Tributes To Flemming Schmidt

Tributes have poured into Pollstar’s office following the death of Danish music promoter Flemming Schmidt.

While Europe was mourning the loss of one of its more gregarious promoters, friends and colleagues paid tribute to his character and achievements – and his particularly acerbic sense of humour.

Schmidt lost his 18-month battle against cancer and died peacefully surrounded by his family at Herlev Hospital, near Copenhagen, Feb. 16. He was 63.

He was one of Europe’s original promoters, teaming with the now retired Steen Mariboe to establish the Copenhagen-based Danish Koncert Bureau – later DKB Concertpromotion – in the early ’70s.

He had arrived in Copenhagen during the youth rebellion of the late ’60s, after growing up on his parents’ farm at in Aagaard. The farming background was what led him to compete in Denmark’s tractor-drawn ploughing championship.
Once in the Danish capital, he worked as a beer deliveryman for Tuborg brewery in the mornings and then worked at a concert agency later in the day.

In 2000, DKB and Norway’s Gunnar Eide Concerts were bought by Sweden’s EMA Telstar, which was already owned by the US-based SFX Entertainment.

“After the takeover, Flemming Schmidt remained in his chair. No one could fill it like him,” said the obituary in Danish newspaper Politiken.

EMA’s subsequent purchase of Finland’s WellDone Agency in 2002 completed what has now become Live Nation’s Nordic hub.

Meanwhile, Schmidt and what’s now Live Nation Denmark was promoting the vast majority of the top talent visiting the country.

“I’ve lost someone who has been a real friend for the best part of 40 years,” LN chairman of live music Thomas Johansson told Pollstar. “He always looked on the bright side of life and always took a positive approach. Whenever you spoke to Flemming, you could be sure he’d make you laugh before the conversation finished.”

Solo Agency chief John Giddings called Schmidt “One of the best guys. He helped create the business of today. A great man. Sadly missed.”

Rune Lem from Live Nation Norway, who’d worked with Schmidt since 1994, described him as “hardworking, ambitious, trustworthy and a really good friend.”

“You always knew where you stood with Flemming. If he disagreed with you, he’d do it to your face. I even got to enjoy his arrogance,” Lem said. “If you can spend 40 years at the top in this game, then you deserve to be remembered.”
“He was always one of the more vocal of the European promoters,” said LN UK chief exec Paul Latham. “My favourite memory of him was the first year he did his Copenhell metal festival and as part of the marketing they did a deal with a brewery to produce a special Copenhell beer at 6.66 percent ABV.

“He sent me several cans and very tasty they were too … he knew the way to my heart. Big character, bigger loss,” Latham added.

“Lighter moments are few and far between in the current world we work in,” said Ian Huffam of X-Ray Touring, who worked with Schmidt on such acts as Robbie Williams, Blur, Gorillaz, and Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds. “Dealing with Flemming always had its humorous interludes and he was a pleasure to work with. Live music is a poorer place without him.”

“Devastated about the news,” said Leon Ramakers from Holland’s Mojo Concerts, another promoter who was among the first to sell to SFX. “I called him three or four times in the last few months and if I wanted to hint towards his health situation, he always immediately changed the subject.

“Of the Danish duo Steen Maribo and Flemming Schmidt: one disappeared from the business, the other now passed away. Very sad,” Ramakers said.

“We and the music industry have lost a dear friend and one of the truly inspiring international  promoters, “ said German promoter Marek Lieberberg, who worked with Schmidt on acts including Leonard Cohen. Schmidt managed Cohen for 15 years.

“He loved and knew what he was doing. He spoke his mind and was never afraid to voice a critical opinion. He had a sharp tongue and was a witty colleague. We are going to miss our Danish ally,” Lieberberg added.

International Talent Booking chief Barry Dickins said: “Flemming had the driest sense of humour of anyone I have known, a great guy and a great promoter who I will miss greatly.”

Peter Jackson from Eric Clapton’s management team says he met Schmidt in Belgium in 1983, while he was working on a tour for on another of his management company’s acts, American guitarist and singer-songwriter Steve Miller.
  “It didn’t take me long to realise he was a great guy and a great promoter,” he said.

Their successful business relationship became a close friendship and Schmidt was soon organising Clapton shows in Scandinavia, The Baltics, Russia and Poland.

Another Live Nation colleague, Herman Schueremans, who runs the company’s Belgian office and its Rock Werchter Festival, recalls the time when he had a cancellation and Schmidt supplied Steve Miller as the replacement.

“Two hours prior to stage time, the security informed us there were two artists, Steve Miller and another guy. Then a beautiful American classic car, a Cadillac, a Pontiac, or something, drove in next to the stage.

“It was Flemming with a big smile and lots of humour and jokes. Since that day we were friends and kept in contact. I will miss my buddy Flemming. He was always smiling and that’s how I will always remember him,” Schueremans said.

Schmidt is the third well-known European promoter to die this year, following the passing of German promoter Henning Toegel and Montreux Jazz Festival founder Claude Nobs.

He is survived by his wife Mette and three children, Juliana, Johannes and Camilla.

The funeral will take place Tuesday Feb. 26 in Hellerup Church, Margrethevej 7B, 2900, Hellerup.