‘Visionary’ Longford promoter John Reynolds was never afraid to take a chance

Large crowds expected to pay respects to late Electric Picnic founder

Liam Cosgrove


Liam Cosgrove

Many tributes to 'visionary Longford concert promoter' John Reynolds (52)

The late John Reynolds, who passed away suddenly at his home in Dublin last week.

There was deep sadness over recent days as news filtered through of the death in Dublin of John Reynolds, who died suddenly at just 52 years of age.

Whilst much of the media coverage was about how this Longford native has transformed the music concert – festival scene and the Dublin nightclub culture, there was still a sense that in spite of all his success, he remained very much a Longford success story.

It helped that his father, the late Jim Reynolds and uncle, Albert, former Taoiseach, had themselves been hugely successful music promoters but John Reynolds' success was that he was able to make the formula work on so many levels.

Helped and supported by his father, he took Blazers nightclub at the Longford Arms Hotel to the next level.

It was the place where so many Longford relationships began or were finished. Through his time at the club he would have worked with countless locals either in security or bar staff and over the last few days all spoke fondly of a man who treated everybody the same.

For almost two decades Blazers was the top venue in the midlands and it was not unusual to see crowds touching two thousand there.

He pulled a master stroke then when he launched Ra Ra upstairs in the venue and this was a late night place for live music. It brought some of the country's biggest acts to town.

He also engineered the success story that was the Cube out at the Fountain Blue, which targeted a young age profile and on a typical weekend, it would not have been unusual to see numbers in the region of 4,000 attending the three Reynolds family venues. It was an extraordinary achievement and a triumph for the quiet, young man with the mop of curls.

There is no doubt that the nostalgia that surrounds Longford Summer Festival would not be what it is today without John Reynolds.

He had the vision to bring Jools Holland and so many other top acts to town. And it all fed into an era when Longford was the entertainment capital of the midlands.

Sadly he was to outgrow Longford and in truth there was no way to curtail his creative genius and so the early 1990s saw him start to focus his energies on the Dublin scene.

In 1993 he opened the famous POD nightclub on Harcourt Street in Dublin. It put him firmly at the helm of the Irish entertainment scene and soon he was ready to launch the success story that is Electric Picnic.

It was also during those early days in the POD that he forged a friendship with a then little known Louis Walsh, who was struggling to get his new boy band out of the blocks. He turned to John Reynolds and he readily invested in what was to become the Boyzone success story.

Where ordinary people saw a green field or a vacant building, John Reynolds saw a potential venue and one of his greatest triumphs were the two Leonard Cohen gigs at Lissadell House.

Cohen had been experiencing financial issues, and the gigs helped him come back from this.

What set Reynolds apart was his ability and willingness to take risks but also a deep empathy for people.

Notwithstanding his huge success, he was always keenly aware of his Longford roots and delighted in meeting punters from the home country.

ALSO READ: Many tributes to 'visionary Longford concert promoter' John Reynolds (52)

He was always looking to the next gig and it was ironic that he passed as he was gearing up for the Metropolis Festival at the weekend.

John Reynolds passed away suddenly on October 25 at his home in Milltown, Dublin and is predeceased by his parents, Jim and Anne. He is survived by Angela, James, Orlagh, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, nephews James, Alex, Jack, Tom, James, niece Georgia, his POD family, relatives and friends.

His remains are reposing at Rom Massey & Sons Funeral Home, Cranford Centre, Stillorgan Road, Dublin 4, today Wednesday, October 31 from 5pm until 8pm before removal tomorrow, Thursday, November 1, to The Church of the Sacred Heart, Donnybrook, for Requiem Mass at 2.30pm, followed by private cremation at Mount Jerome Crematorium, Harold’s Cross.