Barry Fey: A Colorado Pioneer
I realize that my blog usually tackles political issues of the day, but I hope you won’t mind a quick detour from our usual path as I recognize the passing of a true Colorado pioneer.
Barry Fey did far more for Colorado than most Coloradans realize. His influence goes beyond promoting rock concerts. Love him or hate him, he changed the face of Colorado culture with an impact that will be felt for generations.
For longtime Coloradans, the impact that will be felt most personally will be the memories of concerts years ago that so many of us will have the rest of our lives. If you went to a high profile concert in Colorado from the mid-1970’s to the end of the 1990’s, odds are it was a concert that Barry Fey made possible.
Beyond personal memories at concerts, Berry Fey also worked to make Red Rocks Amphitheatre one of the most iconic concert venues in the world. It’s one thing to have a really cool natural amphitheater, but it’s an entirely different thing to make it a must-experience venue for music legends. From U2 to Bruce Springsteen and Willie Nelson to Ozzy Osborne, Barry Fey put Colorado on the preeminent list of concert destinations in the world.
The effect of putting us on the concert map should not be underestimated. Denver and Colorado currently bask in the national spotlight as the keys to the West, not only politically, but also as a cultural destination. That status did not happen overnight and it would not have happened at all without the work of Barry Fey.
Speaking of culture, Fey’s work went beyond rock concerts. Fey also single-handedly saved the Colorado Symphony from oblivion in the 1980s. Whether you attend classical symphony concerts every year or haven’t been in decades, you cannot deny the effect that having a symphony in Denver adds to our collective culture and influence as a metropolitan center.
Like most Colorado pioneers, Barry Fey was a flawed character that made friends and enemies. But to instill the kind of change he did, one must have the courage to be their own person. In his later years, Fey was not shy about his regrets in his life and was honest about the ways he attempted to make up for them.
I had the pleasure of talking with Barry Fey many times. I enjoyed the many stories he told about working with some of the most legendary Rock n’ Roll groups of all time.
From behind the scenes looks at concerts with The Who, to being the first American promoter to give Led Zeppelin an American concert date, opening for Vanilla Fudge by the way, his stories never failed to capture the imagination of any music fan within earshot.
Gratefully, he released his memoirs last year and was able to do what would turn out to be a farewell tour of sorts on the radio and TV show circuit in Colorado. We were lucky enough to have him on a few of our shows on Channel 12, but in true promoter fashion, I saw and heard him everywhere in Denver media. Once a showman, always a showman.
As fans from around the world take time this week to remember Barry Fey, it’s only right that Colorado remembers him for the pioneer he was. Barry Fey gave all of us enduring memories as he lived and has left behind a legacy that will benefit all of Colorado for the future.
About The Blogger
– Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out on Colorado Public Television.