Fugitive Promoter Behind Roadie Rows

While the South African live music business seeks to resolve the crew issues that have blighted it for months, Pollstar has learned that one of those running the roadies’ association accusing major companies of racism is one-time fugitive promoter Graeme Gilfillan.

Gilfillan, a South African who allegedly fled Singapore and his creditors in January 1993, denies he’s the author of the often inflammatory press releases that are regularly circulated by the South African Roadies Association.

“This office deals with SARA’s business affairs, not its public relations,” he said.

In 1993 Gilfillan reportedly left Singapore on a flight to Johannesburg after his promoting company Myriad Asia lost an estimated $190,000 on shows by Lisa Stansfield and Roberta Flack.

“He ran away out of fear,” Patrick MacMahon – one of Gilfillan’s investors – told Applause, a music trade magazine of that time.
Gilfillan previously wrote for the magazine and joined its advertising team.

“I genuinely believe Gilfillan never meant to do anything but make us money, but any credibility he had has been eroded,” MacMahon explained. “We want to make sure he never does business in this industry again.”

Gilfillan’s creditors reportedly included sound, lighting and limo hire companies, hotels and Myriad staff. MacMahon said he personally lost £40,000.

SARA has frequently castigated companies including promoter Big Concerts, equipment supplier Gearhouse, and labour broker Running Crew for not giving work to its members.

All three companies have said their decision not to use SARA crew is not based on racist grounds, pointing out that well over half of their workers on any given show day are non-white.

All parties have agreed to “a pause period” following the various open letters that have been circulated to the SA live music industry and the media.

The South African wing of the Technical Production Services Association, SARA, and the Black Management Forum (BMF) met Feb. 15 to discuss the development of a platform for skills transfer and development in the technical production industry.

Future discussions will likely include the Department of Trade & Industry.

Big Concerts chief ops officer John Langford says 2010 was the best year the company has had in the last 20.

He puts the bumper year down to the World Cup soccer stadiums opening up new business opportunities for outdoor shows, the availability of top talent, and social media revolutionising the company’s ability to connect with music fans.