Willie Robertson

Willie Robertson, pioneer of the insurance industry and one of the live music businesses most enigmatic figures, has died following a determined fight against cancer at the age of 67. Willie passed away on Saturday 9 July, 2011. His wife Angie and family were with him.

Willie founded insurance specialists Robertson Taylor along with Bob Taylor and Ian France in 1977... ...a company that would revolutionise the insurance business in the world of music. Covering a niche market that had not been previously served, the company soon became a market leader. Innovations included introducing non appearance policies to the US market.

Consistently on hand for his clients, Willie’s reputation in the business soon grew. When Rod Stewart cancelled a string of US dates due to a dislocated toe, Willie flew out on Concorde to persuade the insurance company to pay up. And even the most unusual requests were covered, including insuring the Pope shortly after he had been shot; a policy to pay Captain Sensible if his first song Happy Talk went to number one in the UK charts – which of course it did; and requests to insure various parts of the body, from faces to feet and other appendages.

Renowned for his infectious sense of humour and huge personality, Willie closed the deals leaving his partners to cover the details. The Robertson Taylor boat by the Croisette in Cannes during each MIDEM conference soon became an annual highlight of the event. The role that he and the company founders played was marked in 2002 when the Music Managers Forum (MMF) inducted them into its roll of honour.

Willie also played a pivotal role in establishing and governing Nordoff Robbins, the music industry’s charity of choice, in 1976. He also played a central role in founding the charity’s foundation in America in 1988, an effort that was recognised with a Music Industry Trusts Award six years later.

“He had a passion for the cause of music therapy and being a man to whom it was almost impossible to say no, he had a remarkable ability to draw people to Nordoff Robbins,” said the charity. “After a weekend hanging out with some of the biggest names in rock, he could go into Lloyd's of London on Monday morning and successfully place the industry's risks in the insurance market. He had an acute brain which missed little, and it was his extraordinary innovation to marry the vastly different worlds of rock 'n' roll and corporate finance.”

Alongside his usual battle cry of “You're covered”, Willie was renowned for expressions such as “Onwards and upwards, dear boy!” “We are so hot the London Fire Brigade couldn’t put us out”, and “Nobody moves until I pull the trigger”. Willie was never off duty, a true legend from the live music industry, and both at work and at play was a charming, considerate, entertaining and hardworking friend. He was a long-time supporter and a much-loved member of the ILMC who will be sorely missed by so many.

Willie is survived by his wife Angie and his three children Saran, Sami and Max. "To say that he will leave a gap in our lives is truly an understatement. Willie was a prolific producer of business and a tough and challenging partner throughout our long and incredibly successful relationship. The three of us along with help from many of you guys built what we now know as Robertson Taylor. Over the years he made many life-long friends who have been in regular contact with his family and with myself over the last few weeks. The support has been overwhelming coming from all across the world."
(Words: Bob Taylor)

"He loved the business. He loved the music industry. He was great fun and it’s a really huge loss and a very sad end to a fantastic career."
(Words:Elton John)    

“It is with great sadness that we heard today of the passing of industry insurance giant Willie Robertson. Willie and his partner Bob Taylor invented the music insurance market, and Willie was a friend of the MMF from beginning to end. We will miss his joie de vivre and his company. A sad day.”
(Words:Jon Webster, MMF)

“In his 36 years of working with [Nordoff Robbins], it was often Willie who maintained fundraising impetus and drove new ideas. He stayed a member of the fundraising committee until his death. It was his passion for the cause of music therapy that really drove his commitment to Nordoff Robbins. His passing is a tragic loss to all of us here and he will be missed enormously.”
(Words:David Munns)