The Kansas City Star goes out of its way every Sunday to tell readers which famous or infamous people died that week. Anybody can play, from Amy Winehouse to Methuselah, and without fail, it’s an interesting mix of people who invented crazy gizmos, wrote or played in a one hit wonder bands or even gave sex advice, like Dr. Joyce Brothers, who died earlier this week.
The Star messed up though when it missed the passing of concert promoter Barry Fey.
Because it was the ornery Fey who put Red Rocks on the map, pretty much created the concert scene in Denver, helped introduce musicians like Ozzy Osbourne to this country and just happened to be the dude who launched outdoor rock concerts here at both Sandstone and Starlight. In the 1980s Fey was a front page player in Kansas City. He just couldn’t quite match wits with Chris Fritz.
That said, by most accounts Fey was a complete jerk.
He may have had a microscopically kind side, but so did some of the most heinous criminals in the annals of history. Fey even included a “pricks list” in his biography a couple years back and that was after he’d mellowed. What’s that expression? Takes one to know one.
Who made Fey’s “pricks list”? For starters, not me and not Fritz. Marshall Tucker Band, Jimmy Buffet, Chuck Berry and Charlie Sheen did though.
The latest: Fey’s death by suicide landed him smack in the middle of the country’s raging gun control debate.
Details of his suicide went largely unreported, likely because so many of the reporters “covering” Fey’s over the years had succumbed to journalistic indiscretions stemming from letting the promoter schmooze them.
However, a Colorado University study about gun deaths in the state this year reveled that “Legendary Colorado music promoter Barry Fey died at the age of 73 on April 28. The Arapahoe County Coroner later confirmed Fey died by suicide – a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”
The study found that 60 percent of gun deaths were suicides.
The blog Talk Left pointed to Fey’s excruciatingly painful hip replacement surgery – a surgery that also lead to Hunter S. Thompson to his suicide – and the following note to his wife:
“No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun — for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax — This won’t hurt.”
Fey’s pricks list may grow posthumously now that operators of the Morrison Cemetery by Red Rocks have welched on an alleged deal to allow Fey be buried there so his ghost can listen to the nearby concerts.
But one tribute to Fey will go down next month at Sandstone.
“Barry and I became real good friends and we started doing shows together eventually, so it all worked out okay. We only fought over a couple shows back in 1984. The Sandstone thing was rough but I didn’t dislike Barry. You know, I tried to do it, but he got to do it and I eventually got it.
“Barry was kind of like the conductor. First he conducted me to Starlight and then he conducted me to Sandstone.”