U.K. music PR whiz Rob Partridge dies

Coalition Group founder succumbs to cancer at 60

LONDON -- U.K. music industry veteran Rob Partridge has died following a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 60.

Partridge, born Robert John Partridge on June 2, 1948, was the founder and owner of London-based music public-relations and artist-management company Coalition Group.

In a statement, singer-actress Marianne Faithfull, who had worked with Partridge since 1979, described him as "one of the greatest men I have known and a great man to work with." She added, "I don't know what I will do without him; we have been friends for so long."

Faithfull initially worked with Partridge when he was head of press at London-based Island Records, and she remains a Coalition client.

Another of Partridge's clients, former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, said: "Rob was a lovely guy, gentle and polite, but not above good, devilish humor. He loved soulful music and working with soulful artists because he was soulful himself."

A hugely popular and respected figure within the U.K. music business, Partridge began his industry career as a journalist for British trade publication Music Week before joining the now-defunct weekly music magazine Melody Maker during the mid-1970s.

He became head of press at Island in 1977 and joined the label's board as media director four years later. In that role, Partridge was responsible for a roster that included Bob Marley & the Wailers, with whom he worked until Marley's death in 1981. Partridge handled media for Marley's estate until 1997.

Other acts with whom Partridge worked closely at Island included U2, Grace Jones, Kid Creole & the Coconuts, Run-DMC, NWA, Lee "Scratch" Perry, Robert Palmer, Steve Winwood, the B-52s and Tom Waits.

Partridge exited Island in 1990 to launch PR agency Partridge & Storey with business partner Neil Storey in early 1991. The company became Coalition PR when Storey departed in 1996. Current acts on its roster include Waits, Faithfull, Amadou and Miriam, Manu Chao, Billy Bragg, the Charlatans and Daniel Lanois. The company also has enjoyed lengthy relationships with retailer HMV and the Mercury Music Prize.

In 1999, Partridge launched Coalition Management, which has a client list that includes the Music, the Streets, the Zutons, the View, Bloc Party, Embrace and Fionn Regan.

"Everyone who knew Rob will tell you he was one of the most genuine and decent guys around," said Gennaro Castaldo, head of press and PR at HMV U.K. & Ireland/Fopp. "(He was) incredibly knowledgeable and generous, and always prepared to help somebody that needed his advice or his unique brand of wisdom. Perhaps his greatest quality was the ability to bring like-minded people together, and, of course, he helped shaped the careers of some of our greatest artists -- though you wouldn't know it as he was also one of the most humble and modest people you're ever likely to have met."

Castaldo added: "HMV's relationship with Rob and Coalition goes back some 15 years, which shows the high regard we held him in. We will all miss Rob so much, and our thoughts at this time are with his family and everyone at Coalition."

Partridge is survived by his wife, Tina.

Coalition issued a statement that reads: "From Tina and all of us at the Coalition Family, and to all in our extended family of ex-staffers, clients, colleagues, artists, journalists and friends, we send our heartfelt thanks for all your love and support during Rob's fight and the knowledge that his spirit will live on through all of us that he's taught and nurtured in the way that only Rob ever could."