loved that man."

Aiken also pioneered outdoor shows at Stormont Castle, Belfast, home of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

He’s survived by his wife, son Peter (who runs the family’s venue and promoting business), four daughters and 11 grandchildren.

At press time, details of funeral arrangements were still to be announced.