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Universal Entertainment founder Jack Utsick dies at 80

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Alicia Keys Diary Tour Wrapping Party
On April 21, 2005, Alicia Keys and producer Jack Utsick attended the wrap-up party for Keys’ “Diary Tour” on Blvd in New York City. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)

John Paul “Jack” Utsick, whose Worldwide Entertainment Group quickly became one of the world’s top concert promoters, passed away from cancer on June 8, surrounded by his family and rich life and career. He is 80 years old.

From humble beginnings in the 1980s, Utsick rose to prominence as a concert promoter when he began promoting shows in his then-hometown of Portland, Maine, and, after a stint at National Airways, at TWA Work as a commercial airline pilot guard.

While at TWA, he was posted to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia under contract with Saudi Arabian Airlines, where he remained for seven years. According to Utsk’s family, he was “honored to fly for King Khalid” and the Saudi royal family.

According to his daughters Tanya and Scarlett, Utsick has always loved music, was in a high school band with former Wings drummer Denny Seiwell, and after playing with Crosby, Stills & Young, he got the idea to promote the concert.

Over time, he successfully competed with better known promoters in the region and in 1997 gathered a group of investors to form Worldwide Entertainment Group. According to Pollstar’s year-end global promoter rankings, WE first appeared among the top promoters in 2001, when the company ranked sixth with 1,233,248 tickets.

As the world emerged from the Great Recession of the late 1990s, ticket sales grew across the board, and WE was no exception. According to Pollstar, through 2004, Wordwide Entertainment ranked fourth with 2,401,533 ticket sales. Artists he promoted in 2004 include Juanes, Blondie, Trans Siberian Orchestra, Steve Earle, Paul Weller and Journey, among others.

During his career, Utsick has promoted artists including Fleetwood Mac, Jackson Browne, Gordon Lightfoot, Johnny Cash, Steve Martin, Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Nugent, Heart, The Rolling Stones, Bee Gees, Rod Stewart, Aerosmith, Eagles, Cream, Tina Turner, Aerosmith, David Bowe, Elton John, Britney Spears, Janet Jackson, The Moody Blues, Carmina Burana, Eric Clapton, REO Speedwagon, The Three Tenors and many more.

He has also developed business relationships around the world, creating partnerships and benefits at international venues including the Wuhlheide Amphitheater in Germany and the Vector Arena in New Zealand. His endeavors went beyond live music, including a stint in Hollywood as a producer on Paris Hilton’s film “Pledge This.”

By 2005, Utsick’s last full year of actively promoting concerts, he was once again one of the world’s top-grossing promoters, selling 2,289,991 tickets, alongside Clear Channel Entertainment/Live Nation, AEG Live and House of Blues. Entertainment and other companies compete.He promoted more than 2,000 concerts and appeared in the Pollstar box office record from 1999 to 2006

Ultimately, Utsick and two of his partners would be accused by the SEC of financial misconduct in 2006, including selling unregistered securities, and agree to a settlement that included repaying more than $300 million to his investors. The bitter legal battle has lasted more than a decade.

Despite the legal difficulties, Utsk’s defenders remain loyal. “He was always successful, he was a respectable guy, a straight shooter,” Jim Camacho of the Florida band The Game told the Miami Herald in 2006. “He’s definitely a dreamer. He thinks big and he goes for it. His dream is to lead a band to the top.”

“Jack’s heart and soul became part of building an empire from the ground up, and ultimately [one of the largest concert promoters] In the world,” Utsick’s family said in a statement. “He was known simply as “Jack.” Everyone knows him because of his kindness. …may he now rest in peace and be remembered for all the good things he did during his lifetime on Earth…”

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