You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Newport Jazz Fest founder sells company

Wein cites funding difficulties

Impresario George Wein, who brought jazz out of smoke-filled nightclubs to mass audiences by founding the much-imitated Newport Jazz Festival more than 50 years ago, says he has sold his production company, which puts on music festivals from New York to Tokyo and Paris.

“I’m concerned with preserving my legacy and at my age I’m still working as hard as ever, but it was more difficult to find the funding necessary to guarantee the future of everything we’re doing,” Wein, 81, said in a telephone interview Thursday.

Wein said he had sold his company, Festival Productions Inc., to The Festival Network LLC, a new New York-based entertainment production company. The price was “in the millions,” he said.

Wein said he became concerned about the future of his company and its festivals as he grew older. Joyce Wein, his wife of 46 years, died in 2005.

He said he had been approached several times during the past decade about selling his company and nearly sold it in 1998 to Black Entertainment Television.

The new owners assure him that the sale won’t cause any major changes in the near future in the sponsorship or programming of the 13 to 15 major festivals his company produces annually, he said, including the JVC Jazz Festival in New York and the Newport jazz and folk festivals.

The deal does not cover the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, which Wein also founded and runs through a separate company.

“I think it is the beginning of a new chapter; I don’t feel it is the end of anything,” said Wein, who will stay on as chairman of the new company’s Festival Productions division.

Chris Shields, the 36-year-old CEO of The Festival Network, said that he approached Wein about a sale and merger last spring and that the deal was finalized this month.

The Festival Network already has an agreement to produce music events at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics and at Games through 2012.

The Festival Network is looking to use Newport as a model to create other “destination festivals in locations around the world that have brands because of their beauty and history,” such as Jackson Hole, Wyo., or Nantucket, Mass.

More Music

  • Shania Twain

    'Now' and Then: Shania Twain on Chasing Love and Fun, 20 Years After 'Come on Over'

    Impresario George Wein, who brought jazz out of smoke-filled nightclubs to mass audiences by founding the much-imitated Newport Jazz Festival more than 50 years ago, says he has sold his production company, which puts on music festivals from New York to Tokyo and Paris. “I’m concerned with preserving my legacy and at my age I’m […]

  • Selena Quintanilla

    Selena Quintanilla to Receive Posthumous Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

    Impresario George Wein, who brought jazz out of smoke-filled nightclubs to mass audiences by founding the much-imitated Newport Jazz Festival more than 50 years ago, says he has sold his production company, which puts on music festivals from New York to Tokyo and Paris. “I’m concerned with preserving my legacy and at my age I’m […]

  • Kelly Clarkson Meaning of Life

    Kelly Clarkson Shares Album Title Track 'Meaning of Life' (Listen)

    Impresario George Wein, who brought jazz out of smoke-filled nightclubs to mass audiences by founding the much-imitated Newport Jazz Festival more than 50 years ago, says he has sold his production company, which puts on music festivals from New York to Tokyo and Paris. “I’m concerned with preserving my legacy and at my age I’m […]

  • Lin-Manuel Miranda Donald Trump Peurto Rico

    Lin-Manuel Miranda on Trump and Puerto Rico: 'I Don't Run Well on Anger'

    Impresario George Wein, who brought jazz out of smoke-filled nightclubs to mass audiences by founding the much-imitated Newport Jazz Festival more than 50 years ago, says he has sold his production company, which puts on music festivals from New York to Tokyo and Paris. “I’m concerned with preserving my legacy and at my age I’m […]

  • Taylor Swift Reputation

    Taylor Swift Teases New Single, 'Gorgeous,' Dropping Tonight (Listen)

    Impresario George Wein, who brought jazz out of smoke-filled nightclubs to mass audiences by founding the much-imitated Newport Jazz Festival more than 50 years ago, says he has sold his production company, which puts on music festivals from New York to Tokyo and Paris. “I’m concerned with preserving my legacy and at my age I’m […]

  • Little Steven

    Little Steven on His Soulful Solo Act, the '60s and 'Springsteen on Broadway'

    Impresario George Wein, who brought jazz out of smoke-filled nightclubs to mass audiences by founding the much-imitated Newport Jazz Festival more than 50 years ago, says he has sold his production company, which puts on music festivals from New York to Tokyo and Paris. “I’m concerned with preserving my legacy and at my age I’m […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content