U2’s first booking agent David Kavanagh has died aged 62

The music promoter’s agency had represented Christy Moore and Thin Lizzy

The late David Kavanagh

The late David Kavanagh

 

U2’s first booking agent David Kavanagh, who went on to manage Clannad and Celtic Woman to global success, has died at the age of 62.

Mr Kavanagh died at the Blackrock Clinic on Friday morning after a long illness. He had been diagnosed with cancer in 2009.

Mr Kavanagh started out as the entertainment officer at UCD in 1975 and his Road Runner Agency represented U2, The Boomtown Rats, Christy Moore, Planxty and Thin Lizzy.

He had further success after setting up the Celtic Heartbeat label in 1993 with U2 manager Paul McGuinness.

The label was founded to capitalise on the renewed interest in Irish music, especially in the United States, and initially capitalised on the worldwide success of Riverdance, the album of which won a Grammy.

The label was eventually sold to Universal Records. It sold more than seven million records worldwide.

In 1997 he set up Claddagh Records and then Liffey Records, which acquired the Celtic Collections label in 2004.

Celtic Collections remains among the most successful of Irish music labels.

He also developed the show Celtic Woman, an ensemble of five Irish women who have had massive success abroad particularly in the United States and Australia.

Similarly he put together The High Kings, a ballad group which involved the sons of some of Ireland’s best-known performers. The band recently celebrated 10 years together.

Both Celtic Woman and The High Kings issued a joint statement via their Facebook pages.

They described Mr Kavanagh as a “giant of the music industry with a massive life-long love for it. The industry will be a lesser place without him”.

The statement added: “Dave will be sorely missed by his wife Rhona, his son Luke and daughter Phoebe, his family, all those who work with him at the labels, the artists and his many friends both within and outside the music industry worldwide.

“He has been at the helm of the Celtic Collections record label since 2004 bringing great Irish music to an audience around the world.”

One of his first acts as a young promoter was to set up the Castlebar International Music Festival.

He managed Clannad to considerable international success from 1982 to 1996.

The band took off internationally in 1982 with the success of the theme from Harry’s Game, a song which provided the foundation for a global audience for the band.

A close friend of Dubliners singer Ronnie Drew, Mr Kavanagh released the tribute album A Fond Farewell after Drew died of cancer in 2008.

Mr Kavanagh was one of the last people to see the late Gerry Ryan before the RTÉ broadcaster died in April 2010. He had been with him the night before his death.

Mr Kavanagh later took an action against Mr Ryan’s partner Melanie Verwoerd. He claimed her memoir When We Dance in 2012 defamed him.

The case was settled and a statement read out stating that Mr Kavanagh had been a good friend of Mr Ryan. It went on to acknowledge that Mr Ryan turned to Mr Kavanagh for help shortly before his death.

The statement added: “Melanie Verwoerd does not and never has suggested that Mr Kavanagh behaved in any way inappropriately on April 29th, 2010.”