SXSW Co-founder Dies, Aged 60, On First Day Of 2016 Event

14 March 2016 | 3:41 pm | Staff Writer

Louis Meyers sold his portion of the annual industry mecca more than 20 years ago

Louis Meyers, one of the co-founders of the famed South By Southwest industry event in Austin, Texas, died of a heart attack aged 60 at the weekend, on the annual festival's opening day for 2016.

Per Variety, Meyers started SXSW in 1987 with fellow founders Roland Swenson, Nick Barbaro, Louis Black, Joe Rae DiMenno and Linda Owen, ultimately selling his portion in 1994 due to 'burnout' (or, as Barbaro put it in a memorial post on SXSW's website, "he was 'tired of being the most hated man in Austin music' because of all the acts he had to turn down").

"I was in a van with several other SXSW staff, on our way to hear President Obama's keynote address, when we got the totally unexpected news that Louis Jay Meyers had just passed away in a hospital in South Austin," Barbaro wrote on SXSW's website. 

"I had just heard last night that he had been admitted with 'extremely low blood pressure,' and had been trying to find out more, and make plans to see him, maybe tomorrow, when today's madness was over. Now..."

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As Barbaro explains, Meyers served as SXSW's Music Festival Director for "the first, seminal period for the event", coming from a background as a manager and promoter.

Post-SXSW, he stayed active in music, "living in Amsterdam for a while, settling in Kansas City to run the Folk Art Alliance for over a decade, and, always, playing his beloved banjo and pedal steel guitar".

As always, this year's SXSW welcomes a broad array of Aussies to its ranks over the next week, including Big White, DMA's, DZ Deathrays, Gang Of Youths, 8 Ball Aitken, Stonefield, Tigertown, Harts, Wave Racer and more. The event kicks on in Austin through till this Sunday, 20 March.