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Ian Copeland, at 57; promoter helped bring 'New Wave' music to US

LOS ANGELES -- Ian Copeland, a pioneering booking agent and music promoter credited with helping launch the ``New Wave" alternative rock movement of the 1970s and `80s with such bands as the Police, the B-52's, and R.E.M, died Tuesday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 57.

He had melanoma.

Mr. Copeland was one of three brothers who became prominent figures in the music industry. Younger brother Stewart was the drummer for The Police. Older sibling Miles founded record label International Records Syndicate. An older sister, Lorraine, is a writer and producer.

``Ian, as his autobiography would suggest, was a wild thing," Mr. Copeland's brothers said in a statement yesterday.

``He had an exciting and a fulfilling life that touched many people and left them all the richer for it," they said. ``He was not only our brother, but a maverick partner to Stewart and I and so many others in this crazy world of entertainment."

Mr. Copeland was born in Damascus in the middle of a coup in Syria. His father was the late Miles Copeland Jr., a jazz trumpeter-turned CIA officer.

The young Mr. Copeland spent much of his childhood traveling around the Middle East. In 1967, he joined the US Army and was sent to fight in Vietnam, where he earned a Bronze Star.

After his service in Vietnam, Mr. Copeland moved to London, where Miles, who had just broke into the music industry, helped him get as job as a booking agent.

In the mid-1970s, Mr. Copeland moved to Macon, Ga., where he worked for an agency booking tours for several Southern rock groups, including Charlie Daniels, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and The Allman Brothers Band.

Word of London's emerging punk rock scene attracted Mr. Copeland, who tried to get his agency to bring the raw new British bands to US venues.

It didn't work. But when his brother Miles signed the British band Squeeze, the two siblings arranged for the band to tour small clubs in the United States to drum up support for the band's albums, which had been selling well in England.

Mr. Copeland joined his brother's firm, International Records Syndicate (IRS), and they promoted many more bands, including the B-52s, in the United States.

Their strategy of using small clubs, mostly near college campuses, was considered key in introducing punk and new wave music to America.

In 1978, Mr. Copeland moved to New York and launched his own booking company, Frontier Booking International.

The Police became FBI's first big hit. After the band broke up, lead singer Sting stayed with FBI.

The young talent agency soon generated other successes, representing New Wave acts such as Adam Ant, The Bangles, The Smiths, The Thompson Twins, The Fixx, UB40, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Oingo Boingo, the Dead Kennedys, and the Cure.

Mr. Copeland published his autobiography, ``Wild Thing: The Backstage, On the Road, In the Studio, Off the Charts Memoirs of Ian Copeland," in 1995.

In recent years, he launched a restaurant in Beverly Hills, The Backstage Cafe.

In addition to his brothers and sister, Mr. Copeland leaves two daughters, Chandra and Barbara, and his mother, Lorraine.

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