Not only are the circumstances surrounding the death of iconic concert promoter Barry Fey a little weird, his final resting place is even up for grabs.
For starters Fey, who left his mark on Kansas City, first at Starlight and more importantly as the dude who helped launch Sandstone, is trapped in a controversial, post death limbo involving the concert venue he helped to immortalize, Colorado’s vaunted Red Rocks.
“Famed Colorado concert promoter Barry Fey long believed he’d be buried in the Morrison Cemetery, near his beloved Red Rocks Amphitheatre,” reads a story in the Denver Post. “But lost paperwork and a ruling by the historic cemetery’s management group makes it unlikely that his final wishes will be fulfilled.
” ‘I think it’s a shame they can’t make room for my father,’ said one of his sons, Geoffry Fey. ‘I want to bury my dad there.’ ”
Fey allegedly made a deal for his final resting place by Red Rocks with a former Morrison, Colorado mayor despite that plots in the tiny cemetery are only allotted to residents of the town.
And talk about quirky death deals, the agreement reportedly stipulates that Fey’s grave be surrounded by chain link fence (classy) and marked with a flat stone – all for the wallet-pleasing sum of $200 a year.
A PR pal of Fey’s spent the past week schmoozing Morrison’s current mayor to try and get the promoter posthumously declared an honorary citizen and loophole Fey in. Something about Fey soaking up “the tasty tunes floating from the Rocks.”
But if Fey’s family can’t get him into one of the cemetery’s 60 remaining plots, they plan to cremate him and scatter his ashes at Red Rocks.
If that is they can get permission from City of Denver that owns the venue.
As for Fey’s suicide, it’s yet to be reported what may have set him off or how he took his life, but the betting money seems to surround the extreme pain and despondency Fey experienced following his recent hip replacement surgery.
However, according to Westword, the Facebook photo of Fey on the stairs was taken before he fell.
In other words, not only was Fey struggling to recuperate from the surgery, he was also recuperating from an apparent fall.
“You know, the way his personality was with that hyperactivity, It doesn’t surprise me really (that Fey killed himself),” says former Star reporter Jim Fitzpatrick, who shadowed Fey for a day upon the opening of Sandstone in 1984. “It was like, he had to keep going all the time or he wouldn’t be happy. And that hip surgery was maybe the first time he’d slowed down. He looked like the kind of guy who couldn’t take a setback.
“And that type of personality combined with the severity of the surgery and then the fall would have been tough for him to handle.”
How big a deal was Barry Fey?
KMGH TV in Denver reports that in 1968 he promoted the first Led Zeppelin show in North America, a year later the final performance of The Jimi Hendrix Experience and more Rolling Stones and Who shows than any other promoter.
Fey checked out two days shy of his 75th birthday.
His legacy here in Kansas City is another matter.
Outside of being the first promoter at Sandstone – brought in by Sandstone founder Gus Fasone to duke it out with promoters New West and Contemporary at Starlight – Fey didn’t really accomplish much here.
“Personally, I don’t think Barry Fey made any contribution to Kansas City,” says former concert and event producer Marti Dolinar. “He didn’t have a big charitable or philanthropic presence here like he did in Denver. Basically he was just trying to expand his empire to the east and things didn’t work out as planned.”