Obituary: Steve Quinlan / He found his calling in street marketing for concerts here

Died Jan. 3, 2014

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If you attended a concert in Pittsburgh over the past 30 years, odds are you encountered Steve Quinlan.

He was the quiet, unassuming guy in the Grateful Dead tie-dye who handed you a flier, very passively, for an upcoming concert.

"He had the lowest job on the totem pool, but everyone loved this guy," said Pat DiCesare, former co-owner of concert promoter DiCesare-Engler Productions.

Mr. Quinlan, affectionately known as Stevie "Shuffles" for the way he walked, died Jan. 3 at 48 of heart disease. He will be remembered at a memorial celebration at 3 p.m. Sunday at Carnegie Library Music Hall in Munhall.

Mr. Quinlan, who grew up in McKeesport and moved to the South Side in 1996, got his start in the concert business after finishing high school in the early '80s.

"I remember him coming to us when we had the I.C. Light Amphitheatre at Station Square," Mr. DiCesare said. "He and his brother Jeff. Stevie was a unique person, an extremely humble person. He loved the music business and wanted to be in it, and he didn't care what level it was."

DiCesare-Engler first hired him as a cleaning person, but he found his calling in street marketing.

"We needed someone to pass out fliers and posters," Mr. DiCesare said. "He did that job diligently -- better than anyone else. He became kind of famous for distributing fliers and posters, a job no one else would want to do. He did it with such pride."

Mr. Quinlan never drove, so he did it all on foot, by bus or hopping rides with people like his friend, Ryan Longeway.

"He really liked music and he really liked Pittsburgh," Mr. Longeway said. "He knew the trends of what would do well where. He was a very simple guy. He didn't ask for a lot, and he'd do anything for you."

According to friends, he had been a big help to his older brothers, Dave and Jeff, since the death of their parents more than a decade ago. They go by their mother's maiden name, Langer.

With the demise of DiCesare-Engler, Mr. Quinlan handled street marketing for Live Nation, Drusky Enterprises and Opus One Productions, which meant hanging posters and handing out fliers at such venues as Mr. Smalls, Carnegie Library Music Hall, Altar Bar and Stage AE.

"Steve used to work with me at Live Nation on our marketing team," Matt Mager said. "This kid could walk in to any concert without a ticket or a pass because he was so well-known around the Pittsburgh live music scene -- He was the pass. Such a super great guy who was dealt a lot of tough life cards, but he really made the best out of what he had. He kept such a positive attitude and had an extreme passion for music and promoting concerts via fliers and posters. Any poster you see in Oakland or South Side and other city places, Steve most likely put them up."

Mr. DiCesare said he also got work as a vendor at Mellon Arena and in the Strip.

"We would see him on the corner in the Strip, selling T-shirts and hats for sporting events. When he got a break he would come over and sit down. He would never talk. He would just sit and listen. In that way, he was a great conversationalist.

"I must have had a thousand employees in my life," Mr. DiCesare added. "A handful affected me. He was just a unique individual for this business. People respected him, yet he placed no importance on himself."

He is survived by his brothers, Dave and Jeff Langer.

Like Jerry Garcia, his musical hero, his remains will be scattered in the San Francisco Bay.


Scott Mervis: smervis@post-gazette.com; 412-263-2576.


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