Stu Green, 67, of Midnight Sun Co., dies of lung cancer

Posted: September 05, 2012

HOW MUCH of a music freak was Stu Green?

As a teenager in the 1960s, he'd "stay up all night listening to the Doug Henderson Rocketship Show on the radio," younger brother Rick Green recalled Monday.

"And he told me he literally walked from his house in Teaneck, N.J., to the Apollo Theater in Harlem [crossing the George Washington Bridge] so he could take in big R&B shows," said Stu Green's daughter, Georgia. "James Brown, Otis Redding and Jackie Wilson were his special favorites," she added. "Dad went to the Apollo so often the security guy at the front door started greeting him. As the only white guy in the house, I guess dad really stood out."

Best known here as co-operator with brother Rick of the Midnight Sun Co. - a show-promoting company and later, artist-management company - Stu Green died Friday of lung cancer at age 67. "He was at home in Swarthmore where he wanted to be, with the Otis Redding station playing on Pandora," said Georgia.

Kind, jovial and culturally engaged, Green was the front guy and life coach of Midnight Sun, while Rick was and remains "more the back office, serious business guy," said Stu's daughter.

The Greens and Midnight Sun enjoyed an especially high profile in this city in the early 1970s as promoters of shows at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby, where David Bowie, Genesis, the Talking Heads, Black Sabbath and Bruce Springsteen were first elevated to theater headliners and where Stevie Wonder premiered his new, progressive "Songs in the Key of Life" music.

Fronted by Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath's date at the Tower was their American debut. They were such novices they didn't know their British-made amplifiers would blow up if plugged into U.S. power outlets. That bad move forced a postponement of the Tower gig to the tail end of the tour "when they'd become much better known, even had groupies," Stu Green would recall.

Talking Heads debuted their cover of Al Green's "Take Me To the River" as an encore at the Tower and the treatment so excited Stu Green that the band decided to issue it as their next, career-making single.

Likewise, Bowie "literally broke in America because of his Tower shows, from his fall of '72 debut of the 'Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars' show to the release of the 'David Live' album recorded there a couple years later," believes Michael Tearson, then a mainstay of WMMR, now heard on Sirius/XM, WMGK and radiothatdoesntsuck.com.

When the Green brothers began booking contemporary rock and soul shows into the Tower in 1971, this writer celebrated "at last Philadelphia has a concert hall like the Fillmore." Added Tearson, "the Greens made it possible for rival concert operators to operate in this town, creating a more vibrant music scene."

Midnight Sun could not gain access to producing shows at the Spectrum. That sparked a Green brothers lawsuit (eventually settled) against the South Philly arena's show-producing partner, Electric Factory Concerts, and may have also had something to do with a Department of Justice antitrust investigation of the dominant promoter (now part of Live Nation). But Midnight Sun did manage to put on the occasional big concert at the Civic Center (convention hall), including the Grateful Dead's legendary "wall of sound" show and Genesis' "Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" rock opera.

Stu Green got the music promotion bug as a student at the University of Pennsylvania, booking the infamous Doug Clark and the Hot Nuts for Penn and Temple fraternity house parties. After dropping out of school, Stu moved west and, with financial assistance from his father (a self-made New Jersey trucking company owner), opened the Mammoth Gardens rock club in a former Denver ice-skating rink.

"Dad didn't know that a local politician had made it his mission to drive the emerging hippie culture from town. So the club ran into all kinds of obstacles and only lasted a couple years," said Georgia.

Green finished his undergraduate degree at the University of Arizona (he'd also later study and briefly practice law), but then returned east and with Rick went into "fallback position," said Georgia. They made a deal with the Tower-owning A.M. Ellis Theater chain to put on shows in the former vaudeville house, starting with a June 14, 1972, booking of Dave Mason.

They put on about 125 shows until the rug was pulled out from under them in 1975, Rick Green said. A member of the Ellis clan sold off the Tower real estate to rival Electric Factory Concerts for $350,000 and the brothers were out on their collective duff. They'd then regroup as a Media-based management and booking agency for popular bands like Mr. Greengenes, which recently announced its pending retirement.

"Dad was always on the cutting edge and stayed that way until the end - going to shows and taking in the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival," noted Georgia Green. "His favorite contemporary band was Wilco - he'd never miss one of their shows. But he was definitely still a roots guy. He loved Philadelphia music culture and history and guys like The Geator [Jerry Blavat] who kept it alive."

Besides his Newtown Square-based brother and daughter, who lives in Truckee, Calif., Stu Green is survived by his sister Amanda Green of Littleton, Colo. The body was cremated. No memorial service has been planned.


Contact Jonathan Takiff at takiffj@phillynews.com or 215-854-5960. Read his blog at philly.com/GizmoGuy.

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