ILMC’s long-time producer Alia Dann Swift passed away at her home in Melbourne, Australia on 24 May, 2017. Alia was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer in early April and had spent the last few weeks being cared for by her husband Steve Swift, and her two cats. She was 57.
“She was the best,” says CAA’s Emma Banks. “A beautiful human being, a great friend, a smart and an inspiring woman.”
With dual Australian and British citizenship, Alia lived in the UK between 1990 and 2008 where she tackled a variety of roles in the touring business. From tour manager and production coordinator, to artist liaison, tour accountant and band manager, her attention to detail, stamina and warmth served her well.
Tours that benefitted from her matriarchal presence included Paul McCartney, David Gilmour, Sparks, UB40, M People, Art Garfunkel, Ruby Wax, Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd and REM.
Alia was part of the team that brought Roger Waters and David Gilmour together for ‘Live 8’ in 2005, and she played a key role in the inception of ‘Lord of the Dance,’ a touring production that went on to tour successfully worldwide for nearly two decades.
But aside from her efforts on the road, many in the business knew her as the producer of ILMC, a role she undertook between 2000 and 2014.
“Without Alia there would be no ILMC now,” said ILMC founder Martin Hopewell. “A handful of years into the conference’s long history, she stepped up to take on the job of making it work at a time when the organisation behind the event had fallen apart, and I had almost given up hope of finding a way to continue.
“Alia pretty well single-handedly redesigned the way that the ILMC was put together, and became a major driving force in steering the conference towards the status that it now occupies. She was quite literally the mother of the conference, and every single one of us owes her a debt.”
Alia’s stewardship of ILMC was instrumental in both managing and growing the conference, and her tenure also saw the launch of 'IQ Magazine,' and the ILMC Production Meeting.
“Alia was renowned for her warmth, her tireless support of those around her, a perennial sense of humour and a no-nonsense approach,” said ILMC head Greg Parmley. “She was a widely loved and respected figure in the touring world, who will be deeply and entirely missed.”
“I will miss Alia’s super-human organisational skills, her almost limitless patience, her way of gently keeping me in check, her unfathomable sense of humour – and her disturbing ability to look glamorous in a cow costume,” Hopewell said. “But overall, I will miss having that wonderful, caring person in my life – one of the best friends and allies I have ever known.”
Alia and her husband Steve moved from Brighton back to Melbourne in 2008, where she had continued to work on tours (Hunter Hayes, Lady Antebellum, One Direction, Macy Gray, John Fogerty, Liza Minnelli) and develop and budget new shows including the musical ‘Cabaret’. Most recently, both her and Steve had worked on a Banksy exhibition in Israel.
News of her passing saw many figures in the live music industry express their condolences, surprise, and sadness. Some of the responses have been included below.
I was very sad to read the news about the passing of Alia, she was without doubt one of the nicest people I have ever worked with, very bright and always willing to help, she was always calm under pressure. Why do all the good people pass on too early?
Barry Dickins, ITB
Very, very sad news. I had the pleasure of working with her many times over the years. She was a true and warm person, and will be greatly missed.
Thomas Johansson, Live Nation
I remember the first time I joined the ILMC, I met her in the elevator, she asked me my opinion about the conference and she told me how to get the best out of it. It was just less than 2 minutes conversation but she always said hi and mentioned my name the next days we meet during the conference and always asked me how I've been in every year of the conference since then.
I didn’t know her much but what she did for less than two minutes in the elevator, will always stay in my heart for years, forever, she's a nice person. We miss her already. Please accept our deepest sympathy.
Willy Hidayat, My Will Entertainment
Alia was an amazing person filled with so much energy and enthusiasm.
Paul Sergeant, PMU Group
Very sad news. My deepest sympathy goes out to her husband and her family. We must find a cure for this horrible disease that is taking far too many of our friends and family.
A truly sad day, I will miss my friend Alia more than I can say.
Bryan Grant, Britannia Row
I'm so sad to have lost a wonderful, kind, funny friend who meant so much. Alia helped me develop both professionally and personally and was always a sounding board and a moral compass. Whenever I'm unsure about a choice, I still always think, 'What would Alia say?' – I can picture her reply and it's almost always the right one.
