Steve Forster, founder and managing director of VMS Live and a widely respected figure in the UK live music industry, has passed away.
After a stint as a musician, DJ and roadie in Newcastle, Forster’s live music business began in 1987 when he set up his own company, NPS, promoting shows, managing tours and organising club nights.
After a three-year stint as operations director at the old Wembley Stadium, Forster joined Academy Music Group (AMG) in 1999, when it ran two venues, staying with the company as main board director and shareholder until 2007, by which time that number had risen to 13. He then set up VMS Live, and for three years ran the live music division of MAMA (now part of Live Nation).
Since 2011, Forster had led VMS as a standalone business, opening and acquiring several new venues, including most recently Hull clubs the Welly and the Polar Bear.
“Everyone at VMS Live is deeply shocked and saddened at the recent passing of our managing director and founder Steve Forster,” says the company in a statement. “He was involved in a serious car accident on Saturday 30 March, heading south after having watched his beloved Leeds United win. Steve sustained a number of serious injuries, which were treated in Sheffield, after which he was transferred to Royal Surrey Hospital. Following complications, Steve passed away peacefully on Friday 19 April 2019.
“Whether you knew Steve from his early days in Newcastle or through the many venues and events he worked with, we are sure you will agree that he was a focussed and determined operator, a man who knew his own mind and, overall, a truly unique and talented individual.
“HE WAS A TRULY GREAT MAN”
“Steve was respected and influential throughout the industry and has passed on a great deal of knowledge and experience to those around him, and for this legacy we can all be eternally grateful.
“Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with his family, friends and all those who were fortunate to have known him.”
Details of Forster’s funeral arrangements will follow shortly.
Forster’s passing is the second such tragedy in the past year for VMS, which lost its longtime operations consultant, Dan Pike, last September.
Among those to have sent condolences to VMS and Forster’s family include AMG, which offers its “heartfelt thoughts, love and strength” on behalf of his former company, and Showsec, which sends “condolences from all of us at Showsec to Steve’s family, friends and colleagues at this sad time”.
Emerson, Lake and Palmer, who Forster promoted at Hi-Voltage in 2010, expressed their “great regret” at his death, while the Welly pays tribute to Forster’s passion for “Hull and live music, and we hope to carry on his legacy using the wealth of knowledge and experience he has shared with us.”
A statement from Sheffield venue the Leadmill, meanwhile, says: Our sincerest condolences to every one of the VMS and Forster family from everyone here at the Leadmill.
“He was a truly great man.”
(This article was published in IQ Magazine on 23 April, 2019. Click here to read.)