Bruce Rathbone, major Winnipeg entertainment figure, dies at 70

Bruce Rathbone, who was a former partner with Sam Katz in Nite Out Entertainment, died at age 70 on Sunday.

Forceful personality brought major musical acts to Manitoba, including Rolling Stones, Tina Turner

Bruce Rathbone, who was a former partner with Sam Katz in Nite Out entertainment, died at age 70 on Sunday. (CBC)

A major figure in Winnipeg's entertainment industry died on Sunday.

Bruce (Bones) Rathbone, who was a partner with Sam Katz in Nite Out Entertainment, brought 100s of big-name bands to Winnipeg, most notably the Rolling Stones in 1994.

Rathbone was 70.

True North Sports & Entertainment senior vice-president Kevin Donnelly said he felt sadness over Rathbone's passing, calling it the "end of an era."

"Bruce had led a fairly quiet life the last 10 to 15 years, but he was such a volatile personality and when he was engaged in the business, he was larger than life," said Donnelly.

Donnelly said Rathbone could be very persuasive when people didn't agree with him.

"He was a yeller and a screamer, but that was the M.O. back in those days. He was a roller coaster of emotion, but he was generous to a fault. He had energy like you'd never seen, and he got stuff done."

Other musicians Rathbone had a hand in bringing to Winnipeg include David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, Tina Turner and Paul Simon.

"Pearl Jam in Gimli wouldn't have happened without Bruce's efforts," said Donnelly.

Rathbone taught Donnelly "literally everything" about the business, giving him his start when Donnelly was in Regina and offering him a job in Winnipeg.

One lesson Donnelly took from Rathbone was how to push ticket sales until the last minute, because they weren't worth anything the next day.

"Just grind, grind, grind, go to work every day and try to do better, do more, and if you were resting, you were wasting, so it was just go all the time."

Donnelly called the experience of working with Rathbone "awe-inspiring."

"He worked in an era of time when there was a cult, a personality that drove the entertainment industry in every city. Whether it was Bill Graham in San Fransisco, or Donald Tarlton, Donald K. Donald, in Montreal, and in Winnipeg we had Bones Rathbone."