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ROBERT F.X. SILLERMAN,
1949-2019

Robert F.X. Sillerman, the radio and TV station owner who built the concert promotion company that would eventually become Live Nation, died Sunday of respiratory illness. He was 70.

Through acquisitions, Sillerman made his SFX Broadcasting company a Top 10 outfit in the country by the early 1990s before branching out into concert promotion in 1996 by purchasing Delsener/Slater Enterprises in New York. Bill Graham Presents in San Francisco, Sunshine Promotions in Indiana, Contemporary Group of St. Louis, and Concert/Southern Promotions of Atlanta

 were acquired soon thereafter as Sillerman eyed the creation of a national concert-promoting powerhouse. The purchase of the Houston-based PACE paved entry for the company into touring theatrical shows and motorsports.

He sold his SFX Entertainment, then the largest producer of live concerts, theater and sports events, in 2000 to the radio and billboard behemoth Clear Channel in a $4.4b deal; the concert side was eventually divested, creating Live Nation.

When Sillerman sold the company, SFX operated 120 entertainment venues, promoted and/or produced more than 7,000 music concerts and 13,300 theatrical shows in 1999, and represented more than 650 professional athletes.

Long before he put a name on theater’s marquee, Sillerman left the marketing business he was in to create the Sillerman-Morrow Broadcasting Group with DJ Bruce “Cousin Brucie” Morrow in 1978, buying eight radio stations and a TV station. Sillerman sold out in 1985 but continued to invest in radio. He founded SFX Broadcasting with Steven Hicks in 1992 to acquire the stations owned by Command Communications and Capstar Communications. and in 1993, SFX Broadcasting went public.

After ownership regulations were lifted, SFX went on a buying spree until the company's portfolio included more than 70 stations in 20 markets.

By 1998, Sillerman was claiming SFX controlled 40% of the concert industry—unlike modern Live Nation it did not have a ticketing company nor a music management unit—and the Justice Department eventually launched an informal inquiry into whether the company was attempting to monopolize the concert promotions business. It was dropped.

After selling the concert business, he would continue to acquire entertainment companies and assets, first by forming CKX to buy majority rights to Graceland, Simon Fuller’s 19 Entertainment and Muhammed Ali Enterprises; he sold the company in 2011 for $512m.

He restarted SFX Entertainment in 2012 to focus on EDM, buying Beatport and then festival promoters ID&T, Made Event, Totem, MMG Nightlife and React Presents. His companies would produce Spring Awakening, TomorrowWorld, Electric Zoo and others before filing Chapter 11 in 2016.

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