Great music requires great musicians. But for great music to find an audience, it requires the hard work, often unnoticed, of others to connect the great musicians with the listening public. Unfortunately, it sometimes take death for such efforts to be recognized. I never heard of Rick Van Santen until seeing his obituary, but he was crucial to the L.A. concert scene as a promoter for punk shows that others were too wary or unimaginative to work on.
Back in 1986, I heard of Ruth Polsky when Rolling Stone ran an obituary
for her. The irony was that, had she lived, I would have met her but never
known that she embodied my career goal at the time. An American who loved
British music, she booked the first U.S. tours for many English bands that
would become quite influential. At the time of her death, I think in a car
accident, she was scheduled to manage the New Order tour that was playing
at my college and for which I worked backstage. In other words, I might have
served her lasagna without knowing that she was my role model.