Music: RIP Brent Grulke, SXSW Creative Director
This afternoon, several prominent Austin music writers are reporting that SXSW Music’s creative director and longtime leader Brent Grulke has died following a heart complication from a minor dental surgery.
Grulke had been with the SXSW organization since the late 1980′s, and the creative director since 1994, helping take the festival from scrappy upstart to world-beater during his two decade plus involvement with the conference (to put the hours Grulke has logged in perspective, 1994 was year one for both SXSW Interactive and SXSW Film, and Johnny Cash was the keynote speaker and performer). Under Grulke’s watch, SXSW has become a tourism and cultural focal point for Austin, with the Austin Business Journal reporting that the fest’s economic impact in 2011 was $167 million.
Mr. Grulke’s friend and longtime music writer Michael Corcoran has penned a kind and thoughtful tribute to his friend at his blog, while the Austin Chronicle’s Margaret Moser has posted a link to an article detailing a notorious mid-’80′s lake party with Austin’s old guard of music writers and influentials (Jody Denberg, Michael Hall) as a fond memory to share on a very sad day. Before joining SXSW, Grulke worked as music editor at the Austin Chronicle.
All Austin music fans should tip their hats to Mr. Grulke today for his amazing impact on Austin’s cultural and economic growth. Our condolences go out to the friends, family, and co-workers of Mr. Grulke.