Music

Vince Power, Prominent Concert and Festival Promoter, Dies at 76

Vince Power, the legendary Irish impresario who founded the U.K.’s Mean Fiddler Music Group, had a hand in many of Europe’s leading festivals, and was made an honorary Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his work in the live music industry, died Saturday (March 9). He was 76.

Power had the right name for the job. Born into a rural family in 1947 in County Waterford, Ireland, the concert promoter and venue operator founded MFMG in 1982, then a small northwest London country music venue.

He made his move to London at age 16, and initially ventured into the secondhand furniture business, but his love of music led him to invest in that derelict former drinking club in Harlesden. The Mean Fiddler was born, and it proved to be the platform from which he built an empire.

At its peak, the group encompassed some 30 venues and events, including the London Astoria, Jazz Cafe, the Leeds and Reading festivals, Fleadh Festival, and an interest in Europe’s biggest and best-known annual festival, England’s Glastonbury.

He sold his stake in MFMG in 2005 to Clear Channel, now Live Nation, and returned to the game with a new live entertainment venture, the Vince Power Music Group, initially comprising a portfolio of London live-music venues, bars and nightclubs.

The following year, in 2006, Power was made an honorary CBE for his “valuable contribution to music.”

Power reentered the festival business with the Day at the Hop Farm fest, and took a controlling interest in Spain’s Benicassim (Vince Power Music Group was hammered by the global financial crisis and went under in 2010).

“I just love organizing festivals,” he told Billboard in 2008. “It’s a challenge again—and I’m not ready to keel over just yet. With the Mean Fiddler, we had a huge amount of stuff which we did—live music festivals, dance festivals, bars, tours—and when I sold it out three years ago, it had got to the stage that it was huge. It was a [public limited company], it [had] £80 million [$158 million] [in revenue], and I lost the sort of touch that I have now, the hands-on touch. I looked at retiring for about two weeks. [laughs] That didn’t really work for me.”

Power is remembered as a music man, and a maverick with a tough-guy image, but in an interview with The Irish Times, he described himself as a “lucky chancer”.

Power never switched off the music, never forget his Irish roots. In recent years, he produced Liverpool Feis festival, billed as “the biggest celebration of Irish culture the city has ever seen.”

As news of his passing spread, the music community paid their respects to the powerful Irish concerts specialist. “I’m going to miss you so very much, my friend in music, in thinking, in dreaming,” writes Welsh singer and songwriter Cerys Matthews, co-founder of Catatonia. “Love you very much.”

Fellow artist Imelda May writes on social media, “So sad to hear of the passing of the great Vince Power. I adored him. He took a chance on me at the start of my career when I needed it most. He was so important to Irish culture and community at home and the UK. He’ll be greatly missed. Love to his family.”

Power is survived by his wife Sharon.

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