In Memoriam: Sanford Cohen

Jan. 10 / 2024

Earlier this week we were notified of the passing of one Sanford Cohen, a true character in the Milwaukee music scene known for marching to the beat of his own drum, making people laugh, and loving live music.

You may have met Sanford in the front row of countless shows at Pabst Theater Group venues - and one thing was for sure, he didn't care if he was the oldest person in the room. Just between 2021 and 2024 alone, he came to 52 events at the Pabst Theater Group venues, and we know he attended numerous other shows in town at various other venues throughout that time and beyond. So long as there was live music and good conversation, he was there!

When you host 800 shows a year, you’d think that one person of those 500,000+ people wouldn’t stand out. Sanford stood out. His passion for live music brought him to our venues dozens of times every year. He was a regular at ALL of our venues and ALL of the venues around town and outside of town. He came. He asked lots of questions. He always had suggestions. But he always came… experimenting way beyond the expectation of anyone in their 70's. Metal, Classic Rock, Guitar hero’s, country. Name it and he was there. He never stopped listening to and discovering music. And he never stopped enjoying it with friends old… and new (that he made that night). We will miss Sanford.

Gary Witt, Pabst Theater Group CEO



Sanford Cohen was a force in our world that I’ll never forget.  Whether it was a local band, the buzzy new artist or classic rock act you could count on him being there with a smile.  His support and love for live music and independent venues is second to none.  I already miss our conversations.  Hold on to your friends.

Marc Solheim, Riot Fest Talent Buyer

Our deepest condolences go out to his family, friends, and the many acquaintances he made along the way. Please enjoy this playlist comprised of music from artists he loved and shows he attended.

If you knew Sanford and feel so inclined, please feel free to email us at with your own stories that we will review and add to this post for all to view.


Community Submissions:
Photo Submitted by Erin Wolf

I took this photo of Sanford at a wedding we both were guests at - he was making a "DJ" pose underneath the disco ball of the dancefloor. This photo captures Sanford's playful side. At first glance, he seemed like he meant serious business (because going to shows and listening to music was a serious passion for him). Anyone who got to know him would be rewarded with a friendly hello and good conversation. His presence in Milwaukee's music venues will be very missed.

Erin Wolf

Live performance truly was his jam. And when he loved, he loved big! Every band, dance co, theater should have a devoted fan like Sanford. His devotion to his culture and his Danville, IL roots was deep. His love for family and companionship and friendship was larger than the life he lived. I will miss his phone calls, movie updates and never ending support for live performance. And his loving companion Rosemary was a champion for accompanying him on all of the jaunts to see live music and performance. May he always be remembered!! Viva Sanford Cohen!

Linda Yudin

Very sad about his passing. I used to see him a lot at shows. We didn’t always see eye to eye on what was a must see (he leaned more to heavy stuff than me) but we always has something new to share. He was proud of the work he did at the Paradise Theater in West Bend. He invited me and my daughter out there when she was really young to give us a tour and treat us to a movie and treats. A kind mench for sure!

Stephen Bloch, Photographer

Also having grown up in Danville, IL, Sanford’s father was my childhood dentist. Although he was somewhat older than me, we developed a long distance relationship (I live on the West Coast) based mostly on our shared passion for live music. Even though our tastes were quite different, Sanford would always trust my judgment on Milwaukee show recommendations (I never reciprocated) and thereby widened his music palette. He was much more open to such change than me, and I truly admired him for that. He was, in many ways, one of a kind and will be missed by all those who knew him.

Jeff Sperling



By: The Pabst Theater Group

Jun 2024



Upcoming Events

Saturday | Sep 7, 2024

1964 The Tribute

The Pabst Theater
Event Starts 8:00 PM
Saturday | Oct 5, 2024

The Rush Tribute Project

The Pabst Theater
Event Starts 7:00 PM
Saturday | Nov 2, 2024


Belew/Vai/Levin/Carey play 80s King Crimson

The Riverside Theater
Event Starts 8:00 PM