Shelley Lazar, VIP Veteran and Ticketing's 'MFTQ,' Passes Away at 69
Shelley Lazar, the president of SLO VIP Ticket Services and a longtime veteran in the VIP ticketing space with four decades of experience dating back to her work with legendary promoter Bill Graham, passed away Sunday morning (March 31) after a battle with cancer. She was 69.
Lazar worked on hundreds of tours for artists including the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Lady Gaga, creating once-in-a-lifetime experiences for fans and going beyond the rock world to work with two popes (Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict), President Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama.
Known to her friends as "the MFTQ" — that's Mothaf---ing Ticketing Queen for the uninitiated — Lazar began working part-time in music in the early '70s as Manhattan's keeper of guest lists by night (by day she was a school teacher whose students included Chris Rock).
"Lazar had established herself as the New York City point of contact for beleaguered road managers eager to turn over their collection of used matchbooks, torn hotel stationary, wrinkled business cards and other detritus covered with hastily scribbled names," according to Ticket Masters, the 2012 book by Dean Budnick and Josh Baron.
Lazar handled ticketing for Bill Graham's Fillmore East and New York promoter Ron Delsner, and often handled backstage catering — Billy Joel was a big fan of her sweet and sour meatballs, according to the book. In 1989, she teamed up with promoter Michael Cohl to create travel packages for fans, and then in 1991, Lazar was hired as vp of artist relations for Bill Graham Presents, joining the San Francisco promotion company the same year its founder died in a helicopter accident.
She set out on her own in 2002, creating SLO Limited which she built it into one of live music’s most successful VIP ticketing providers, selling her company in 2008 to Ticketmaster where she had worked until becoming ill.
Lazar also sat on the board of the Bill Graham Memorial Foundation, Little Rock Kids, the Taylor Family Foundation, Tipping Point Community, Human Rights Watch and the Elton John AIDS Foundation and served as co-executive producer of the award-winning documentary Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars.
After learning of her passing, friends took to Twitter to honor the MFTQ.
A wonderful & classy lady I am forever grateful to have worked for, passed away last night. I will never forget what I learned working alongside her. And thanks to her I got to work for my heroes such McCartney, Sting and Dylan. Shelley Lazar will 4ever be the queen of Tickets! pic.twitter.com/WB28tUy6gA— Lily Cat (@Violetworld) March 31, 2019
So sad, the world’s dear friend and my dear friend Shelley Lazar has passed away.— brad wavra (@bradwavra) March 31, 2019
A memorial service has yet to be announced for Lazar. Billboard will update this article when more details are available.