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Probyn to receive Lifetime Achievement gong at UK Festival Awards

Tom Pakinkis
John Probyn

Live Nation’s chief operating office John Probyn will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2012 UK Festival Awards next week.

The honour, decided by the Festival Awards board, crowns a momentous year for the world-renowned production boss, which has seen him direct the largest series of live music events ever staged by a single company in the UK in one summer, in the face of some heavy resistance from the weather.

Probyn not only saw this year’s Download Festival sell 100,000 tickets, he then walked 144 miles to Hyde Park in aid of Cancer Research where he played host to more than a million music fans across Wireless, Hard Rock Calling and BT London Live in support of the 2012 Olympic Games.

“John’s contributions to event production have raised the bar in safety, comfort and enjoyment for millions of live music fans across the festival spectrum, worldwide, extending far beyond his own events,” said Festival Awards co-founder Steve Jenner. “For this reason alone this award is overdue.

“However, I feel passionately that credit also very much due for John’s commitment to engaging directly with his audiences through digital channels as well as regular fan-forum meet-up events. This has been key to the stand-out success of events like Download Festival and has driven forward the evolution of the wider marketplace in no small strides.”

Following the announcement of Probyn’s award, the live music industry has come together the pay tribute:

John Giddings, MD, Solo and organiser of the Isle Of Wight Festival: “I have always been impressed with John's ability to make a show happen, against all odds. He has a practical ability and understanding of putting on a show that is unrivalled in this country. That said, he shouldn't be allowed to talk to the press! I can't think of a more deserving recipient”.

Tim Massey, International Director of the 46664 concerts in honour of Nelson Mandela: "I first met John at Live Nation's offices in Argyll Street in 2007 when we were starting to plan Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday concert and dinner in Hyde Park. That was in the days when the right hand lift always seemed to breakdown with people trapped inside. I remember one story of when John was one of those trapped and running late for a meeting (as it was told to me) and in true JP spirit he forced open the doors and clambered to safety rescuing the other occupants. It is this spirit of adventure, great humour and level headiness which John has always shown, that singles him out as a one off. He has been a delight to work with over the years, as have his awesome team and long may this continue, always with a few laughs along the way! Many congratulations John, you deserve it."

Melvin Benn, MD, Festival Republic: “It is hard to extend my memory to the point I met John it was so long ago but it was sometime in the early 90’s and well before the digital age we now live in and he was working for BRMB radio station in Birmingham producing shows. He and I didn’t cross over on anything particular that I can remember (he was in the MCP camp as I recall) and yet he stood out. He was obviously good at what he was doing (probably the only good thing about BRMB actually!) and has continued to be good at all that he does which is why he has gone on to steer Download, Wireless, Hard Rock Calling and lots of other things for Live Nation to be what they are now but he was also alright. He was personable and genuine and ultimately, that’s what resonated with me. He is genuine in everything he does. I liked it then and I still do now. He deserves the applause. I wish there were more like him. Great for Live Nation, great for his team and great for the industry. Cheers John.”

Jason Carter, BBC Head of Live Music Events: "A more than well deserved award for John, who has delivered some of our most special event moments for the BBC, particularly for Radio 1. He is always a pleasure to work with, whether that's broadcasting from his shows, or building ours. But most of all a thoroughly decent person!"

James Barton, Cream Founder and President of Electronic Music, Live Nation: “There are few more deserving of the Lifetime Achievement Award than John Probyn. His contribution to our industry has been immense, also his management of Creamfields in the early days helped set the template for us to follow ever after. He is great to work with, up for a laugh and a genuine all round top bloke.”

Bernard Doherty, CEO, LD Communications: “John Probyn is a festival icon and the best in the business. This man could build and put a show on in the Sahara desert and yes I would be right there to publicise it. I have worked for John at Download from the very beginning as well as many successful years in Hyde Park.  He is always in complete control, with an air of calm only comparable to a grand master… which is what he is. A consummate professional who never fails, at the end of a long festival day to have a smile on his face and is happy to offer you a bit of advice.”

Paul Latham, Chief Executive Officer, Live Nation UK: “No site or task has been too big for John Probyn and all functions are carried out with his usual Brummie bonhomie. John has developed a world class team around him and is always keen to impart his knowledge to those that ask while learning more from those around him. Indeed 2012 was a seminal year for him as not only did he have the usual array of Live Nation festivals to oversee, he took on the creation and production of the month-long multi-site London Olympic Live sites, and still found time to take part in a mind-numbing and limb-destroying 145 mile charity walk with 3 other athletically challenged industry veterans to raise over £100k for respective charities. I am proud to have him as my right hand man, and a friend.” 

Neale Coleman, Director of London 2012 at the GLA and the Mayor of London's advisor on London 2012: "John made a fantastic contribution to London's unique Olympic and Paralympic summer.  Working with the Mayor and many other partners he made possible the BT London Live Sites which enabled 1.5 million people to share in the spirit of London 2012.  Without his energy, drive and determination it simply wouldn't have happened."

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Tags: live nation, festival, Live, awards, John Probyn

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