Rob Potts, the veteran Australian concert promoter, executive and country music champion, died last Friday afternoon (Oct. 27) in a motorcycle accident on the west coast of Tasmania. He was 65.
In an award-winning career spanning more than three decades, Rob was booking agent to the likes of Keith Urban, Tommy Emmanuel, Lee Kernaghan and James Blundell, and more recently guided the career of Warner Music Nashville signing Morgan Evans. Last year Potts launched FANGATE Music, a joint label with Sony Music Entertainment Australia as a vehicle for developing emerging local and international country acts.
As a concert promoter and CEO of Entertainment Edge, Potts toured some of the biggest U.S. country artists in his homeland, from Zac Brown Band, Brooks & Dunn, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, Alan Jackson, Florida Georgia Line, Toby Keith, Jason Aldean, Dixie Chicks and many more. In 2009, Potts brought a pre-superstar Taylor Swift to Australia for her first shows in the market.
And through his long running partnership with Michael Chugg’s Chugg Entertainment, Potts established the CMC Rocks festival brand across the CMC Rocks The Snowys, CMC Rocks The Hunter and now CMC Rocks QLD festivals, the latter of which launched in 2008 and, after many years of pursuit, announced Luke Bryan as headliner for the March 2018 edition. The upcoming CMC Rocks Qld at Willowbank, recognized as the biggest international country event in the southern hemisphere, sold-out in record time.
Potts was a longtime member of the Country Music Association (CMA) board of directors. He’s the only Australian-based member of the board and only the second Australian to have served since its formation in 1958.
In March of this year, CMA awarded Potts the Jo Walker Meador International Award, an honor which recognized his efforts in advocating and supporting country music’s development outside the U.S. Through his tenure on the CMA board, he chaired the international committee, served on the artist relations committee, awards and recognition committees and in 2004 was instrumental in establishing the CMA Australian Advisory Group (AAG)
“The CMA board and staff as well as the country music community were devastated at the news of Rob’s passing,” comments CMA CEO Sarah Trahern. “He was a key driver of our international expansion for the past years and waived the country flag proudly in Australia. On a personal note, my husband Wayne and I have lost a vibrant friend. Rob lived life to its fullest.”
Keith Urban, Michael Chugg and Tommy Emmanuel were among the many Aussie artists and execs who paid their respects. “Just heard of the passing of Rob Potts … stunned. Deepest condolences to Sally, Jeremy & Robs family & friends. Peace be with you all. — KU,” wrote Urban.
“I am sad to hear about the passing of Rob Potts,” wrote Emmanuel. “He has been a friend to me for a long time and such a strong supporter of so many Artists in our business. I’ll miss him, I’ll miss our talks, our fun together but most of all I’ll miss his love. He was a person of strong character, never judged harshly, always steady, and full of enthusiasm for the future.”
“I’m lost for words. I’m heartbroken,” comments Chugg in a statement. “Rob came to me more than 35 years ago as a fellow Tasmanian with a passion for music, he wanted to do great things. He was without question, the most passionate supporter of country music in Australia. Rob was at the top of his game and all his dreams were coming true. The country music world and the global music industry has lost a pioneer. I have lost a great friend.”
Matthew Lazarus-Hall, CEO of CMC Rocks Qld, added: “It has been an honor and a privilege to have worked with Rob in delivering his dream of a sell-out country music festival in Australia. Rob’s passion and determination was never ending. The industry has lost a great man and I have lost one of my dearest friends.”
Potts is survived by his son, Jeremy Potts, and ex-wife, Sally.
Just heard of the passing of Rob Potts… stunned. Deepest condolences to Sally, Jeremy & Rob’s family & friends. Peace be with you all. -KU
— Keith Urban (@KeithUrban) October 27, 2017