Alex Cooley, 74, longtime Atlanta concert promoter, has died

AP News
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Posted: Dec 02, 2015 6:20 PM

ATLANTA (AP) — Longtime concert promoter Alex Cooley, known as the "unofficial mayor of Atlanta music" who helped bring top performers to music festivals in Georgia, has died.

He was 74.

Cooley died Tuesday at a rental home in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, according to his former business partner Peter Conlon. Cooley had struggled with heart problems in the past few years, Conlon said.

"He brought music to Atlanta, and he fought hard for artists to play in our market," said Conlon, the Live Nation Atlanta president. "He was an inspiration and mentor to me. He was well-known and respected worldwide. He was an incredible human being. He'll be missed by everybody."

Cooley promoted rock and roll shows in Atlanta, where he was born and raised and elsewhere in Georgia.

He made a splash in the music scene in 1969 with the Atlanta International Pop Festival held at the Atlanta International Raceway in Hampton, featuring Janice Joplin, Johnny Winter, Led Zeppelin and other top acts. It came one month before the more famous Woodstock festival in New York.

The following year the 2nd Atlanta International Pop Festival in Byron, south of Macon, had the Allman Brothers Band, Jimi Hendrix, Mountain, and others, along with a crowd of 300,000 or more.

In 1974 Cooley opened the Electric Ballroom at a concert hall in Atlanta. Through the end of the 1970s, it showcased music acts such as Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen.

Cooley and Conlon also helped promote the inaugural Music Midtown in 1994. The first festival in Atlanta attracted as many as 300,000 people over three days with national acts like Bob Dylan and Ashlee Simpson.

In 1981, Cooley and Conlon partnered to create Concert/Southern Promotions, which grew into one of the country's top concert promotion firms. Conlon estimates the pair promoted around 300-400 concerts a year.

Cooley was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1987 and awarded a Grammy HEROES Award in 2004. He had recently been a partner in buying Eddie's Attic, a small acoustic venue located in downtown Decatur.