Steve O'Rourke, Pink Floyd manager and keen racing driver, sadly passed away in Miami, Florida, USA, on October 1st, 2003.
His funeral service was held on November 14th at Chichester Cathedral in Sussex, England, where as a tribute to Steve, it is believed that David, Richard and Nick performed together again.
They were said to have played at the private service "Fat Old Sun" and "Great Gig In The Sky", with Dick Parry playing the saxophone as he followed the coffin... a fitting tribute to the man who took a big part in shaping the band's career.
Steve O'Rourke managed Pink Floyd since 1968 when he was still with the Bryan Morrison Agency. He founded his own companies, EMKA Productions Limited and EMKA Racing; EMKA is from the first letters of Emma and Katherine, his daughters' names.
In March 2003, we heard that a "slight heart problem" ended his
successful auto racing career, and on October 30 we sadly received the
news that he had suffered a fatal stroke. Tim Sugden, his racing
partner since 1996, said upon O'Rourke's early retirement that "Steve
epitomised the spirit of the gentleman racer: he ran a superb team, he
treated everyone extremely well, and he loved his racing -- perhaps
more the historics than anything else. We were going to have a very
good year together..."
O'Rourke was on the Pink Floyd soccer team in the 1970s and was
pictured with the team on the album "A Nice Pair". His phone call to
Gilmour at the end of "The Division Bell" ended with a hangup by
Gilmour's stepson Charlie. In 1991, O'Rourke participated in the
Mexican sports car road race La Carrera Panamericana, co-driving with
David Gilmour, who was at the wheel when their car went off the road
and over a drop-off near San Luis Potpoli, breaking both of Steve's
legs. In 1998, his GTC Motorsport EMI/EMKA team finished first in class
and fourth overall in the 66th running of the 24-hour Le Mans (France)
sports car race. It was his seventh appearance at the race, this time
with Tim Sugden (GB) and Bill Auberlen (US).
In the mid-1990s O'Rourke talked to fan Sean Heisler regarding the
Publius Enigma, and I transcribed the interview for Brain Damage. While
categorically denying it was from Pink Floyd, O'Rourke said his own son
was a member of the Usenet newsgroup where it was revealed, and he
encouraged fans to persist in attempting to solve it. He thought
something was likely to come of our efforts...
From The Telegraph newspaper, UK, 5th November 2003
Steve O'Rourke, who has died aged 63, managed the rock band Pink Floyd for 35 years and was one of the British music industry's most respected backroom figures.
Tall, well-built and lantern-jawed, O'Rourke combined charm with an
irrestible forcefulness as he negotiated with record company
executives, publishers and promoters. He was described by one associate
as a "streetfighter, a larger than life character who knew both his own
strengths and weaknesses".
But while he was regarded as a formidable operator, he was not without
humility. "They wouldn't let me into this building," he once joked to a
companion, as they walked into a New York record company, "if I wasn't
the manager of Pink Floyd."
Steve O'Rourke was born at Willesden on October 1 1940. His father,
Tommy, had come to London from the Aran Islands off the west coast of
Ireland in 1934, for the premiere of Robert T Flaherty's drama
documentary Man of Aran, in which he appeared as a shark hunter. He
settled thereafter in north-west London, where his son would be
On leaving school Steve O'Rourke trained in accounting and at one stage
took a job selling pet food. (In later years, whenever O'Rourke became
involved in arguments with Pink Floyd's Roger Waters, the musician
would dismiss O'Rourke's contribution with, "What do you know? You're
only a pet-food salesman!")
But O'Rourke had been drawn to the music business in his teens, joining
the London City Agency before being recruited by Tony Howard of the
Bryan Morrison Agency as a junior agent and book-keeper. Morrison
managed The Pretty Things, The Incredible String Band, Tyrannosaurus
Rex and Fairport Convention. The agency also handled Pink Floyd,
booking gigs at such leading London venues as Blaises, The Cromwellian
and The Speakeasy.
In the mid-1960s, bands made their living from gigs. Groups who were
successful might perform eight or nine times a week and two or three
times a day at weekends. O'Rourke, with Tony Howard, masterminded the
Floyd's progress as they became popular beyond the confines of London.
