UPDATED: Shelley Lazar, founder of SLO Ticketing and a pioneer of premium ticketing and VIP programs for artists including the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and The Who, died Sunday morning after a battle with cancer, a rep for her company confirmed. She was 69.
Affectionately known as “The Ticket Queen” — or “MFTQ,” as she was dubbed by none other than Keith Richards — Vanity Fair called Lazar “the mastermind behind rock royalty’s all-access passes.” She worked her way through the ranks with New York concert promoter Ron Delsener, Madison Square Garden and Bill Graham Presents before striking out on her own in 2002 with the San-Francisco based SLO VIP Ticket Services. Her company was acquired by Ticketmaster in 2008, with Lazar remaining as chief executive.
Social media, particularly her Facebook page, is filled with loving tributes, including ones from Elton John and Paul McCartney. “Shelley Lazar was like no other,” Jimmy Fallon tweeted. “Really gonna miss her.”
In 2014, at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park, McCartney performed “San Francisco Bay Blues,” an early hit for the Weavers, and dedicated it to her. He speaks about her at length in the video included in the tweet below, saying “You want tickets for anything? Shelley’s the go-to,” then apologizes, realizing what he’d set her up for. She can be seen smiling and waving at the end of that video, and this one of McCartney performing the song.
“She was a one of a kind character and a tough as nails businesswoman,” reads a tweet from Ticketmaster parent company Live Nation. “Her passion, tenacity and love of music will be remembered by all of us.”
According to her biography, other artists and events for which Lazar managed VIP ticketing include Bob Dylan, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Madonna, Pink, Celine Dion, Paul Simon, the MTV Video Music Awards, the People’s Choice Awards, Barbra Streisand’s 2017 television special and even two Popes. She was also co-executive producer of the award-winning documentary, “Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars.”
Lazar began working part-time in the music industry in the early 1970s, while still a public school teacher in New York City — future comedy and film star Chris Rock was one of her students. Early in her career she worked in several areas of the music business, starting with catering and moving up to booking, marketing and ultimately ticketing, managing the ticket office at Madison Square Garden and earning a reputation as “The Keeper of the List” at the Pier in New York for shows promoted by Ron Delsener.
She was active in several non-profit organizations, including the Bill Graham Memorial Foundation, Human Rights Watch and the Elton John AIDS Foundation. She also melded her teaching and music-business backgrounds as a member of the Board of Directors of Little Kids Rock, a charity based in Verona, New Jersey charity encouraging children to play popular music by providing free music instructions and instruments to school districts across the country.
While no details were immediately available, a public tribute to Lazar is expected in the coming weeks.