Who is Danny Zelisko?
It was June 1974 when jazz-fusion artists, Mahavishnu Orchestra were performing at the Tucson Music Hall. It was this performance that launched the beginning of a career. However, it wasn’t the band’s career; it was that of the young promoter producing the show, Danny Zelisko. With the help of his father, the 19-year-old spud moved to Arizona from Chicago and began promoting concerts for a living. Zelisko’s first show in Phoenix was on June 21, 1974 with Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters.
Although Zelisko has been promoting shows in Arizona since 1974, the first time he was paid for arranging live appearances was when he was in grade school in Niles, Illinois. Zelisko, a diehard sports fan was a regular at Chicago Cubs and Bears games, when both played at Wrigley Field, in the mid 60’s. Hanging out at the games paid off when his Little League commissioner wanted a celebrity speaker for the league’s father and son banquet. Danny arranged for the late Chicago Bears running back, Brian Piccolo, to appear as their special guest during the spring of 1966. In appreciation for the booking, Piccolo paid Danny $30, (10% of what Brian was paid) to go along with the steak dinner at al Capone’s old hangout. Having known of his booking activities, while arranging other Bear’s players previous appearances, Brian admonished Danny for having not been compensated earlier. Welcome to show business!
As a pioneer of Dooley’s nightclub concert presentations in the late ‘70’s, Zelisko established himself in the business that thrives to this day. Danny Zelisko’s company, Evening Star Productions, located in Phoenix, Arizona, evolved into a multi-faceted organization active primarily throughout the Southwest presenting a diverse range of events including festivals, concerts, theatre and corporate events. With Danny’s reputation spanning over four decades, his client list reads like a “who’s who” in the industry: Ozzy Osbourne/Ozzfest, Paul McCartney, Pink Floyd, Tina Turner, Bon Jovi, The Eagles, KISS, Grateful Dead, The Rolling Stones, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton, Cher, Scorpions, Santana and hundreds of others.
After 25 plus years of doing hundreds of shows per year, Zelisko sold his company, Evening Star Productions in 2001 to SFX, which was then sold by its creator, Bob Sillerman, to Clear Channel Entertainment. In 2005, Clear Channel Entertainment was spun off into Live Nation, where Danny was the Southwest President, and then Chairman till just recently.
In April 2005, Danny Zelisko was inducted into the Arizona Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame. Zelisko was acknowledged as one of Arizona’s most instrumental contributors to the music and entertainment scene.
In October of 2006, KDKB invited Danny to join the KDKB air staff, allowing him to play his own songs to “Rock Arizona” from 10-midnight on Sundays. Listen in each Sunday night for a great ride full of superb music, interviews and insight.
You can write to Danny at Danny.Zelisko@kdkb.com