The Year In In Memoriam
Ezra Shaw/Getty Imges – Shelley Lazar In Memoriam
Robert F.X. Sillerman’s death Dec. 1 marked the passage of a life the concert industry will not soon forget. The “Rollup King” leaves an indelible tattoo on an industry that had once been the domain of “pirates” who controlled their territories, building the foundation for what is now Live Nation and a global industry of seasoned professionals.
The year saw the losses of many unforgettable characters, including The MFTQ, Shelley Lazar, who nearly single-handedly created the VIP ticket experience over the years with Bill Graham Presents, SLO Ticketing, and Live Nation. “For an entire generation of artists (and people in the business) she was the master of the ticketing world. Beyond all that, she was a great person,” Live Nation Global Touring’s Arthur Fogel said of Lazar, who died March 31 after battling cancer.
Elliot Roberts led Lookout Management and, previously, Geffen-Roberts Company, and was the longtime manager of Neil Young and Stephen Stills, as well as other Laurel Canyon-identified artists, including Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, the Eagles, Tom Petty, Tracy Chapman, and Devendra Banhart. “All the words in the world could not express my sense of love and thanks to Elliot Rabinowitz and his beautiful family, who adored him,” wrote Young.
Mike Belkin, a pioneer of concert promotion in the Upper Midwest, died of complications of Alzheimer’s disease as reported June 26. Along with his brother, Jules, Mike co-founded Belkin Productions in Cleveland, Ohio. He also managed artists like The Michael Stanley Band and Donnie Iris. “Cleveland has lost a man who infused its soul with electricity, music, reasons to believe, to buy in, to forge on. He is a major reason it is considered ‘The Rock & Roll Capitol of the World,’ Pollstar contributor Holly Gleason wrote at the time of his death.
Jim Rismiller, a co-founder of L.A. concert promotion pioneer Wolf & Rismiller Presents, died in Cleveland April 3 of a stroke. He first formed Concert Associates with partners Bob Eubanks and Steve Wolf. But it was Wolf & Rismiller that ushered the age of arena rock into Southern California, primarily at the Forum in Inglewood and notably at nearby Anaheim Stadium. “He was really one of the founding fathers of live music presentation in the Los Angeles area,” retired AEG exec and onetime Wolf & Rismiller junior partner Larry Vallon told the Los Angeles Times.
Chuck La Vallee was the head of business development at StubHub at the time of his death from liver cancer March 22, but had developed relationships long before that as a club owner, artist manager and agent for William Morris on and off in the 1990s and 2000s. He was talent buyer and operator of L.A.’s Dragonfly Nightclub before opening his own shop, Chuck La Vallee Management. He also spent time with Metropolitan Entertainment where he helped book Woodstock ’99.
Phillip Kovac, a longtime concert promoter, transportation executive and artist manager died in Los Angeles of a rare form of Parkinson’s disease. He began his career in the early 1970s as a cofounder of TDA Productions. By the mid-‘90s, Kovac moved into artist management, founding Left Bank Nashville, moving back to L.A. in the early 2000s, heading the touring division of Tenth Street Management with clients Mötley Crüe, Blondie, Papa Roach, and Yes.
While Alan B. Krueger never booked a show or managed an artist, his contribution to the concert industry was no less important. A popular speaker first at the Concert Industry Consortium and then Pollstar Live!, Krueger was the James Madison Professor of Political Economy at Princeton University and author of “Rockonomics: What the Music Industry Can Teach Us About Economics and Life” that was published shortly after his death March 16. He was a founder of the Music Industry Research Association, which he founded in 2017, and between conducting research on concert ticket pricing and the secondary market and providing results to the industry, the lifelong Springsteen fan served as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama.