Annie O’Toole, a music industry veteran who began her career as a cocktail waitress at San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall but moved up quickly as a talent buyer and eventually as a top executive with Sunshine Promotions and Live-360, died Nov. 26 in Greenville, Tennessee, after a brief illness at age 66.
As a talent buyer, O’Toole showcased established artists alongside unknown talent. Artists she booked in San Francisco include Ani DiFranco, Jeff Buckley with Soul Coughing opening, Cibo Matto, Guided by Voices, Pavement, Tuck & Patti, Jimmy Scott, Maceo Parker, Jane Siberry and George Winston. .
After leaving the Great American in 1998, Annie quickly found her footing in Indianapolis with Dave Lucas at Sunshine Promotions, where she booked The Murat Theater, Circle Fest, and Rib Fest as well as other festivals throughout the city.
Rising through the ranks of Sunshine, Annie was promoted to Senior Vice President of Booking in 2000. Her responsibilities included major arenas and amphitheaters throughout the region, negotiating contracts, while overseeing production, marketing & ticketing. When Live Nation bought out the company in 2001 she shifted gears to St. Louis where she was President and Area Manager, responsible for 40-plus employees, a satellite office in Kansas City and multiple touring properties in the Central Territories.
When Lucas was able to restart his business as Live-360 in 2006, Anne rejoined him in Indianapolis, working as Senior Vice President of booking through 2015.
In addition to booking a growing number of venues in the Midwest, where she thrived, O’Toole also raised animals on a farm outside Indianapolis – taking her beloved border collie Roy and training him as an award-winning champion of sheepdog trials and agility competitions. She quickly established a second career training her own growing family of dogs as well as those of others. On weekends she would tour with her dogs, competing throughout the Midwest. Roy and his descendants were among the most decorated members of the border collie community.
“[Annie] brought the same commitment to the world of dog training that she espoused in the music industry,” her friends and family said in a statement. “A highly accomplished professional, she managed complex projects and exceeded expectations by building lasting relationships, and applying skills from all aspects of her life to diverse environments. When all else failed her unforgettable, infectious laugh saved the day.”
Her days as a consultant began with Soundslinger, initiating the first incarnation of the Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival. As Vice President of Artist and Vendor relations, she was “a whip-smart and fierce negotiator. She never suffered fools gladly but was a mentor to all, a loyal friend who supported and defended her crew with a critical ear or cocktail as needed.”
O’Toole is survived by sisters Mary and Judy, and brother John and their spouses. In honor of Annie O’Toole during the holidays, her family suggests donations to animal or music charities of choice. Services are pending.