2019 Year-End Charts

British Concert Promoter Alan James Dies at 61

C Brandon/Redferns
General view of atmosphere during the opening day of the Womad Festival 2011 at Charlton Park on July 28, 2011 in Wiltshire, United Kingdom.

Promoter was known for his work with the Big Chill Festival & WOMAD.

Alan James, one of the early supporters of the world music festival WOMAD, died April 7 at age 61.

The news was confirmed by WOMAD in a statement, which read: "We are truly devastated to be announcing the news of the sudden death of our friend and colleague Alan James (9 April 1957-7 April 2019). Alan was an early founding member of WOMAD -- his eclectic musical taste perfectly suited the visionary ideas of the Festival’s musical programming. He was instrumental in bringing many wonderful artists to the festival. He continued his association as the announcer on the main stage -- always an erudite and humorous presence."

WOMAD -- which stands for World of Music, Arts and Dance -- is a sprawling festival co-founded in 1980 by rock icon Peter Gabriel and others to celebrate music and art from around the world at annual events in England, as well as similar fests in Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Italy, Chile and other locations. In addition to working as a promoter on WOMAD, James also worked with Gabriel's/WOMAD's Real World Records, promoting the work of Indian veena musician Gopal Shankar as well as Ananda Shankar, nephew of iconic sitar player Ravi Shankar. "We all trusted his visionary ideas -- the creative process was always the priority. We will miss him so much," read the statement from WOMAD.

According to an obituary in The Guardian, the Birmingham, England-born promoter/manager who was also associated with the Big Chill Festival and the English Folk Dance and Song Society, died of a stroke. He began booking bands during his university years, which led to a chance meeting with WOMAD co-founder Thomas Brooman, who invited James to take time off from his studies to help look after the 15-member African band the Drummers of Burundi at the first WOMAD.

That led to a larger role programming WOMAD, DJ performances and roles with a variety of arts organizations, as well as the Big Chill EDM festival and the founding in 2006 of his own tour production/management/consultancy, Hold Tight. 

“So sad to learn we have lost Alan James. He has been a part of our lives and a key ally for more years than I can remember," said Gabriel in a statement. "Since early days of WOMAD he has been working with us or alongside us, on the management production or creative side of things. So many in the field of World, contemporary or Welsh music owe Alan a great debt for the endless lengths he would go to in order to promote music and artists he believed in. His intelligence, warmth and kindness were self-evident. We will always remember his passion for all the music he touched and all the love and support he showed for those that made it."


The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to Billboard.com/business.

To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.