The promoter, PR and supervisor Stuart Lyon, who has died aged 77 of sepsis and pneumonia, helped to remodel the reside music scene in London with the wide selection of latest artists he took a danger on reserving.
At a live performance in his honour at Nell’s Jazz and Blues in June 2018, celebrating his first 50 years within the enterprise, he was hailed as a “legend” and “the saviour of reside music”. An entertaining, easy-going determine, extensively generally known as Uncle Stuart or Uncle Stu, he was an avid music fan, at all times prepared to take of venture, significantly when selling the African and Latin music he cherished.
His profession began in 1968 when Stuart visited the Hampstead Nation Membership, the leisure space of the north London tennis membership behind Belsize Park tube station that was then being employed out to assist the membership’s funds. Noting the small viewers at a lunchtime jazz session, he determined “I can do that higher”, and commenced selling all-night reveals there. In keeping with Stuart, his first reserving there was Spooky Tooth, adopted by everybody from Elton John to the younger David Bowie, Mott the Hoople, Black Sabbath and African stars Osibisa and Johnny Clegg.
He went on to advertise a whole lot of reveals at different venues throughout London, from the 100 Membership to Equinox, Tatty Bogles and Ronnie Scott’s, the place his Sunday night time Upstairs periods grew to become a showcase for African and Latin artists.
In 1983 he booked the Nigerian star Fela Kuti to play his greatest London present up to now, on the Brixton Academy. It is a corridor that holds 5,000 folks, however 10 days earlier than the present a mere 500 tickets had been offered, based on Fela’s supervisor Rikki Stein. The venue determined to cancel the occasion, however Stuart furiously refused, regardless of the chance of constructing a substantial loss. Within the occasion, this now celebrated present was offered out and a number of other hundred followers needed to be turned away.
Even unsuccessful reveals grew to become a part of his legend. When the Puerto Rican band Gran Combo performed at Equinox, Lyon deliberate to pay them from money gross sales on the door. The band refused to go on except they had been paid upfront, and the present was cancelled.
“There was nearly a riot, the followers had been so offended,” the DJ and lawyer John Armstrong, who performed at lots of his reveals, stated, “however Stuart calmly confronted all of them, explaining what had gone on.”
His many later reveals included an anti-apartheid pageant that includes Hugh Masekela and Miriam Makeba, and the epic Salsa 2000 live performance, for which he persuaded the Latin superstars Celia Cruz, Oscar D’León and Rubén Blades to all seem in a cold discipline on Three Mills island, on the sting of the River Lea within the East Finish of London. It appeared a weird setting for such an occasion, however crowds flocked out to see them, and the present was a hit.
Stuart was born in Harrow, Middlesex, the son of Peggy (nee Heath) and Lesley Lyon, who each labored as railway clerks for the British Transport Police. From 1955 till 1962 he attended Harrow county faculty for boys, the place he performed in a faculty band that additionally included Geoff Weedon, son of the guitar hero Bert. Stuart left to work in promoting, initially with Masius & Ferguson, and in 1967 spent the summer season enjoying the double bass with a band at an American base in Turkey. He later stated: “I couldn’t actually play – however I obtained by.”
On his return he briefly continued his promoting profession earlier than switching to music promotion, after which additionally PR and administration. He master-minded the early solo profession of the American singer Viola Wills, who had been working as backing vocalist for Joe Cocker, and helped to advertise her unsuccessful debut album Delicate Facilities in 1974.
They had been married two years later, however divorced by the point Wills grew to become a star, later within the decade.
Within the early 80s he lived on a houseboat on Chelsea Attain along with his buddy, the promoter John Curd, with whom he was working, and toured Yugoslavia with the punk band Anti-Nowhere League. Curd described him as “a celebration animal and a happy-go-lucky trailblazer”.
All the time neatly dressed, Stuart grew to become a well known determine in Soho, the place he cherished to carry courtroom within the French, the place he would inform tales about musicians and concert events, and enthuse about new music. On the time of his loss of life he was already planning his post-lockdown promotions.
He’s survived by his elder brother, Nicholas, and nieces, Niamh and Aisling.