Longtime music industry professional Chuck La Vallee died Friday after a long battle with liver cancer. He was 56.
La Vallee had worked as a manager, major agent and most recently was the head of music partnerships at StubHub, a company he joined in 2006. La Valle's life in music is a story of beating the odds — his neice Cassidy La Vallee described Chuck's early life as painful, saying he was a "teenage runaway and heroin addict at 12," in a beautifully written piece on GoFundMe.
La Vallee spent "five years living on the streets, surviving. He cleaned up at 17, went to school, was accepted to an Ivy League University, and ultimately became an executive in a huge entertainment firm" she writes.
He was also a dedicated family man, wife Dana Dickie tells Billboard, who said La Vallee was extremely proud of his 12-year-old son
Dashiell (Dash for short) who was "the center and light of his life" and the two shared a love for baseball and adventure.
La Vallee was first diagnosed with cancer seven years ago and, after learning that his aggresive cancer meant he was no longer a candidate for an organ transplant, decided to continue fighting cancer with treatments and surgeries. Given a 20 percent chance of living five years or longer, La Valle hit the seven-year mark in January and was determined to keep going in spite of his deterioating condition.
"A lot of the fight that helped him go from being a street kid to a music executive was what helped him keep going," Dickie tells Billboard. "He had every reason to live and was determined to apply that same kind of dogged determination and self will to it."
La Vallee is a graduate of Columbia University and after college crisscrossed between the West Coast and New York as he developed his career in the music business. His first job in the business was at Dragonfly Nightclub in Los Angeles and had two stints working at William Morris Agency, first in their contemporary music division and then later in contempory urban department. La Vallee served as a talent buyer for two years with John Scher's Metropolitan Entertainment in New York and managed hip-hop act Spooks through his firm Chuck La Vallee Management.
WME's Marc Geiger said La Vallee's death "is felt throughout the entirety of the WME music team," while Emporium Presents Dan Steinberg described him as "a long time friend for the better part of three decades," adding "I will miss his kindness and humor everyday." On Facebook, friends and family members offered glowing tributes to La Vallee, identifying him as a generous friend who mentored dozens of people in the music industry and was a true fan of music.
That includes his time at Stubhub, where La Valllee brought a rock and roll sensibility to the technology company, forgoing suits for jeans and band T-shirts that showed off his full sleeve tattoos. La Vallee helped Stubhub strengthen its relationships in the music business and align artists and tours with the secondary market, including Lynyrd Skynyrd and Hank William's Jr.'s Rowdy Frynds Tour which he helped move on to the platform.
"I was lucky enough to work with Chuck for eight years at StubHub and I knew the very first minute I met him that we would be friends for life," former Stubhub executive Danielle Maged tells Billboard. "Chuck was the most authentic, wry, generous, warm person and was the same to everyone — from the guy working the news shop downstairs to the industry CEOs he came into contact with. Our hearts go out to his wife, son and extended family and loved ones. Chuck will always be a gift to all who knew him."
A funeral is being planned for La Vallee in the coming days at Hollywood Forever Cemetary and his family will continue to operate his GoFundMe page to help pay for his medical bills, which took a financial toll on his family.
"We're going to be alright," Dickie says, adding that many friends and family members have reached out since learning of his passing.
"It's really hard to be in a family of three people and see such a strong, vibrant and proud man be slowly crippled and humbled," she tells Billboard. "To his dying breathe, he confounded and surpassed expectations. He fought and held on for longer than any doctor thought he could. Even in the most difficult moments, he knew that he had already won, and as his family, we will always carry that fighting spirit with us."