2020 In Memoriam: Those We Lost

The loss of so many people who touched the live business was especially acute in this most difficult year where each passing seemed yet another body blow we somehow had to absorb. This is a collection of just some of the prominent passings this year, which includes legendary artists, industry professionals and still others who have all left their mark on the world (listed in chronological order). 

Neil Peart
Clayton Call / Redferns
– Neil Peart

Neil Peart

The masterful Rush drummer was a mainstay in a power trio that was also mighty on the road, culminating with the band’s final tour in 2015, which grossed $37.8 million on 35 shows, good for No. 42 on Pollstar’s Top 100 Worldwide tours that year.
Wes Wilson, ’60s-’70s concert poster artist.
Bob Shane, Kingston Trio singer/guitarist/co-founder.

Andy Gill, Gang of Four lead guitarist and co-founder.

Andrew Weatherall, electronic artist and DJ.

Pop Smoke, hip-hop artist.
Mike Thrasher

Mike Thrasher
– Mike Thrasher

Mike Thrasher Presents helped put Portland, Ore., on the map for rock, punk and rap shows starting in 1994, a booking destination for bands in the Northwest. He was the first to bring artists including The Killers and The White Stripes to Portland, among others. He expanded into Seattle, and in 2005 acquired Portland’s Hawthorne Theatre, which became a prominent all-ages club.
McCoy Tyner, pianist and solo artist who worked with John Coltrane.

Genesis P-Orridge, artist who collaborated with Psychic TV,  Throbbing Gristle and Pig Face, among others.

According to Pollstar Boxoffice reports, Rogers had 1,294 plays and 390 reports between Feb 28, 1999, and Dec 10, 2017, selling some 1.05 million tickets on his way to grossing $47.6 million. The Gambler was a household name and influence to generations of musicians.
Jan Howard, chart-topping country artist and Grand Ole Opry member. 

Joe Diffie, ’90s country star and  “Pickup Man.”

Bill Withers
Gilles Petard / Redferns
– Bill Withers

Bill Withers 

Bill Withers’ string ‘70s soulful hits have stood the test of time, with timeless classics like “Lean on Me, ” “Lovely Day” and “Ain’t No Sunshine” sure to last in perpetuity. The singer stopped making music in the mid-1980s, although his death came as many drew inspiration from his music during the pandemic.
Adam Schlesinger, Fountains of Wayne co-founder and songwriter. 

Universally lauded as a genre-defining Americana songwriters and performer, Prine has reported average ticket sales of 2,414 and gross of $178,212 in addition to hosting the “All The Best Festival” in the Dominican Republic and being a staple of festivals including Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Telluride Folk Festival, Newport Folk, Americana MusicFest, and Merle Fest. Prine has also been a favorite of the Ryman Auditorium, where he sold out a New Year’s Eve show with Marty Stuart and The Secret Sisters, moving 4,244 tickets and grossing $595,563. Prior to that, his Oct. 5-6, 2018 landmark performances also sold out, with 4,555 tickets grossing $426,370.
Hal Wilner, music, TV, film producer, “SNL.” 

Florian Schneider-Esleben, founding member and leader of electronic pioneers Kraftwerk.

Tony Oladipo Allen, drummer, composer, songwriter and musical director of Fela Kuti’s Africa.

Little Richard, Rock ‘n’ Roll pioneer. 

Little Richard
Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images
– Little Richard

“There was a lot of jockeying for first place, you might say, between Little Richard and James Brown,” former Little Richard agent Jack Bart told Pollstar. “They were quite friendly towards each other, and they were always jostling each other for who was the better entertainer of the two of them. It was all in good fun.”

Bonnie Pointer, member of R&B group The Pointer Sisters.
Ennio Morricone, noted film composer, defining the “Spaghetti Western” soundtrack.
Four of the top five Charlie Daniels Band headlining grosses came from his long-running Volunteer Jam, including the Charlie Daniels 80th Birthday Volunteer Jam, Nov. 30, 2016 in Nashville,  which drew 17,007 fans and included Chris Stapleton, Kid Rock and Luke Bryan. The performance grossed $657,921 and followed Daniels’ induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame just six weeks earlier.
Mitch Slater partnered with Ron Delsener to form Delsener / Slater Presents in 1988 before the company was acquired by SFX Entertainment in 1996, and later acquired Metropolitan Entertainment Group. Slater became a key figure at the core of SFX Entertainment’s business, being elevated to executive vice president and continuing to work with SFX head Robert Sillerman after he sold his business to Clear Channel Entertainment, the precursor company to what is now Live Nation. 

Lori Tierney
Shelby Cude
– Lori Tierney

Lori Tierney, production manager.

Lori Tierney was a beloved figure in the tour production world who left a lasting impact on the way business is conducted and the charitable aspects of the live industry. Her friends and family remember her most of all for her depth of character. Tierney, 58, died after a long battle with cancer on July 24 at her home in Denver. 
Peter Green, Fleetwood Mac founder. 
Malik B., founding member of The Roots.
Kimberly Kennedy, Audio Engineer and Tour Manager. 
Dan Parise, event producer.

A celebrated songwriter and son of folk artist Steve Earle, Justin Townes Earle was a road warrior, most often playing smaller roots-friendly clubs including various City Winery, House of Blues, and other clubs and heritage venues including the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Over his shows reported to Pollstar, he moved a career total of more than  60,000 tickets and grossed nearly $1.5 million as a headliner, but also played numerous festivals including Stagecoach, Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, UK’s Glastonbury and many others.  He was touring in support of a new record when COVID-19 put a halt to live concerts. 
Riley Gale, singer of rising American metal band power Trip.
Toots Hibbert

Toots Hibbert
Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images
– Toots Hibbert

The Jamaican musical icon and leader of Toots and The Maytals is said to have coined the term “reggae” with the 1968 track “Do The Reggay,” and pioneered a genre that endures across the world today. Hibbert was active on the road to the end, delivering energetic headlining and festival performances before his passing at age 77.
Mac Davis, country music singer, songwriter, and actor who wrote songs for Elvis Presley.
The guitar virtuoso and chief songwriter led one of the most popular and influential bands in modern rock, which, since Pollstar’s formation in the early ’80s, grossed more than $320 million on 8.6 million tickets sold. 
Spencer Davis, whose Spencer Davis Group had ’60s hits including “Gimme Some Lovin’.” 

Pierre Kezdy,  bassist for Chicago punk band Naked Raygun.

Dick Alen – Dick Alen

Jerry Jeff Walker, outlaw country artist known for writing the 1968 song “Mr. Bojangles.”

Billy Joe Shaver, seminal outlaw country artist and songwriter. 

King Von, Chicago hip-hop artist signed to Lil Durk’s label. 

Dick Alen, WME, UAA agent who had lifelong relationships with artists including Little Richard and Chuck Berry. 

Charley Pride, Country Singer.