Nick Alexander worked as a concert merchandise manager but he dressed like a rock star. In a job that’s done far from the spotlight, Alexander made such an impression on bands like Sum 41 and Alice in Chains that tributes started pouring in as soon as he was identified among the victims of the attack at Le Bataclan.
“You don’t remember everyone,” says Jim Runge, a tour manager for The Black Keys, “but you remembered him.”
Nicknamed “Handsome Nick,” Alexander took his share of ribbing for wearing skinny jeans, boots and his beloved black leather jacket — whatever the occasion or the weather. “We were at a dusty English festival, and Nick walked in with thin jeans, English boots and perfect hair when everyone else was wearing Converse and shorts,” remembers Runge. “When my son met Nick, he thought he was a member of Oasis.”
Alexander, 36, grew up in Colchester in Essex, England, and worked as teenager selling programs at music festivals. “Most kids just wanted to go in and see the bands,” says his sister Zoe, “but Nick was precise and professional, selling as many as he could and handing in exact change, with everything accounted for.” In his 20s, Alexander ran club nights at the Colchester Arts Centre and a local bar, then began working as a merchandise manager at European concerts, starting with a Jesse Malin U.K. tour. He lived in London’s Notting Hill, but he spent most of his time on one tour bus or another. “Touring,” says Zoe, “became the fabric of his life.”
Work was fun, too. On a 2013 Sum 41 tour, the band arrived in Fargo, N.D., for a concert, only to realize that Alexander wasn’t on the tour bus. “He had gone out in Winnipeg, and he was still at a bar,” remembers Sum 41 bassist Cone McCaslin. “He took a taxi — it was four hours — and made the show.”
Sum 41 liked Alexander so much that the band hired him in North America – and invited his girlfriend, Polina Buckley, on tour for a few days. “He wasn’t just selling shirts for us,” says Sum 41 singer Deryck Whibley. “He was part of the whole thing.”
In Paris, Alexander went to Le Bataclan that night with Helen Wilson, an ex-girlfriend. As usual, he was behind the Eagles of Death Metal merchandise table, clad in skinny jeans and his leather jacket. “If there was any glamour in that job,” says Alice in Chains frontman William DuVall, “it was because Nick added it.”