Ian Copeland, 57; Booking Agent for New Wave, Punk Bands, Including the Police

Times Staff Writer

Ian Copeland, a booking agent who helped the Police and other new wave and punk bands break into the U. S. music scene by stitching together a club circuit that the bands could play, has died. He was 57.

Copeland died Tuesday of melanoma at his home in Los Angeles, his family announced.

He created the club circuit by contacting owners of discos that were going out of business.


Groups such as R.E.M., Nine Inch Nails and the B-52s benefited. About the same time, he launched his own agency, Frontier Booking International in New York.

More recently, he was the principal owner of Ian Copeland’s Backstage Cafe in Beverly Hills, where top musicians have been known to jam.

He was once considered the least famous of the Copeland brothers. One brother, Stewart, was the drummer with the Police, while another, Miles, ran I.R.S. Records, the indie label that produced and managed R.E.M., the Go-Go’s and Wall of Voodoo.

“Everybody has always said my brother Ian would have been a more charismatic rock star than anybody he has ever represented,” Stewart Copeland told People magazine in 1995. “But instead of shouting to a sea of faces, he’d much rather sit at the dinner table and regale everybody personally.”

Born April 25, 1949, in Damascus, Syria, Copeland was the son of Miles Copeland Jr., a U.S. intelligence officer, and Lorraine, a Scottish-born archeologist. Much of his childhood was spent traveling in the Middle East.

After teenage years that were admittedly inauspicious -- Copeland fell in with a motorcycle gang given to petty crime -- he joined the Army in 1967 and served with distinction in Vietnam.

Years after entering the music business, he said, “When I was in the monsoon rains of Vietnam, I didn’t think anything could be worse. Since then, I’ve been in boardroom meetings where I would have traded for that foxhole.”

He moved to London, where Miles helped him get a job as a booking agent. With the popularity of Southern rock in the mid-1970s, Copeland moved to Macon, Ga., where he worked for the Paragon Agency, which booked tours for such acts as the Charlie Daniels Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers Band.

When Paragon folded, Copeland opened his own agency, which represented Sting after the Police disbanded, the Bangles, the Fixx, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Oingo Boingo, the Dead Kennedys, the Cure and others.

In 1992, the agency merged with InterTalent, which disbanded three years later.

His autobiography, “Wild Thing: The Backstage, on the Road, in the Studio, Off the Charts Memoirs of Ian Copeland,” was released in 1995.

He was a divorced father of two daughters, Chandra and Barbara, who survive him. In addition to his brothers, he is survived by his mother, and a sister, Lennie.