Greg Parmley, ILMC
She was so elegant, so nice, so friendly and so unique, that we all will miss her style.
Claudio Trotta, Barley Arts
Sad news indeed. We are all in the hands of God.
Our condolences to Alia’s family and husband, Steve.
Ed Ratnikov, TCI
Alia: a kind, generous and gentle soul who will be sadly missed but fondly remembered.
Chris Kemp, MOM Consultancy
I’m so sorry for the ILMC family, her dearest family, and for all of us, for losing a complete professional but, mostly, an amazing person, a friend, a partner.
Nuno Braamcamp, Ritmos e Blues
Today my world went grayscale with the untimely passing of Alia. I spoke to her last on May 1st. She was so “Alia,” just at terms with the situation and the ultimate outcome. Frankly, I could not find the right words because I didn’t want to admit that her path had been determined, but she knew this and made me feel less awkward with the topic. As always she took charge of the conversation while I fumbled my words. In the Alia trademark way she made things easier, she always did. When the conversation concluded with me saying “take care,” I made a commitment to get to Melbourne to see her soon… I now really regret that I didn’t make it.
My life has been enriched enormously by just knowing this lady. Her attitude, her affection for those she loved. If Alia decided you were her friend, you really knew it. She might not be on the end of the phone or in the ILMC production office anymore but she will be forever in my life because wonderful human beings like her are very rare indeed. Rest in peace, Beautiful.
Don Elford, AEG Ogden
I always appreciated Alia, at Primary, then in the ILMC, and on tour. We had a very nice and friendly relationship.
I will miss her.
I feel so sorry.
Roberto de Luca, Live Nation Italy
Condolences to her family and those close to her.
Alia will be sorely missed.
She was a great producer.
In these moments of loss, there are no words. May her dear soul rest in peace.
Ed Grossman, Brackman Chopra LLP
Can't believe it. Alia was a sunbeam: a wonderful, skilled, smiling and gentle friend. She was one of my lady heroes… always finding the right support at the right time… whether at ILMC in London or a McCartney show in Chicago, or on a Friday 13th at Montreux Jazz in Switzerland. A very dear friend is missing.
Francois Moreillon, Swiss Live Talents
My deepest condolences to the family and her close ones. She filled the room always with love wherever she was. People like her were one of the reasons to come year after year to London.
Richie Mattila, Iso 7 Melnitsa
Alia in 1993 when she was recommended to me as a production assistant for the Peter Gabriel ‘Secret World’ tour. We hunkered down in the Royal Bath and West Showground in Shepton Mallet for a couple of months prior to the tour that was to start in Stockholm. It was quickly apparent that we were about to deliver technologically a groundbreaking show. It was without doubt the hardest tour that I ever worked on. All through rehearsals we often pulled 20-hour days and the tour became a last-man-standing affair with every day off becoming a pre-rig day just to stay abreast of what we had to achieve. Throughout this whole process, the ‘lady in black’ delivered tea, smiles and was so often the glue that kept us all together. Our friendship was forged from that time on, and coming to ILMC every year and seeing her was always a highlight.A true professional but always delivered with that smile and a kind word.
Lee Charteris, event consultant
I was shocked and saddened by the news that Alia has left us. When I arrived at each ILMC, her face was the first one I tried to find in the crowd. And seeing her made me feel like, “Yes, I’m at the ILMC, Alia is here.”
My heart goes out to her family.
She was a star.
She will be sorely missed.
Phil Rodriguez, Move Concerts
I am deeply saddened to hear that wonderful Alia is no longer with us. I completely agree with Martin Hopewell’s definition of Alia’s importance in ILMC development. She was a driving force and also a very nice person which whom I had many, many funny conversations. I will miss her. All my condolences to her family.
Gay Mercader, Live Nation Spain
I will miss her kindness, her patience, her senseof humour and her genuine warmth.
Karsten Jahnke, Karsten Jahnke Concerts
Very sad news. We remember her the way Martin accurately describes her.
