Tributes paid to Nirvana music promoter

The death has taken place of Des Blair, a Cork music promoter who organised seminal grunge act Nirvana’s first ever gig in Europe.

Tributes paid to Nirvana music promoter

A native of Ballintemple, and whose family owned a long-standing chemist on St Patrick’s St, Mr Blair was in his mid-50s and passed away after a long illness.

As well as Kurt Cobain’s band, he also organised several gigs by John Martyn in Sir Henrys nightclub, and two appearances by BB King at Neptune Stadium.

Earlier this year, Mr Blair spoke to this newspaper about that legendary Nirvana gig in Sir Henrys in August 1991. The gig was the first time ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ was heard live this side of the Atlantic, and it came just a month before their album Nevermind exploded on the scene.

The band were not exactly flush with money on their arrival in Cork, and Mr Blair allocated £10 a head for them to eat in Café Mexicana. When he went to pay at the restaurant the next day, he was surprised to find just one food item listed on the bill. “They had just got some nachos and spent the rest on wine,” he laughed.

Sean O’Neill, the former manager of Sir Henrys, was among the figures from the Cork music industry who paid tribute to Mr Blair. “In the shark-infested world of the music business of that era, Des was a real stand-up guy,” he said.

“There was never any bullshit with him, and he was great to work with. He was always game for a laugh, it wasn’t all about the money with him, and he really did his bit to help local bands as well as bringing some brilliant international gigs to Cork.”

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