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Saturday, August 7, 1993 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Tom Hulett, Ex-Quarterback, Leading Concert Promoter

Tom Hulett's stand-up nerve served him well as a quarterback in the years when he starred for Garfield High School and the Seattle Rangers. And when he left the gridiron for the field of concert promoting, a field he helped develop into its modern form, Mr. Hulett's toughness carried him to the top.

But nerve and toughness weren't enough to fend off cancer. Mr. Hulett died last Friday, July 30, in Los Angeles at 55.

An All-City quarterback for Garfield in 1955, Mr. Hulett went to the University of Washington for one year. He left the UW for the Army, where he continued his football career and was named an All-Europe player. Before and after his Army stint, Mr. Hulett played for the Seattle Ramblers, which became the Rangers of the Continental Football League. Friends and family describe him as an old-fashioned, stand-up quarterback with a rifle for an arm.

For all his success in football, it was in the nascent business of concert promoting that Mr. Hulett would really make his mark. He joined Pat O'Day Associates in 1967, a business formed by radio DJ Pat O'Day to put on teen dances. Pat O'Day Associates became Concerts West, which grew into the largest concert-promoting company in the world in the '70s.

At its peak, Concerts West put on more than 700 shows a year. Their roster of acts included nearly all of the biggest names in music - the Rolling Stones, Credence Clearwater Revival, Frank Sinatra, the Eagles, Led Zepplin, Elton John and many more.

Mr. Hulett had an especially close working relationship with two of Concert West's most important clients, Jimi Hendrix and Elvis Presley. It was Mr. Hulett who flew to London to retrieve Hendrix's body, and he rode in the third car in Presley's funeral procession.

"Tom showed a lot of acumen and an enormous amount of drive," said O'Day, a partner in Concerts West with Mr. Hulett and Terry Bassett.

It was with Jimi Hendrix that Concerts West adopted a strategy that would revolutionize concert promoting, O'Day said. Concerts West arranged to book all of Hendrix's concerts, handling all the arrangements from hotel accommodations to concert security. This was in contrast to the standard practices of the late '60s, when bands were forced to deal with a multitude of talent agencies.

Concert West's "turn-key" approach made them enormously attractive to major acts that went on large, complicated tours.

For Presley, Mr. Hulett managed every performance from 1969 until Presley died. He was invaluable to Concerts West because of his ability to deal with Presley's manager, Col. Tom Parker, O'Day said.

Mr. Hulett also promoted several closed-circuit television fights, including the two Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier fights.

The principals of Concerts West split up in 1977, and Mr. Hulett stayed in the business. He worked for a time with Jerry Weintraub and later formed Tom Hulett and Associates. Recently, he managed such acts as the Beach Boys and Warrant.

"He was a great tap dancer," said Mr. Hulett's brother Ted, now of Pheonix. Whatever it took to get something done, he did it. He tap-danced his way around it . . . . He was a hell of a guy."

Mr. Hulett is survived by his wife, Charlene; his daughter Tina and his son Donnie, all of Los Angeles. His mother, Anne Hevly, lives at Branch Villa Health Care Center in Seattle.

The family requests that remembrances be sent to the American Cancer Society or the University of Southern California Norris Cancer Center.

Copyright (c) 1993 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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