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“In Their Own Words” Woody Graber

South Florida Concert Memories


We reached out to dozens of South Florida music personalities and industry veterans for their favorite South Florida concert memory. Stay tuned each month for many exciting stories! Want to share yours? E-Mail us at info@SFLMusic.com


I have been working as a publicist in South Florida for quite a few years. While I have handled a number of different clients, I am perhaps best known for my work in the concert industry. The events of the night of Thursday, May 6th, 2004, were probably the strangest situation I have ever been part of.

That night at the Knight Center in downtown Miami David Bowie was the scheduled performer. It was a sold-out show with approximately 4600 people in attendance. I was there for Clear Channel Entertainment (as the entity was then called) as publicist and media wrangler, which meant I had to keep the photographers in line, and I am really good at that.

I had about 10 photographers approved to shoot that night. After the first three songs of the blistering set of Stereophonics, Bowie’s opener, I took the photogs out to the venue lobby to wait until they could be brought back in to photo the rest of the show.

It was a relaxing night, and everyone seemed to be in good spirits. About five minutes before Bowie would take the stage, I brought the photogs back in. They were not positioned down in front but in a walkway behind the first section of seats. While waiting we heard a loud thump on stage right behind the curtain. I knew something was wrong and made sure the photographers stayed in their places with their cameras down. A short time later a marketing rep for the company came to me and whispered that the concert was being cancelled and I needed to remove all the photogs from the venue. I quickly did that without answering their questions and put them all on the escalator down to the main hotel lobby. I also informed security not to let any cameras or news people up to the venue lobby. An announcement was made of the cancellation and the crowds exited the venue.

When I went back in, I met with the producer of the show who informed me that one of the lighting techs had climbed up the wire ladder and had not hooked up his safety harness. He fell fifty feet down to his death. He was a veteran stagehand of more than 20 years. A rare occurrence, but nonetheless, a sad one.

Bowie and his people felt that after this event they could not continue the show. They released a statement of condolence and left town. To my knowledge, Bowie never performed again in Miami.

After that the night was filled with drama dealing with the media and really not having any direct answers to give them. We needed to get reports and were not about to give out misinformation or conjecture. It was certainly a night I will not forget.

For many years Woody Graber has been considered one of the preeminent concert publicist in the country.  He has promoted thousands of shows over the years including major Festivals such as Ultra, Wanee and Tortuga.  He has also promoted some of South Florida’s legendary music venues including Woody’s On The Beach and The Stephen Talkhouse.  He is considered a pioneer and leader in the revival of South Beach and has been recognized by the City of Miami Beach and others for his efforts.

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