RIP MFTQ 1949-2019
I was as shocked and saddened as any one else when I heard the news the morning of March 31, 2019 that our beloved Ticket Queen, Shelley Lazar, had lost her long time battle with cancer. I first saw the news on Facebook posted by one of her family members. Almost immediately tributes from family, friends, fans, musicians and colleagues around the world began to pour in. Everyone LOVED Shelley! And she would leave a void no one could fill.
Like many Stones fans my connection with Shelley happened by chance. But that "chance" made so many of my rock 'n roll dreams come true over a span of the last 20 years. There was never really a proper way to thank her for all she did for me. Many of my best rock 'n roll experiences with not only the Rolling Stones, but with The Who, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Elton John and Simon & Garfunkel would have never occurred if it were not for Shelley and her VIP Ticketing.
Back in 1995 when I began my first foray onto the World Wide Web, I discovered a bunch of like-minded Stones fans in a chat room called The Voodoo Lounge. One of those friends was named Graham, who was from the UK, and in January 1998 I finally met him face to face at Madison Square Garden for a Stones show and he introduced me to his good friend Anthony Dunn.Tony (RIP Feb 12, 2018) as he was known, was the twin brother of Arnold Dunn who worked as tour manager for the Stones, as did their brother Alan Dunn, who was logistics coordinator. They helped us secure tickets for that MSG show, which to date, was my ONLY MSG Stones show.
Back in those days you needed a "referral source" to use Shelley's most coveted VIP ticketing request form-meaning a referral from someone who worked for or was actually IN the Stones. My first referral was from Tony's brother, Arnold Dunn. I had subsequent referrals from Chuck Leavell and Tim Ries. In 1999 in Philadelphia I got my first ever "Shelley Tickets" (as fans always called them) on my own & my very first Rolling Stones VIP pass. That was a BIG deal for me.
Later that year I also got my very first backstage/band lounge pass, a Shebeen pass, which again was one of the biggest thrills of my Stones fandom life. In the summer of 1999 I traveled to the UK with my bestie Elizabeth and we stayed and traveled with Graham to all the UK Stones shows with tickets through Stones VIP Ticketing, aka Shelley Lazar. By then I had started Stones Planet Fanzine with Charlotte in Denmark and we were publishing a monthly Stones fanzine (1999-2010) and running The Rolling Stones Fan Club Office (RSFCO) website. I had been running this Keith Shrine by Blue Lena web page since 1996.
As years and tours passed I had met Shelley & her staff many times at US, Canadian & European shows, and it was always a pleasure. In fact Shelley told me to write her name in as the referral source from then on. She had a wicked sense of humor (in fact I still have a dildo lapel pin she gave me on tour, hahahaha) and she was definitely passionate about taking care of the Stones' die hard fans. Each tour my seats got better and better it seemed. I remember seeing the Stones for the first time during the Voodoo Lounge Tour in the Ticketmaster nosebleeds of Veteran's Stadium with my best friend Julie & her mom, thinking "How did those people get those seats in the front row?". In 2005, I was able to repay Julie for getting us our very first Stones tickets back in 1994, by getting us front row tickets and VIP passes for the Rolling Stones at Hershey Park Stadium.
In 2002 Shelley started her own SLO Limited, which she later sold to Ticketmaster in 2008, all while remaining the CEO. With Shelley's help from 2002 onward rarely did I have a seat father away than say the 20th row on the floor and many times I was in the first 10 rows, which was an utterly amazing perk. Shelley helped me to get tickets to a few of the Licks club gigs in 2002 and in 2005 to the surprise tour opening club gig in Toronto for A Bigger Bang. Shelley was affectionately known as the "MFTQ" or Mother Fucking Ticket Queen as Keith Richards dubbed her and her motto was "There is no such thing as a sold out show". Shelley worked magic for all kinds of events in the world of music and entertainment around the world.
As Shelley got to know me and my long time traveling Stones companions, we graduated from getting VIP/Hospitality passes to Shebeen or Rattlesnake band lounge passes for most shows. But you knew not to take Shelley and her kindness for granted because as easily as she could accommodate you, she could also tell fans to go fuck themselves if they got too greedy. And I saw a few fans get bitchy or think they deserved better seats than they were given and get snubbed. I also saw fans try to ply Shelley with expensive gifts and lavish flower arrangements and I once asked her if that made a difference in what seats they got and she said "I much prefer a simple thank you note" which is all I ever sent. One time she switched a greedy braggart fan's tickets with mine and downgraded theirs and gave us their front row!
We knew Shelley had battled cancer on and off, but when we saw her she always seemed fit and raring to go and I had no idea that when I took that photograph with Shelley in Pittsburgh on June 20, 2015 that would be the last time I would ever see Shelley. I remember her saying "Wait, let me grab some passes". Even that very day she did me an extreme favor by upgrading my husband's ticket so he could sit beside me in the 3rd row center for our hometown show. I wish now that I had thanked her even more and told her how much all these years meant to me.
On April 1, 2019 the Beacon Theater, LA Forum, MSG, Radio City & Chicago Theater box offices all went dark for exactly 2:43 as we all listened to "Michelle" by the Beatles in memory of Shelley. It really hit me then. It still seems surreal. A Stones tour without Shelley, wow, I never imagined it. Shelley was only 69 years young.
So as I head off to see the Stones for my 82nd show in DC on July 3rd, I shall raise a glass and probably shed a tear as I remember the MFTQ and all she has done for me and all the other fans around the world. Her staff at SLO carry on, but she is sorely missed by all who were touched by her kind, fun loving and generous spirit. My condolences to all who knew and loved her, I'll miss you Shelley!
SF Gate Article