Zelisko Leaves Live Nation

Danny Zelisko, after serving for several years as chairman of Live Nation Southwest, left the company Feb. 14 and is already open for business as Danny Zelisko Presents in Phoenix.

The legendary founder of Evening Star Productions sold his company to what was then SFX in 2001, and stayed on to run his office as a unit of the company that was the predecessor to Live Nation.

“We decided to go our separate ways,” Zelisko told Pollstar. “I was at the end of my contract last year but, the bottom line is, our working arrangement is not being renewed by either of us. They’re going to do their Live Nation thing, and I’m going to do my Danny Zelisko thing.”

And he has hit the ground running with a new company. While he says he’s focused at the moment on the fundraiser at the Tucson Convention Center, he adds, “I will be making a proper announcement soon regarding new adventures. I want to thank everyone for their patience while I reorganize.”

A Chicago native and protégé of the late Bill Graham, Zelisko booked his first show in 1974: The Mahavishnu Orchestra in Tucson, Ariz. But even earlier, he worked security at the Tucson Community Center – now renamed the Tucson Convention Center.

He’s coming full circle with the first show he’ll promote under the new banner. Four days after parting ways, he announced with Jackson Browne and Alice Cooper a March 10 fundraiser at the Tucson Convention Center for the non-profit Community Foundation for Southern Arizona, benefiting the newly established Fund for Civility, Respect and Understanding.

The concert follows the January mass shooting in Tucson in which six were killed and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 12 others were left wounded.

“Jackson Browne and his management team of Budda and Cree Miller reached out to me and said that they wanted to work with Ron Barber, Gabrielle Giffords’ aide, who was also shot twice in the leg in that assault by that goofball,” Zelisko said. “He contacted Jackson’s office. And Alice Cooper himself contacted me a few days before saying, ‘Why don’t we do something down there?’

“And it all came together. Jackson went out and got a few acts – David Crosby and Graham Nash, Dar Williams, Jennifer Warnes, Calexico, Ozomatli. I reached out to Sam Moore, Roger Clyne, Nils Lofgren and others. I think we have a fantastic show and the funny thing is that in 1973, almost 38 years to the month, it’s where I worked as a security guy under Bill Graham, at Alice Cooper’s debut concert of ‘Billion Dollar Babies.’ I met Alice and Shep Gordon there and we’ve been lifelong friends. So it truly is a matter of coming full circle.”

Zelisko’s is the latest in a wave of departures from Live Nation. Avalon Attractions founder and longtime LN Southern California chairman Brian Murphy announced in January that he’d left the company to become AEG Live West president.

Zelisko founded Evening Star Productions in 1974 and quickly became the prominent concert promoter in Arizona. He sold his company to SFX, the predecessor of Live Nation, in 2001, but continued to run the Phoenix office in an independent fashion and is still synonymous with the Southwest concert scene. He also hosts a Sunday night program called “The Regular Guy Radio Show” on Phoenix radio station KDKB-FM and online.

“All I’ve ever wanted to do is put on some good shows with some great musicians and have people walk away feeling like they’re spent their time well and I think that still holds true, more than any other time in the live business,” Zelisko said. “People want to get their money’s worth and they still want to hear their music and still love coming out and seeing it together. I’m thrilled at the prospect of continuing to do what I’ve always done.”

Zelisko can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]