Wednesday, November 27, 2019

R.I.P.: Robert F X Sillerman, Entertainment Mogul

Robert F.X. Sillerman, the entertainment entrepreneur who helped shape the modern concert industry, has died at 71 due to a respiratory illness, according to Variety.

Robert F X Sillerman
Sillerman made his name in the music business by buying up a series of regional promoters, including Ron Delsener’s New York operation, San Francisco-based Bill Graham Presents and Florida’s Cellar Door Concerts, consolidating the entities under his SFX Entertainment banner and later selling the company to Clear Channel Communications in 2000 for a reported $4.4 billion. That created what became known as Live Nation, which merged with Ticketmaster in 2010 after much government scrutiny, and today is valued at nearly $15 billion. Fourteen years ago, Forbes listed Sillerman on its list of the 400 richest individuals at number 375 with a net worth of $975 million.

With famed radio personality Cousin Bruce Morrow, he bought a pair of upstate New York radio stations, then began acquiring a series of radio frequencies and TV stations on the East Coast and Atlanta. In 1985, he partnered with Carl Hirsch’s Legacy Broadcasting to acquire radio stations in Los Angeles, Denver, Detroit, Minneapolis, Washington DC, Houston, Philadelphia and New York. The company merged with a unit of Westinghouse Broadcasting in 1989 in a transaction worth a then-record $727 million.

In forming Capstar Communications, Sillerman was able to apply to operate more than one class of radio stations in the same market. This, in part, led to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which cleared the way for SFX Broadcasting to consolidate ownership of radio stations, just as he would do for concert promotion, selling his 71 radio stations for $2.1 billion in 1998.

At that point, the renamed SFX Entertainment held on to a pair of small concert promoters, eventually turning the company into the world’s largest producer and presenter of live entertainment, selling the company to Clear Channel for $4.4 billion in 2000.  He was also an investor in Mel Brooks’ profitable Broadway musical, “The Producers.”

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