‘A Giant Of The Music Industry:’ Former U2 Booking Agent Dave Kavanagh Dies

Dave Kavanagh, U2’s first booking agent, former manager of Clannad and creative mind behind Celtic Woman, passed away April 6 in Dublin, Ireland.

Dave Kavanagh
Liffey Records/Celtic Collections
– Dave Kavanagh
U2’s first booking agent passed away on April 6, at the age of 62

Kavanagh was born in Dublin. He went to school and college in the Irish capital, and became Ents Officer at University College Dublin. After college, he set up his own agency by the name of Roadrunner in 1978, representing U2, The Boomtown Rats, Christy Moore, The Chieftains and Thin Lizzy.

He started managing Clannad in 1982, overseeing their international career. “Over the next 14 years the band won BAFTA, Grammy and Billboard Music awards and achieved platinum sales in many countries including USA, UK, Australia and Germany,” his biography states.

Kavanagh co-founded the label Celtic Heartbeat together with U2 manager Paul McGuinness in 1994, which promoted and released many Irish artists in the U.S. It’s most notable success came in form of the Riverdance album, which won a Grammy in 1997. Celtic Heartbeat was later acquired by Universal Records.

Kavanagh launched his own label Liffey Records in 2001, which acquired the Celtic Collections label in 2004. Celtic Collections in the largest Irish independent record company, selling Irish records worldwide.

The label’s roster includes Celtic Woman, which was co-conceived by Kavanagh in 2004, The High Kings, The Fureys, The Wolfe Tones, Clannad and The Dubliners.

Kavanagh executive produced Celtic Woman since its conception, alongside Universal Music Group’s Capitol Music Group, which is a partner in the project. Celtic Woman has sold over 10 million CDs and DVDs and more than 4 million concert tickets, according to Kavanagh’s bio, which was released by Liffey Records and Celtic Collections, alongside the following obituary:

“It is with great sadness we share the news that our Chairman and Chief Executive Dave Kavanagh passed away peacefully this morning at Blackrock Clinic. Dave will be sorely missed by his wife Rhona, his son Luke and daughter Phoebe, his family, all those who work with him at the labels, the artists and his many friends both within and outside the music industry worldwide.

“Dave was a giant of the music industry with a massive life long love for it. The industry will be a lesser place without him.

“From being U2’s first booking agent to managing Clannad to global success throughout the Eighties and then bringing the musical phenomenon Celtic Woman to huge International success and launching the career of The High Kings amongst many others. He has been at the helm of the Celtic Collections record label since 2004 bringing great Irish Music to an audience around the world.”

Kavanagh was 62 when he died, after living with cancer for several years. U2’s Bono and Edge attended his funeral in Dublin, where they reportedly performed “Love Is All We Have Left,” off their current album Songs of Experience.