They were not an easy band to book, having no string of single hits and
no covers; moreover, they had a light show (unheard of at the time),
and they performed long, improvised versions of songs, unlike most
other bands on the circuit.
O'Rourke assumed the day-to-day running of Pink Floyd in mid-1968,
taking over, after the departure of Syd Barrett, from their original
managers Peter Jenner and Andrew King, and continued when the Bryan
Morrison Agency's management arm was bought by the Beatles' company,
NEMS. At that time, music management for contemporary bands was new
territory; O'Rourke redefined the role of manager as he relentlessly
built Pink Floyd's career. He was also exceptionally protective of the
band's image, providing an environment in which its creativity and
artistic integrity was the priority.
Leaving NEMS in the early 1970s, O'Rourke founded EMKA Productions,
named after his daughter Emma Kate. As well as handling Pink Floyd's
activities, he also managed the solo careers of individual Floyd
members David Gilmour, Nick Mason and Rick Wright. While the band was
recording its landmark album Dark Side of the Moon, O'Rourke negotiated
a lucrative move from the Capitol to Columbia labels, while in Britain
the group remained with Harvest EMI.
O'Rourke also built a highly successful parallel career as an
enthusiastic gentleman racing driver - a lifelong passion which he
shared with the Floyd's drummer Nick Mason and, to a lesser extent,
with David Gilmour. He adored Historic racing with cars of the 1950s,
1960s and 1970s.
His ambition to compete in the greatest sports car race of all - the Le
Mans 24-Hours classic - was realised in 1979 when he finished a
creditable 12th, driving a 190mph Ferrari 512 BB. Having bought the
car, he returned to Le Mans in 1980; but after a tyre exploded at
nearly 200mph on the Mulsanne Straight, O'Rourke bought the spare tail
of a retired sister Ferrari in the pit lane in order to finish. His car
completed the race wearing green forward bodywork and a red tail.
In 1981 his EMKA racing team ran a BMW M1 Coupe at Le Mans, with
O'Rourke co-driving with David Hobbs and Eddie Jordan - today the head
of Jordan F1. O'Rourke left the circuit on the night of the race to
oversee a Pink Floyd concert in London, flew back the next morning and
jumped straight into the car for another two-hour driving stint.
After coming second in the Silverstone 6-Hours and winning his class in
the Brands Hatch 6-Hours, O'Rourke had his own EMKA-Aston Martin built
specially for Le Mans in 1983; the next year this exceptionally
attractive car briefly led the 24-Hours in the hands of co-driver Tiff
Needell, and finished ahead of the works-backed Jaguars, to O'Rourke's
great amusement. In 1991 he and David Gilmour co-drove a C-Type Jaguar
in the PanAmerican retro race through Mexico, surviving a dramatic
In 1997 O'Rourke had his greatest racing success, co-driving a
second-hand McLaren F1 GTR at Le Mans with Tim Sugden and Bill Auberlen
to finish fourth overall. Having saved money by refusing the costly
update pack for the McLaren, O'Rourke typically spent as much again on
a huge party for all concerned in the EMKA team's success.
From 2000 O'Rourke campaigned Porsche cars in the FIA and British GT
Championships until he was forced to retire from driving for health
reasons; he had presided over the drivers Tim Sugden and Emmanuel
Collard as they won this year in Sicily and Sweden. Porsche responded
by offering racing assistance to the EMKA factory for 2004 - a decision
which delighted O'Rourke.
Equally highly-regarded in both the music and motor racing worlds,
O'Rourke was an active supporter of charities; he was a trustee of The
Music Sound Foundation and of Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy.
After suffering a fatal stroke, he died in Miami, Florida, on October
30. Steve O'Rourke was twice married, and leaves two daughters and
© The Telegraph, 2003
From The Independent newspaper, UK, 3rd November 2003
Stephen O'Rourke, rock-group manager: born London 1 October 1940; twice
married (one son, two daughters; died Miami, Florida 30 October 2003.
Steve O'Rourke was one of the most important and powerful figures in
British rock group management. He was charged with the responsibility
of looking after the often complex and tumultuous affairs of Pink
Floyd. He guided their career during three decades of achievement that
followed in the wake of their enormously successful 1973 album The Dark
Side of the Moon.