Have tears in my eyes.
Will miss her.
Herman Scheuremans, Rock Werchter
Alia was the very first person I ever spoke to at an ILMC many, many years ago. She spotted me hiding behind a tall Scandinavian promoter and made me introduce myself. Afterwards, we talked and she encouraged me not to be intimidated by all the experienced professionals and to always speak up. Advice I have followed all those years and will now be forever linked to the memory of this beautiful soul. I am going to miss her very much.
David Garcia, DEAG Concerts
Alia has touched many people with her vibrant and larger-than-life personality and I will always remember her with her big smile. May she rest in peace.
Mary Telemachou, Half Note Productions
It’s very sad that Alia Dann Swift is not with us anymore. I have been many times to the ILMC and remember her as a wonderful woman, shining, happy, positive and full of good spirit. As a delegate but also as a speaker on various panels I have experienced her as very, very helpful, which made me feel at ease and inspired me to do good things at the Royal Garden Hotel. It is so unfortunate that she did not get more time to live the good life she deserved. Many, many thanks to Alia for giving her best to everyone at the ILMC, she has really brought it forward as everyone wanted. I pay tribute to her as a professional and a person – Alia was a great woman.
Dick Molenaar, All Arts Tax Advisors
As a frequent ILMC delegate, Alia was always the first and friendliest face at ILMC I would see. My first time at ILMC was a little bit overwhelming and to have such a friendly Aussie there to help navigate through the heavy surf of ILMC was a great help.
Forever calm and accommodating, no problem was ever too big to solve or too small for her attention. To sum up Alia, she was simply one of the most lovely people in the business!! It is tragic that at 57 she has been taken away from us and in such sad circumstances; but the mark she made on the ILMC will live on. As Martin says, “there would be no ILMC without Alia” and I couldn’t agree more. She will be sadly missed by all of her friends at Frontier.
Michael Harrison, Frontier Touring
There are some people, actually quite a few people, who still remain when physically they’re gone… Alia is one of these people.
I discovered the other day when contemplating the fact that she had died, and had moved on, that in fact she was still in my head, and that I found myself having a conversation with her.
Some years ago, she and I used to present the newbies briefing at ILMC - Alia would always suggest that we meet up beforehand to prepare for this, a get together that invariably involved a quick snifter - brandy or calvados. Just to ensure that we were relaxed, you understand… Most times we would refer briefly to the job in hand, then talk about other things, many other things… I enjoyed these chats, but it appears that I don’t have to miss them - it seems that they can still take place. So Alia, what shall we talk about? And by the way, what do you think about so and so...I’d appreciate your advice xx
Allan McGowan, ILMC
Alia was a very special lady, and everyone I met had the same opinion: super smart and always had a great human side to the way she went about things.
I have many fond memories but mainly of the special person she was, and will always remember the many many laughs we had together. She will be sorely missed by everyone who knew her.
Paul Franklin, Creative Artists Agency
This is sad news! I am stunned by this! Every time I dealt with that lady she always was extremely responsive and fair. She had the capacity to quickly see through things and to always find a way to make them work, or to gracefully make you understand why “you do not want this.” A true class act! Tempus fugit!
Serge Grimaux, Intellitix
Alia was the ultimate 'diamond geezer'... the best...
She may be gone but she has left a miilion images of her smiling in my head!
God bless you and yours, Lovely.
Carl A H Martin, cahm.uk
Love and condolences to Steve and all the family. I think I first met Alia at a Michael Jackson show at Wembley but I might be wrong. Anyway, it was a long time ago and we have been in touch ever since. She was simply wonderful and I will miss her. Love and best wishes.
Ollie Kite, EST
I didn’t know Alia well; just from being at the ILMC, but she always had time to remember me, a smile, say “hello” and a few words. I knew she worked tirelessly to continue the conference we are all indebted for having. For that I will always be grateful and will always remember her beautiful, smiling face.
Adrian Whitmarsh, Premier Aviation
She was such a great person and always had time for a quick chat or kind word even when in the middle of the ILMC mayhem.
