Updated: Tuesday, 14 Aug 2012, 5:12 PM MDT
Published : Tuesday, 14 Aug 2012, 11:29 AM MDT
AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) - Musicians, friends and family of Brent Grulke, 52, are mourning his loss after the creative director of South By Southwest Conference and Music Festival died unexpectedly on Monday of a heart attack during oral surgery.
"Brent played a central role in making March in Austin the meeting place for the best new -- and established -- musical talent from across the United States and around the world," said Hugh Forrest, SXSW event director.
"His creative vision shaped the SXSW Music Festival as it grew from showcasing 400 bands per year in the early ' 90s to more than 2,000 bands per year in more recent times."
Grulke became the creative director of SXSW in 1994. A North Platte, Neb., native, he was drawn to Austin after he read a book by Jan Reid in high school called, "The Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock ."
In addition to working with SXSW since its founding in 1987, he was also a cofounder of Austin Music People.
AMP issued a statement late Monday honoring Grulke.
"All of us at Austin Music People were deeply saddened to hear of Brent's passing today. We knew him as a devout admirer of all things Austin, its music above all. His tireless drive to bring the very best in music from around the world to his adopted hometown was both inspiring and humbling.
"Brent's passion for live music was just as strong for those in his own backyard. In 2010, he cofounded Austin Music People with like-minded colleagues from across the city, all equally committed to ensuring that Austin retain its title of Live Music Capital of the World - a title he helped Austin earn - in perpetuity.
"We send our heartfelt condolences to Brent's beloved wife Kristen and son Graham, and to all those in his SXSW family."
Grulke was a graduate of The University of Texas-Austin, where he wrote for The Daily Texan and majored in Radio, Television and Film . Later he also wrote for The Austin Chronicle where he was the records review editor in 1990-1991.
In a 2001 interview with Austin Fanzine Project , Grulke taked about his love of Austin:
"The thing is that everybody’s experience of a place changes over time, and the thing that I love about Austin now isn’t dependent on whether or not there’s money in Austin, whether or not Austin’s booming or not, whether there’s a great music scene or cultural scene. At this point what I love about Austin is I have so many friends here. I don’t like the idea that change is inherently bad. Yeah, there are a lot of things I do miss, but I would miss a lot of things about being 19 regardless of where I was. Now, the things that were bad about Austin, a lot of them are still bad. It’s insufferably hot, the allergies here are horrid, if you have any allergies at all — if you don’t have allergies, you will in Austin. In a lot of ways it’s really provincial, a lot of the things that bigger cities have it doesn’t have, a lot of the amenities that bigger cities have it doesn’t have and never has, and it increasingly has had more of the problems of bigger cities without those amenities."
Last week, Grulke spent some time in London at the Olympics.
In addition to his wife, the former Kristin Brock , and 6-year-old son, he is survived by two brothers, Brad and Brian.