Death of music promoter and manager Brian De Courcy
Veteran concert promoter and artist manager Brian de Courcy has died in Melbourne after a battle with non-COVID pneumonia.
In the mid-1960s, when 17-year-old Michael Chugg arrived from Tasmania to break into the music business, de Courcy was booking dances at 40 clubs across Melbourne and managing top artists such as Merv Benton and the Outsiders .
de Courcy had previously worked as a minor at an advertising agency (cheating on his parents by leaving home in his school uniform) and had once been fired from a radio station for playing black music against his format .
He had then begun to build what was to become one of the largest private collections of vinyl records, comic books and film memorabilia.
Over the weekend, Chugg told TIO that de Courcy was “an original and one of a kind.”
“He was an amazing musician and introduced me to a lot of great bands and music.”
Like many promoters of the time, de Courcy, always impeccably dressed, was a showman, attracted by the epic and excess, and fond of his sense of the theater.
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He was the one who suggested that the Sunbury Festival deliver the unknown queen – who got bottled up by bikers while the crowd yelled “F– off, Pommies!”
He was behind Frank Sinatra’s infamous 1974 tour when the singer called a reporter a “two-bit prostitute.”
Unions stopped food, drink and housekeeping services in his hotel room in Sydney, and his plane from being refueled so he could leave Australia.
When asked by an ABC TV crew about Frankie’s violent reputation, the de Courcy bottom stared at the camera: “I’ve run over a reporter myself, and you’ve probably run over someone too.”
In the 2003 film about this tour, “The Night We Called It A Day”, Joel Edgerton played Rod Blue, a character based on de Courcy.
In the film, Blue flies to Los Angeles to introduce Sinatra’s manager stating what his music means to him personally.
The singer surprises, takes a liking to the nerve of the child and accepts.
The Australian promoter was also mentioned in Alan Clayson’s book ‘John Lennon’ when the Beatles recalled meeting him backstage at Melbourne Festival Hall when they visited in 1964.
“He shook hands like a fucking bear,” adding that he could tell “he wasn’t a ***.”
Other projects Courcy initiated, or was part of, included the It’s A Long Way To The Top tour, the 1988 World’s Fair, and the famine charity shows EAT (East Africa Tragedy), Oz For Africa and the Australian leg of Live Aid. .
Because of the charity shows, then Prime Minister Bob Hawke wanted to reward him with a gong on the Queen’s Birthday Honors List.
De Courcy replied, “Sorry, Bob, I’m not volunteering for these things to get an award from the Royal Family, or anyone else for that matter.”
In the United States, he worked on the 20th anniversary of the Monterey Pop Festival, the Jerry Lee Lewis biopic “Great Balls Of Fire” and one of California Governor Jerry Brown’s three presidential campaigns.
He also represented the Australian rights to the estate of Elvis Presley, as well as those of Marilyn Monroe and James Dean.
He has also cared for media personalities such as Molly Meldrum, Gavin Wood, Garry McDonald/Norman Gunston, Barry Humphries, Jennifer Keyte and Denise Drysdale.
Wood, then radio presenter and voice of Countdown, believes that de Courcy’s success is based on two elements.
“A knowledge of pop culture that was impressive and a gift to see the future,” Wood said. OTI exclusively on weekends.
“I’ve always said Brian has a great phone. His big voice could convince anyone on the other end of the line to believe in him.
“He was a visionary from the sixties until the end of his colorful life.
“We have lost another music industry pioneer.”
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