R.I.P., Barry Fey
Just received some harrowing news: Barry Fey has passed away. As anyone who's lived in Denver for any amount of time knows, Barry was a legendary and revered figure worldwide, but especially here in the Colorado music scene. We'll have much more in-depth coverage about Barry and his life in the coming days, but for now, our heartfelt condolences go out to the entire Fey family and all of the people whose lives he has touched over the years. Continue on to see one of Barry's last interviews on KLOS, taped this past February, and to read my thoughts about the passing of one of my dearest friends.
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"If you believe in forever, then life is just a one-night stand. If there's a rock and roll heaven, well you know they've got a hell of a band"... and now they'll have a guy looking out for them making sure they're getting the best shows on the otherside.
I was in a thrift store yesterday, and I heard that song playing over the speakers. As I sit here right now trying to collect my thoughts about the passing of my friend Barry Fey, I keep thinking about that refrain. It keeps playing in my head, and if you ask me, it's perfectly fitting, for the sentiment, obviously, but also for fact that the first people mentioned in that tune are Janis and Jimi, two icons, no surnames needed, both acts that Barry adored and introduced to Colorado in the late '60s.
To everybody else, Barry Fey was a legendary promoter, a revered figure in the music industry who helped shape the music scene in Colorado. To me, he was simply The Coach, my football buddy. He was Coach, and I was his assistant, a titled he bestowed on me for a role that I unwittingly stepped into and cherished filling. He was one of my best pals, and I'm going to miss him more than words can possibly express.
I'll be the first to admit we had a unique friendship. Although we were decades apart, he and I chopped it up just like there was no age difference at all. Maybe I'm an old soul, maybe he was forever young, or maybe it was just because I wasn't star struck being in his presence. I know I should've been in awe, but for some reason, I just wasn't. I just saw him as Coach, my buddy.
Don't get me wrong: He's a legend with a scant few peers, and there were certainly times when I thought, man, the thirteen year-old me would absolutely shit his pants if he knew that I was friends with the man who brought U2 to McNichols in 1987, one of the most memorable shows of my lifetime -- not for the show necessarily but for the memories it left me with, memories Barry made possible.
I'll never forget it. I'd looked forward to that show from the time it was first announced - so much so, that there was no way I was missing it, even if it meant being fired from Little Ceasars, one of my first jobs. The show was epic, even if the rest of the night was a hot mess. My childhood best friend, Gooch, bought a six pack off of some older dude and ended up guzzling the whole thing. A half an hour later, he ended up puking all over his shoes sitting on the sidewalk outside the arena in front of a bunch of people. After cleaning him off, I spent the rest of the night shoving cheeseburgers in his face trying to sober him up before my mom picked us up.
You don't forget nights like that. You just don't.
And then there was Frank Sinatra at Big Mac. It was around that same time, and Barry did that show, too, and that one was even more special to me. Old Blue Eyes was a shadow of himself at the time. I don't know if he knew it, but we certainly all knew it. Didn't matter. I was there with my pops, who absolutely loved, loved, loved Sinatra. It was the only show that he and I ever saw together. To this day, of the literally thousands of shows that I've been to in my life, that one is the most meaningful.
And it was all because of Barry.
So, yeah, I don't know what it was, why or how we ended up being friends, but he and I just hit off instantly. I loved him, and I'm pretty sure the feeling was mutual. I don't know if all the stories you've heard about Barry are true, but it wouldn't surprise me. Barry had a massive ego, and he could be curmudgeonly, I'll give you that. And there are just as many people who love him as hate him, and probably for good reason. He wasn't a saint. But he was a sweetheart. I was lucky enough to get to see another side of Barry that I don't think many people got to see. Underneath the gruff exterior, he could be a really kind and thoughtful man.