Thomas Ovesen, 117 Live
I am very sorry to hear about Alia's passing. My deepest sympathies go to her immediate family, relatives and closest friends.
Allow me some personal reflections: At the start of ILMC, I think many people felt a little bit lost. It was like a whole new world for a lot of us. What a blessing it was to be able to lean against Alia's professional attitude and positivity in those early years. Through the years that followed, Alia was almost always present, full of whims and new ideas. In an era of stress and lack of time, she always had time to exchange a few kind words. She will be sadly missed.
Jan Gille, Live Nation Sweden
My relationship with Alia started as a work-related contact but blossomed into a treasured friendship almost instantly. I have fond memories of working with her and her gang at the ILMC over the years. She was loyal, funny and classy, an all too rare combination, and our world is a poorer place without her.
Paul Maxwell, Crewe Issue Ltd
I first met and worked with Alia when she came to Asia with REM in 1995. We kept in touch and became friends, a friendship that
grew and has lasted over the past 22 years.
Alia always was a true professional in whatever project she worked on, no matter how big or small. As an often ILMC delegate over the
past 25 years, Alia’s contribution to the conference was exceptional. She had incredible patience and no matter how busy she was, she had the uncanny knack of making you feel as if your question or problem was the only one that mattered.
Her warmth, kindness and that incredible smile that lit up any room, conversation or situation, will be greatly missed. She will be remembered with not only lots of love but with a wry smile - as I’m sure she would want - to celebrate all those fabulous times we all had together. RIP my dear friend and we’ll see you on the other side of the rainbow.
Colleen Ironside, Live Limited, Hong Kong
A few words in honour of a wonderful person and lovely human being.
I first met Alia at the ILMC many years ago, and what struck me was how sincere and open she was. She truly was a wonderful lady, very genuine and honest, and always made time for people no matter how busy she was. She was funny, fantastic company, with a huge creative flair. I had many opportunities over the years to spend time with her during the ILMC and shall really miss her.
My heart goes out to her family and to Steve. RIP Alia. X
Charlie Presburg, VIP-Booking
How much love has poured to Melbourne from around the world these past weeks – to reach out and try to hold her closer, to hold on to her. Simply wishing for a miracle.
How shockingly fast this terrible illness consumed our beloved friend - who, with her normal optimism and incredible strength, dealt with every curve ball thrown at her.
We feel that so many people will join us in feeling such gratitude to Steve and Lynn Curtis – for keeping us updated, when it must have been so difficult for them. So unselfish – just like Alia herself. Steve’s gentle words, so full of love and understanding – simply honouring everything that Alia would wish for.
We had the great joy of working with Alia on various occasions over the years. Particularly on Paul McCartney and Joe Cocker.
Of course, for so long, everyone has known her as ‘The Face and The Heart of the ILMC’ – warm, welcoming, creative - FUN!!
Seeing so many tributes, it’s quite hard to find more adequate words to describe Alia. It is so clear how many people she touched – and the depth of love and respect she had from each and every one of them. We have been blessed that she was in our lives – and privileged that we were able to share part of her journey.
All we can say is, be at peace, dear Alia. Fly on wings to a new adventure – but know that you will always be in our hearts, and your spirit will continue on. And, whenever we think of you – which will be often – your amazing smile will radiate in our minds' eye – and that, in turn, will always make US smile. With our love...
Barrie, Jenny, Doris, Rachel, and all the Marshall Arts family
As well as being synonymous with the ILMC, we knew Alia for a long time through her work with various tours over the years. In particular we remember when she was in Dublin with Michael Flatley for the creation, rehearsals and world premiere of 'Lord Of The Dance.' During a process that, at that time, was very new to everybody, Alia was the ‘go to’ person for everyone from the cast and crew to the promoter. She had a complete understanding of what was involved in putting together a brand new show and always showed great empathy to all involved.
Wherever in the world you met Alia, she was always so pleased to see you and made sure you were looked after. To sum it up, she was a real lady. Alia was really one of a kind and will be deeply missed by all those in Aiken Promotions who had the good fortune to meet and work with her.
