Brent Grulke, the creative director for Austin, TX's wildly popular SXSW Music Festival and Conference, has died, according to reports. He was 52.
Grulke was scheduled to undergo oral surgery this morning, August 13, and reportedly died of a heart attack shortly after the procedure.
A former writer for the Austin Chronicle, Grulke had worked for the festival since its inception in 1987, becoming creative director in 1994 and helping to cultivate the festival's reputation for booking local and underground bands.
Grulke was a man of many talents throughout his career in the music industry, working as a sound engineer and tour manager for a number of bands in the 1980s and in the marketing division of Spindletop Records in the early 1990s, an indie label that boasted the likes of the Neville Brothers and Boney James.
Longtime Austin American Statesman writer Michael Corcoran wrote in a remembrance of his friend Grulke that he was "a music man. He bought tons of records and worked with bands and eventually rose through the ranks of South By Southwest to become creative director in the mid-'90s. The reason that 2,000 acts play SXSW every year, instead of a more manageable 700 or 800 is, in part, because Grulke just wanted more, more, more when it came to music."
Corcoran's tribute mentioned an album Grulke co-produced (""Bands On the Block"), a mid-80s Austin anthem he co-wrote ("I'm Sorry, I Can't Rock You All Night Long") and the impact he had doing sound for touring bands (Wild Seeds, and the True Believers).
Even though Grulke wasn't a native Austinite, Corcoran noted his affinity the "Live Music Capital of the World." Grulke had moved to Austin from the suburbs of Houston in the early-80s to attend the University of Texas. Quoting an interview with Lynn Margolis Grulke explained: "I lived in New York for a bit, I lived in Los Angeles for a bit and I lived in San Francisco for a bit pursuing my career in music, and I got quote unquote better jobs in all those places. They were certainly much better paying, they were more professional, but I didn't like the environment as much. And so, like a lot of the musicians, I came back to Austin… This is my home, even if its difficult for me to make a living here, I'd rather be in Austin."