O'Rourke also had to deal with the departure of the songwriter Roger
Waters from the group in 1983 and the problems this caused. He oversaw
the band's return to active touring and recording during the Nineties
under the leadership of Dave Gilmour and helped to ensure that Pink
Floyd remained a major musical force that enjoyed undiminished
While not such a flamboyant character as other managers of his
generation, such as Peter Grant with Led Zeppelin, nevertheless
O'Rourke had a reputation as a tough negotiator, who was not afraid to
take on the record-industry giants. The huge success of Pink Floyd
meant that he could indulge in his other passion for motor sport and he
was as well known in the world of motor racing as he was in the rock
Steve O'Rourke became the manager of Pink Floyd in 1968. He had been
working as an accountant for the Bryan Morrison Agency that handled
such acts as Tyrannosaurus Rex. Andrew King and Peter Jenner of
Blackhill Enterprises, who were part of the burgeoning London
"underground" movement in the later Sixties, had previously managed the
Floyd. When the band's brilliant but wayward singer and composer Syd
Barrett was asked to leave the group in April 1968, due to his
increasingly erratic behaviour, the two managers decided to look after
Barrett and develop his solo career, rather than continue to handle
Pink Floyd. Roger Waters recalled:
"We had been managed by Blackhill
Enterprises. When Syd flipped the band wanted to keep him but he wanted
to add to two saxophone players and a girl singer. We said, "No!" Peter
and Andrew thought it couldn't happen without Syd so they stuck with
him and that's how Pink Floyd came to be managed by Steve O'Rourke."
The Bryan Morrison Agency, which handled the Floyd's bookings, was
subsequently sold to Brian Epstein's NEMS company and O'Rourke went to
work for them in their management department. When the band left NEMS
they took O'Rourke with them and he remained their manager for the next
35 years. He set up his own London based Emka Productions and also
handled the solo careers of the individual Floyd members Dave Gilmour,
Nick Mason and Rick Wright. Roger Waters once described him as the
strong man they needed in a tough industry:
"Steve is an effective hustler, a man in
a man's world. And to give him his due he never gave up his job of
trying to get me to fill stadiums."
While the band were recording The Dark Side of the Moon he began
intense negotiations with American record companies which resulted in
their leaving Capitol and moving to Columbia, with whom he struck a
lucrative deal in 1973. In the UK they remained with Harvest EMI.
Those who knew O'Rourke during the Seventies remember him as a hard
worker and stickler for efficiency. Glen Colson, a former promotions
"He was a terrific business manager for
the Floyd. I remember I was late in the office one morning and he
bought me a watch. It was a kind of message to get in on time but I
noticed the watch had cost him £400."
However the mounting pressure on O'Rourke meant that he sometimes
needed to escape to a Greek island for holidays, where there were no
telephones and he could ignore the desperate pleas of rival record
companies, desperate to sign the Floyd.
As well as his involvement in rock management O'Rourke was also a film
producer and was executive producer for their successful 1982 film The
Wall which starred Bob Geldof. He loved to keep fit and was a member of
the Pink Floyd soccer team during the Seventies.
A keen racing enthusiast, he owned his own vintage 1957 BRM racing car,
which he displayed at Goodwood, Silverstone and at other events. His
racing career began in 1979; he entered several times in the 24 hour Le
Mans race in France and in 1985 finished 11th. It proved a dangerous
sport however and he broke both legs in a crash in 1991. He had his own
Team Emka racing team and owned an especially designed Aston Martin.
Heart problems meant that he had recently had to give up motor racing.
In the mid-Eighties O'Rourke had to cope with the crisis caused by
Roger Waters's departure from Floyd and the band's subsequent decision
to continue touring and recording against Waters's wishes. Eventually
Waters would continue his own solo career without O'Rourke while Floyd
remained under his management.
Steve O'Rourke had recently attended an exhibition in Paris, "Pink
Floyd Interstellar", inaugurated by the French Culture Minister. The
exhibition would "pay tribute to the important contribution of Pink
Floyd to the musical history of the 20th century".
Chris Welch, © The Independent 2003.