Dennis Sheehan. Photo: U2.com
New York, NY (May 28, 2015)—U2’s longtime tour manager, Dennis Sheehan, 68, died early Wednesday morning in Los Angeles, just hours after the band completed the first concert of a five-show stand at The Forum. A permanent part of U2’s team, Sheehan had worked with the band for more than 30 years.
According to reports, paramedics came to the Sunset Marquis Hotel around 5:30 AM after Sheehan suffered a cardiac arrest; he was pronounced dead at the scene. “We’ve lost a family member, we’re still taking it in,” said Bono in a statement on the band’s website. “He wasn’t just a legend in the music business, he was a legend in our band. He is irreplaceable.”
Clair Global, the band’s audio provider for decades, took to Facebook to honor the tour manager, posting, “We are heartbroken over the loss of an extraordinary human being. Thank you, Dennis, for gracing us with your knowledge, friendship, laughter & humility. Please continue to watch over the U2 family as only you can.”
Sheehan first began working with U2 in early 1982 after being introduced to the band’s manager, Paul McGuinness, by a mutual friend. He quickly landed the job overseeing the band’s next tour, supporting the album War, and had worked with them ever since.
Beyond managing that initial journey, he played an unexpectedly pivotal role in creating the definitive document of the tour, the classic live EP, Under A Blood Red Sky. Recorded at a cold, rainy show at Red Rocks Amphitheater outside Denver, CO, the concert closed with the ballad “40,” after which the band came off stage, disappointed by the frozen audience’s muted response at the end of what had otherwise been a career-defining concert. Unrequested, Sheehan grabbed a mic, hid behind the stage barrier and began singing the song’s refrain, “How long to sing this song?” quietly through the PA until the audience slowly joined in for a massive sing-along. The result, after an edit, became the EP’s haunting fade out.
U2 was hardly the first act Sheehan worked with, however; in addition to handling tours for the likes of Patti Smith, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop around the turn of the 1980s, between 1967 and 1979, he worked with numerous groups managed by Peter Grant, most notably Led Zeppelin, as the assistant to another famed tour manager, Richard Cole.
Honoring the memory of their friend, U2 soldiered on last night, playing the eighth show of the 70-date world tour.