SXSW Creative Director Brent Grulke Dead At 52

14 August 2012 | 11:26 am | Scott Fitzsimons

The industry supremo died of a heart attack

Brent Grulke, Creative Director of the South By Southwest [SxSW] conference and showcase and music industry supremo, has died following a heart attack. He was 52.

Rising through the ranks of the conference since it was founded in 1987, he became the creative director in 1994 and is largely credited with turning SxSW into the industry event it is today. According to the Austin Chronicle the attack came following oral surgery.

Grulke's death, which leaves behind his wife and a six-year-old son, comes as a surprise to many and Grulke had recently been in London celebrating the Olympics.

In a letter today close friend and Australia's SxSW representative Phil Tripp said that he was told the news this morning by another member of the local music industry who held close ties to Grulke.

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He recalled, "The night before the music conference in Sydney at Tetsuya's that we had planned for months with fellow raconteurs and connoisseurs of vinous and distilled spirits-Jeff Price of Tunecore and Ted Cohen. Each of us brought a special bottle of wine, we ploughed through 14 courses and finished off the night without casualty. Brent, as always, was a wry wit, a perfect gentleman and all around great guy to be with.

"Those qualities are the ones I will remember, not the sadness of today discovering that I lost a 'family member' from my team of tight comrades who I have grown over a decade to fondly work with. He can't be replaced but he will always be remembered in my life.

"I feel for you Bud in this time and especially with Louis going through his challenges, but we'll soldier on and keep the light burning bright."