Peter Aiken, Aiken Promotions
Her smile and positivity will remain with all of us who had the good fortune to know her. She will be dearly missed.
Henry McGroggan, Central European Organisation
I still cannot believe that Alia has left us. I first worked with her on ILMC5 in 1993. She came to us with a wealth of experience at that time and it was a joy to work with her and appreciate her organisational skills and ‘can do’ attitude. We were reunited again in 2000 when she took on the role of conference producer and we worked very closely thereafter until our final conference together in 2014. Her professionalism shone through everything she did. She had a great attention to detail and her budgets were extraordinarily accurate. She handpicked a great team of hardworking and committed individuals that successfully ran the conference for many years with Alia leading from the front.
Alia called me her ‘Jiminy Cricket’ (advice giver and conscience), a title which I cherished greatly.
She had a quirky sense of humour that I will miss deeply and like all great people she was more than happy to laugh at her own expense.
She was a great humanitarian and was deeply compassionate. She would often put others first. She was extremely sympathetic to colleagues during times of illness or bereavement. When my wife Chantal died in 2004, Alia rang me every day for at least a month to check up on me. This is a gesture that I will never forgot. [Her husband] Steve Swift was equally supportive and you can see why they were so well matched.
I introduced my new partner (and now wife) Roslyn to Alia and the IMC team in March 2009. Alia made Roslyn very welcome and gave us a bottle of champagne that day to celebrate our new relationship. Roslyn became very fond of Alia as she embraced all the quality characteristics that we had known about for years. At our wedding in Ireland last month I read out a beautiful note that Alia sent us on 27 April finishing with the line ‘In our dreams, we dance at your wedding.’
I am so sorry for Steve, and I wish him all the best during this very difficult time.
We have a lovely saying in Irish which says Ní bheidh a leithéid arís ann and means we shall not see their like again. I think that is most apt for Alia. A unique, special, and inspiring person. My dear friend.
Peter Maloney, Primary Talent
I met Alia at Primary Talent and we very quickly went on to have a lovely friendship for many years. Alia insisted that I remained part of the ILMC production team for many years and had the ability to get me to dress up yearly in funky costumes for the Arthurs Awards.
Alia was amazing, warm, loving, caring, clever, elegant, vibrant, loyal…..I could go on and on! She was my friend, my dearly loved friend of over 25 years and I miss her so much – a void that cannot be filled. We had so many, many laughs and happy times and I will remember those forever.
“There is a sacredness in tears.
They are not the mark of weakness, but of power.
They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues.
They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.”
- Washington Irving
Rest in peace my beautiful friend until we meet again for more laughs and a teeny bit a mayhem. My condolences to her gorgeous, loving husband Steve.
Caroline Wade, ILMC
I have just read about the untimely death of Alia Dann Swift and wanted to pass a story of my first time meeting this amazing person.
I was, in 2005, a recent former member of HM Royal Marines and was at college in Brighton under the tuition of Jon Stewart who recommended me for a position at the ILMC for my past skills in the Forces. I arrived in London a little scared but keen to work hard for the week. I met Alia immediately, who had a phone by her ear, caffeine on the table and a runner sent out for Wagamama’s. She was an incredible organiser and I wanted to show her my keenness as a former Forces person. She set me the task of runner, which I was happy to conduct, but something happened that afternoon which changed things for me and had me coming back the following year. A young student from the same college was meant to turn up to work and hadn’t and Alia, busy as ever, asked if I could call him to find out where he was. He was giving me some flippant excuse down the phone and as a Royal Marine of 9 years I gave him a proper bollocking down the phone. Alia was sat right in front of me with her jaw open. I hung up and she said “I’m giving you more money, you’re also going to be in charge of my stores area.” I was promptly shown the cacophony of the stores area, tidied it and had it operational that day. She was tremendous and I remember thinking that I would like to have gained more experience from her. She had an incredible leadership quality and work ethic and managed to balance that all by being a thoroughly lovely person.
Matt Hobson, Drummer/Percussionist