Coachella promoter would gladly book Kate Bush — if only he could

No, Paul isn’t dead, but yes, Kate Bush would be more than welcome to perform at the annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival any time she’d like.

Goldenvoice chief Paul Tollett set the record straight Tuesday about a couple of erroneous reports that surfaced just days before the 2017 edition of the annual desert festival in Indio is set to get under way on Friday.

The first — a premature report of Tollett’s death — surfaced Monday in a Bloomberg News Service story regarding a cease-and-desist notice Coachella officials sent to a company that recently began marketing a line of pre-rolled marijuana joints carrying the festival’s name.

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That story included a reference to “an obituary of co-partner Paul Tollett,” which, he said, “had a lot of people texting me. To quote my friend Mark Twain, ‘The report of my death was an exaggeration.’” The obituary cited undoubtedly referred to his original partner in the concert-promotion firm, Rick Van Santen, who died in 2004.

The truly hot topic — that Tollett had turned down an offer to book Kate Bush this year — emerged out of an April 17 New Yorker profile of Tollett and his company, which stages Coachella; its country cousin, Stagecoach; and the event that set the concert business on its ear last fall: Desert Trip, the classic-rock blowout that instantly became the highest-grossing music festival in history by raking in about $160 million over two weekends in October.

In the New Yorker story, William Morris Entertainment agent Marc Geiger was quoted saying he had pitched Tollett on booking Kate Bush, the beloved and influential English musician who rarely tours but triumphed in a stretch of acclaimed performances in London in 2014. (She has never toured the U.S.) Geiger’s version of Tollett’s response had him replying, “No! No one is going to understand it.”

That set the Internet abuzz, prompting a representative for Bush on Tuesday to issue a statement saying, “It was never Kate’s intention to play any more shows than she did in London. The show was conceived for a very specific type of venue. No discussions were ever had with Kate about playing any festival, including Coachella.”

For Tollett, the New Yorker article hit a sensitive spot. “Even going back before Coachella [started in 1999], Goldenvoice has been after her for 25 years,” he said. “She just doesn’t do very many shows.”

Some concert industry pundits as well as Coachella-goers had speculated that Bush might have filled in for Beyoncé after the pop-R&B singer bowed out of her scheduled headlining appearance this year on doctor’s orders because of her pregnancy.

But that scenario didn’t fly with Tollett, even if Bush had been interested and available.

“That’s not the right place to put her — as a replacement for Beyoncé on a Saturday night. She’s never played in America, and to think that could be arranged in 30 days, that would be impossible….,” Tollett said. “We’ve had a long history of delicacies at Coachella, and that is one of the ultimate delicacies. Of course we would want that.”

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times

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