Local Current Blog

Prominent Twin Cities concert promoter Sue McLean passes away

suemcleanSue McLean, a high-profile concert promoter in the Twin Cities and the largest independent female promoter in the world, passed away today from cancer. She was 63.

McLean had a 30-plus year career promoting concerts in Minnesota, starting with booking local bands like the Suicide Commandos and Curtiss A in the ’70s, working as the talent buyer at Duffy’s Nightclub, moving on to the Guthrie Theater to work as Special Events Director in the early ’90s and eventually starting her own company. Sue McLean & Associates was formed in 1998 and has been responsible for booking all 18 Basilica Block Parties, the Music in the Zoo concert series at the Minnesota Zoo, and concerts at the Guthrie—not to mention countless shows at other venues in town, ranging from the historic theaters to clubs.

In addition to maintaining a powerhouse position in the concert industry, McLean was also a highly respected and likable figure in the community, known for her honesty, her integrity, and her love of music and people.

“I like bringing people together, the community of it all. That’s my big thing,” she told Jon Bream as part of an in-depth profile of her business last year. “I get a really good sense of fulfillment, like when we’re at the zoo and there’s all these people having a shared good time.”

She has also spent much of her career promoting self esteem in young women. Over the years she has mentored young students in Minneapolis, created the St. Catherine University Women of Substance Series, and more recently launched the TweenTown Girls Camp in Excelsior, a rock ‘n’ roll camp that was inspired by her experiences raising her adopted daughter, Lilly.

“She was a great woman and an inspiration to all, whether you worked in music or not,” Josh Lacey wrote today. Lacey manages the Varsity Theater and is just one of many, many people to have worked closely with McLean. Musician Kevin Bowe added: “30 years of friendship and never a cross word, she was one of the most purely FUN people I’ll ever know.”

The following statement was posted on Sue McLean & Associates’ website tonight:

Sue McLean and Associates is sad to share that we have lost our dear leader, friend, colleague and family member. Sue McLean died of cancer today, May 17th, at her home surrounded in spirit by all who loved her, her daughter Lilly, family, and friends. Funeral services will be on May 24th at 11AM at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis. Visitation will be 9:30AM to 11AM in the church prior to the mass, with a reception following the funeral. Music tribute concert and memorial details to come. Thank you for your prayers and support.

“Live Music is Good for Your Soul”


  • Rick

    This is a huge loss for the local music community. May she rest in peace.

  • liza

    I know so many people who know and respect Sue McLean. My heart goes out to Lilly.

  • callajester

    Wow! We lost one of the good ones……..being a woman having worked in this industry, I can truly appreciate her contribution

  • Nick Puchtel

    Sue McLean was one of the best people on earth I’ve known! The world lost one of its greats today!

  • What sadness and I only met Sue a time or two. Reading about her inspires me to purge forward and try to be half the person you all knew her as. My heart goes out to this family and a big thank you Sue for all the good times I had at your concerts.

  • A huge and terrible loss for the entire community.

  • Sharon Rolenc

    Our family is heartbroken. While my husband and I have enjoyed countless concerts over the years that Sue McLean brought to the Twin Cities, that’s not how we knew her. She was Lilly’s mom. While Sue was a tough-as-nails business woman, she had a soft spot for girls and the promotion of “girl power.” Sue was genuinely kind and possessed endless patience for tween girls. What a terrible loss for Lilly. What a terrible loss for this next generation of young women. The Twin Cities skyline will twinkle a lot less in her absence.

  • JD

    A good friend of the Twin Cities, of Little Feat, and of mine. Sue was the promoter who was responsible for bringing so
    much live music to Minnesota for as long as I’ve been here, 30 years.
    She had a knack of making you feel important, no matter what your role
    with the band was. She was the one who convinced me that you didn’t have
    to be a musician to make music your life, or to bring music to the
    world around you. RIP Sue, thanks for everything.

  • As a semi-regular volunteer for Sue/SMA, this is rather heartbreaking. I frankly had no idea of her condition, but then again, I haven’t actually worked/dealt or even spoken directly with Sue in a number of years. But there’s no question she will be missed. I have confidence the people who run her organization will continue to do the good work they have been known for.

    Hey, she has booked Dream Theater the last 6 or 7 tours they’ve come to Minnesota, along with some of the other progressive rock acts. I’m just guessing that not every other promoter in town would have been as willing to do so, and for that and someone who loves and tries to help bring progressive rock concerts to Minnesota, I am extremely grateful for her/SMA for doing so.