Hearne: Sandstone Concert Godfather Commits Suicide

barry fey and steven tyler 205x205In the world of rock promoters Barry Fey stood tall, ruthlessly tall…

The iconic Denver-based music man was one of a handful of legendary rock promoters that ranged from San Francisco’s Bill Graham to Kansas City’s Chris Fritz. Promoters who ushered in an era of live music concerts and entertainment that came out of nowhere in the mid to late 1960s and lives on to this day.

“He was the reason Denver became such an important music market,” Fritz says. “I mean, he launched music in Denver in a big way. He will be missed, that’s for sure.”

Fritz would have loved to have “missed” Fey at times during the 1980s.

That’s when “If anyone tried to take his acts, he would cut them off at the knee,” said Mark Brown, who covered Fey at the entertainment desk of the now defunct Rocky Mountain News,” according to Venues Today‘s Dave Brooks.

“He was a little gruff sometimes, but he was from New Jersey, you know, ” Fritz says. “There was a huge competitiveness between us but we never hated each other and we ended up friends, and I really loved the guy – I really loved the guy.”

sandstoneFritz teamed with Contemporary of St. Louis to fight Fey in the 1980s when he attempted to encroach on the Kansas City concert market first at Starlight and later at Sandstone.

“I think what happened was Barry’s ex wife Cindy Fe and Sandstone founder  Gus Fasone got together for a few years but they didn’t do that well,” Fritz says.

A few years later Fritz and Contemporary took over Sandstone and lead it through it’s glory days as Verizon Wireless Ampitheater. Fritz continues to operate the venue today and Sandstone is having its biggest season in years.

1304290646377241621_v2Like Fritz, Fey had his share of ups and down in the high risk biz.

“Oh yeah, you know it’s a tough business and Barry was a gambler,” Fritz says. “He’d roll the dice on something and you know, if you lose you lose. You know, Barry had big balls.”

What Fey wasn’t was a party boy, Fritz says.

“No, no, he was pretty straight laced. He was not a drinker or any of that stuff,” Fritz says. “But he loved the business and he had a pretty flamboyant lifestyle too. Like he loved horses. The last time I saw him he was on his way back east with his thoroughbreds passing through town six or seven years ago.

“We were buddies,” Fritz continues. “You know, he did some shows at Royals Stadium with Bill Graham. It was like one of the first stadium shows ever with Three Dog Night in 1973.”





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10 Responses to Hearne: Sandstone Concert Godfather Commits Suicide

  1. smartman says:

    Can’t mention Barry Fey without a nod to the debacle that was Walk Through Rock. In hindsight we probably owe Barry some thanks since it was that disaster that blew the Leiweke’s out of town.

    • harley says:

      right smartman…blew them out of kc..
      into the nhl/nba and to the largest music company in the world…aeg…
      your wrong again bud..
      sure they were salesmen…but they were very very good at it.
      at aeg they bamboozled lots of people (including kc gov) but they
      walked away with all the dough.

      • smartman says:

        Easy to see why a jagoff like you harley admires the Leiweke’s and Glazer’s of the world.

        For some of us winning is not as important as winning the right way, with honesty and integrity.

        • harley says:

          right…for a guy who sells used hottubs to pay his
          car payments i find it hard for you to talk about integrity. Anbd honesty is not your forte…should
          i go further? Read my newsletter where the truth
          comes out!!!!!!
          I’ve read enough of your works as has everyone
          who follows the news and now know
          who you are to know that integrity and
          honesty are not the words you live by. we featured
          some of the other dudes in my end of april newsletter.
          So when you get sainted by the pope give me and
          glazer a call.
          winning by any costs is your lifestyle…
          trashing everyone and everything is your lifestyle..
          read my new newsleter coming out middle of
          may and you’ll find out things that should really
          make you stand up and say harley knows all!!!!!!!!

  2. chuck says:

    From the article, you could infer the suicide took place after mistakenly booking Nickelback @ Arrowhead.

    Was the man sick?

    Did that dude who looks like a lady dump him?

    Bet the farm on Barbaro?

    Accidental self immolation on 4/20 in Denver?

  3. harley says:

    Hearne…it’s fasone.
    and gus launched sandstone. Really good guy. But you did not want to
    mess with him. I believe he was the man who took out fred arbanas’s eye
    in a fight.
    Barry was a very nice man. Some members of my family and family friends
    were in the concert biz for years in kc. Met Barry when we were in denver
    and wanted to see fleetwood mac at red rocks. Yes he was a gambler but
    so was fritz…irv and steve…and contemporary and plesser and everyone else in the
    concert biz.

    • admin says:

      And so was I to a far lesser extent for my seven year run in the band booking biz.

      Gus was a character. As a youth he did some truly awful things that were covered extensively in the Kansas City Star that I read in the clippings library.

      On the surface anyway he mellowed and I always had a great relationship with him when I was running the Pitch. For example, we did the Sandstone programs one summer (maybe two).

      And don’t forget Gus’s big dream that never came to pass…

      The Land of Oz theme park in KCK, Great idea, but he was embroiled with a highly questionable developer. Remember?

  4. john cleese says:

    ate one more wafer thin mint?

  5. harley says:

    barry fey has a legend of followers in denver. He made denver a huge music
    event city.
    Fritz brought the big shows to kc…he created a huge market for a medium
    size town and made sure that kc never missed a big band.
    Fritz didan excellent job…but never had to the idol following that fey had
    in denver.
    KC was a tough town to make money in back in the times…you made it
    with mediumsize acts.
    Plus asapromoter you had others like tiger trying to take their “cut”.
    again hearne…these guys were a breed of wildcatters not seen in many
    risk takers putting millions on the line.

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