Wednesday 18 September 2019

Leo's 'great debt' to promoter John

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA
Barry Egan

Barry Egan

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has told the Sunday Independent that he was "very sorry that John Reynolds has left us".

Speaking after last week's funeral Mass for the music promoter, who died recently aged 52, Leo added: "I only ever spoke to him once - on the phone when he parted with Electric Picnic - but I come from a generation who owes him a great debt.

"He opened up so many new social and musical experiences for us, whether it was the POD and RedBox as students, or the Electric Picnic as thirtysomethings.

"It's impossible to know what we will miss out on in the future because of his early departure," Leo added of the Longford-born promoter (a nephew of former Fianna Fail Taoiseach Albert Reynolds).

"I admired his creativity, for sure. He was always better on the creative side than the business end. I've only been to the Electric Picnic twice. I didn't go in the early years."

Did Leo go to the POD nightclub when he was younger? "A couple of times," Leo said. "The first time was Fatboy Slim when I was 18. I didn't know who he was at the time. I was working in a book shop and some of the other staff were going.

"I haven't been in that venue for ages now. I think it became Crawdaddy? What's there now? That would have been the summer of 1997. I'm feeling middle-aged now."

Last Thursday, John Reynolds's funeral Mass (at which the Taoiseach was represented by his Aide de Camp) began in a manner that John Reynolds would have loved.

It was like he was there, standing in the wings orchestrating everything at the Church of the Sacred Heart in Donnybrook in Dublin.

To the side of the altar, Damien Rice performed Leonard Cohen's So Long Marianne. Nearly 800 people, some standing, were gathered in the church to say 'so long, John'.

As his coffin was carried out in the winter sunshine, there were people weeping. John's rich legacy wasn't just the timeless memories of the concerts he put on (Leonard Cohen at Lissadell House in Sligo, Nick Cave at Kilmainham, Ennio Morricone etc ); it was the people who loved him.

David Bell, who worked with John for more than 30 years, said that what he would miss most of all would be seeing John "come alive with an idea, reaching out for napkins or a notepad, scrawling notes on his arm, and genius taking shape.

"I remember a friend enthusing that Electric Picnic was like a weekend away in the mind of John Reynolds. It hurt John deeply to lose control of Electric. He described the experience as akin to having his child taken from him. Things got very low for him. But like the great leader he was, John dusted himself down and rallied his team and went in search of pastures new," he wrote on Facebook.

Sunday Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Don't Miss

Editor's Choice