The veteran music manager was 76.
The cause of death is not yet known, but the 76-year-old’s death was confirmed by a rep for Young on behalf of Roberts’ Lookout Management.
“It is with heavy heart that we can confirm the passing of Elliot Roberts,” the statement read. “Roberts, among the most respected and beloved music industry figures of all time, leaves an indelible footprint as a pioneer and leader in the business of artist representation. His uncanny intellect, unmatched, sharp wit, larger-than-life charisma along with his keen understanding of the music industry will remain unparalleled. Truly one of a kind, he will be missed always and by many.”
Well known for playing a big part in the rise of the Laurel Canyon music scene throughout the ’60s and ’70s, Roberts went on to work with the likes of Tom Petty, David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, Talking Heads, Morrissey, and he helped launch the careers of Tracy Chapman and the Cars.
One of Roberts’ most notable working relationships included Joni Mitchell, whom he managed early on in her career, during a time in which she resided in New York. The pair later moved to Los Angeles together in 1967 with Mitchell’s then-boyfriend David Crosby. It was during this time Roberts formed Lookout Management with agent David Geffen.
His most famous manager/client relationship was with Neil Young. The pair started working together in 1969 and continued right up until Roberts’ death. Roberts also co-managed Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
Young called Roberts “the greatest manager of all time” in a tribute he posted to his Neil Young Archives site. “Never one to think of himself, he puts everyone else first. That’s what he did for me for over fifty years of friendship, love and laughter, managing my life, protecting our art in the business of music. That’s what he did,” Young wrote. “When it came to our business, Elliot guided me through every move. We talked every day. Often I would call him multiple times in a day, arguing, discussing, planning and sharing. He was there for me and protected my music with a fierceness.”
He added: “No matter where I was in the world, no matter his other obligations, he was always by the side of the stage as much as he could be.”
Other tributes have come from Graham Nash, who said: “Elliot was a funny, brilliant friend and devoted manager. His life touched many people, and he brought forth the best in people. He was the glue that kept CSNY together in our early years and I will certainly miss him with sadness in my heart.”
Stephen Stills told Rolling Stone that Roberts was “probably the kindest, gentlest, and far and away the funniest man I ever worked with in Show Business.” “He was also tough as a barbed wire fence, fiercely loyal and keenly observant; guarding the best interests of his clients with uncommon tenacity and skill. But his greatest gift was his soulful, open heart,” Stills wrote.
Tributes have begun to pour in on social media.
“RIP #ElliotRoberts You will be missed old friend,” wrote Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash. “I liked Elliot Roberts a lot. He was a kind, thoughtful, and helpful man. So sad to hear of his passing. Love always,” added Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
See more tributes to Roberts below: