Respected French concert promoter Gérard Drouot died Monday from leukemia at the age of 69, according to his company Gérard Drouot Productions (GDP). With more than 40 years of experience, Drouot brought major acts including Ray Charles, Elton John and The Rolling Stones to France.
“His reputation around the world was matched only by his professionalism and his passion for live music,” the production company and Drouot’s son Matthieu said in a statement posted on social media. “We will never forget his selflessness, his advice and he is leaving much too soon.”
Drouot found his love for music when he first heard The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and dropped out of medical school to launch a career in live music. He organized his first events in 1974 and never looked back, according to his company. Drouot organized his first events in eastern France, most notably the Nico and Tangerine Dream concert at Reims Cathedral in 1974. The event, which occurred with the support of Richard Branson and his newly formed Virgin Records, drew 5,000 attendees and was broadcast on French radio, according to a 2017 Rock at Night interview with the promoter.
From 1977 to 1986, Drouot worked at the Harry Lapp Organization in Strasbourg before launching GDP in 1986. Throughout his career, Drouot has worked with AC/DC, ZZ Top, Bruce Springsteen, Joan Baez, U2 and Lenny Kravitz.
Acknowledging the passing of his longtime friend, Kravitz took to Twitter to appreciate the time he spent with Drouot, including learning about “the world of fine French cuisine & wine, which we enjoyed over the years.” Kravitz added that Drouot “has been my friend & promoter in France from the beginning of my career until now has made his transition. He believed in me from the very start & was a wonderful guy with a wicked sense of humor. He was a true music lover & lived his passion.”
Drouot also worked with Leonard Cohen throughout the musician’s career beginning in 1976, according to Le Parisien. Between 2008 and 2013, Cohen returned to the stage, with Drouot booking 24 shows for the musician.
Fellow French producer Valéry Zeitoun paid tribute to Drouot and his family on social media, stating, “our profession has lost a very great producer.”
Drouot has also promoted events such as the 40th and 50th-anniversary celebrations of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at Bercy, co-organized with Amnesty International in 1988 and 1998 in Paris.
Drouot’s son Matthieu joined his father’s independent promotion company in 2008 and continues the family legacy to this day.