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.”
“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.
“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.”