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Barry Fey

Inducted: February 12, 2012

Barry Fey

Fresh from Chicago, 27-year-old Barry Fey moved to Denver in early 1967 and began his career as one of rock music’s most prolific promoters. After a trip to San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury district, Fey contacted music impresario Chet Helms to discuss bringing a bit of the “Summer of Love” scene back to Denver, and a recently closed nightspot in an industrial stretch of Evans Avenue was turned into the Family Dog.

Fey became the local booking agent for the 2,500-seat concert hall, which opened on Sept. 8, 1967 with a show featuring Janis Joplin with Big Brother & The Holding Company as the first headliner, plus the heavy sounds of Blue Cheer. The Family Dog prospered, hosting the cornerstones of rock for ten glorious months—the Grateful Dead, the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Van Morrison, Canned Heat, Jefferson Airplane, Frank Zappa, Cream and more. The most expensive ticket ever at the venue, the Doors on New Year’s Eve, cost $4.50.

But the club struggled to stay open, both financially and with mounting pressure from the Denver police, who hated the idea of having a hippie haven in their city. Fey and his people were subjected to a barrage of harassment and illegal searches, and the Family Dog closed in July 1968. 1602 West Evans Avenue is now a gentlemen’s club, but during a short time in the 1960s, the rectangular stucco building was the center of Denver’s musical universe.

By 1969, Fey had emerged as a grandiloquent character in the Colorado music scene. That June, he presented the three-day Denver Pop Festival, which proved to be the last performance by the original Jimi Hendrix Experience. He then promoted numerous top-grossing shows with the Rolling Stones and the Who. Denver, long regarded as a Rocky Mountain cowtown and a blip on the national music radar screen, suddenly mattered. Fey had established the city as a “must-play” market.

In 1976, Fey’s company, Feyline, initiated his signature Summer of Stars concert series at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, which made the outdoor venue the most desirable place in the world for every group to play. He also promoted the popular Colorado Sun Day concert series of stadium shows and opened the 1,400-seat Rainbow Music Hall.

For three consecutive years, Fey won Billboard magazine’s Concert Promoter of the Year award. He co-produced the “U2 Live At Red Rocks: Under A Blood Red Sky” concert film in 1983, a watershed moment in the Irish group’s history. He was also credited with rescuing the bankrupt Denver Symphony and forming the Colorado Symphony Orchestra in 1989. After flirting with retirement in the late 1990s, Fey finally left the music-promotion business in 2004.

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Harry Tuft

Inducted: February 12, 2012

Harry Tuft

It has been said that every free-thinking musician has at one time made the pilgrimage to Harry Tuft’s Denver Folklore Center to soak up knowledge from the dean of Colorado’s folk scene. Carrying only his guitar and a leather briefcase, Tuft journeyed west from Philadelphia in 1962 to open a small store selling vintage instruments, records, books and other musical paraphernalia on 17th Avenue.

Within a few years, the Denver Folklore Center had become a mecca for the national folk revival, with Judy Collins, Arlo Guthrie and the Mamas & the Papas (to cite a few) trading riffs and Bob Dylan taking some guitar lessons during the Center’s heyday.

 

As business thrived and his reputation in the community solidified, Tuft expanded the DFC, eventually taking over the entire block on 17th Avenue. Because of his connections with many leading entertainers, soon Tuft was organizing concerts by some of the biggest names in folk and acoustic music. In 1964, Joan Baez was regarded as folk music’s reigning queen, and Tuft promoted her first show at Red Rocks on August 28, two days after the Beatles appeared there.

Through the years, Tuft promoted performances by Judy Collins, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and guitar great Doc Watson. In 1965, the Mamas & the Papas made a stop in Denver during their maiden American concert tour; future Colorado governor Dick Lamm partnered with Tuft to secure the concert, personally fronting the $5,000 needed.

To establish his store, Tuft created what was possibly the first comprehensive “folk source” resource, the Denver Folklore Center Catalogue and Almanac of Folk Music, which merged a mail-order catalog with a compendium of information regarding stores, manufacturers and music festivals. It was well received at the 1966 Newport Folk Festival and gave the DFC a national reputation among folk musicians and fans.

In the mid-1970s, Tuft summoned several of his longtime Denver friends and conceived the Music Association of Swallow Hill, a nonprofit organization to run concert promotions and educational services. More than 35 years after its founding, Swallow Hill is one of the largest organizations of its kind in the United States, boasting more than 2,300 paying members who volunteer their time and energy.

In 1993, Tuft moved the Denver Folklore Center to its current location on 1893 South Pearl Street, imbuing it with the same cozy feel of the old store. It remains a cultural and social landmark, the focal point in the community for those interested in acoustic music.

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Sugarloaf

Inducted: September 8, 2012

Sugarloaf

The end of the 1960s set the stage for Sugarloaf, as the cream of several Denver bands came together as Chocolate Hair. Keyboardist/vocalist Jerry Corbetta and guitarist Bob Webber of the Moonrakers (Denver’s most popular group during the middle of the decade), plus Bob Raymond on bass and Myron Pollock on drums, recorded demos that got Chocolate Hair signed to Liberty Records.

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The seven-song demo, a mix of rock, R&B and jazz licks, became the basis for the debut LP, but only after new drummer Bob MacVittie came on board to record the last song for the album, which scored the band a big national hit—“Green-Eyed Lady” peaked at #3 in October 1970.

Prior to the release of “Green-Eyed Lady,” there had also been a name change. Told by the legal department at Liberty that Chocolate Hair had racial overtones, the band took the name of a mountain summit in the foothills above Boulder where Webber lived, transforming the rock quartet into Sugarloaf. Non-stop touring gave the band little time for songwriting, so they invited Robert Yeazel from the Colorado band Beast to join on guitar and vocals. An edit of his “Tongue in Cheek,” a track on the second Sugarloaf album, Spaceship Earth, became a minor hit in 1971.

In trying to regain a recording deal, Corbetta was spurned imperiously, which resulted in “Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You.”

An amusing song about the fickle music industry, the dance-friendly new track spelled out the CBS Records phone number and a general White House number—touch-tone style—for the world. Recorded with initial drummer Pollock back in the fold, “Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You” by Jerry Corbetta/Sugarloaf became a hit, reaching #9 in March 1975.

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The Astronauts

Inducted: September 8, 2012

The Astronauts

Circa 1962, the Astronauts played rock ‘n’ roll and R&B hits of the day around the University of Colorado campus. RCA Victor wanted a surf group of their own to compete with the Beach Boys.

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So even though the landlocked group had never played surf music, the classic Astronauts lineup—Rich Fifield, Dennis Lindsey and Bob Demmon on guitars, Jon Storm Patterson on bass and drummer Jim Gallagher—ended up with a long-term recording contract.

The Astronauts were the first Boulder band to make the national charts.

“Baja” became their signature song in late summer 1963, occupying #94 on the Billboard Hot 100 and beginning a string of hits on Denver’s KIMN radio. The single, a surf instrumental, was taken from Surfin’ with the Astronats, the first of eight albums. The Astronauts returned to their frat rock roots for two live albums — one recorded at their own Club Baja in Denver and the other at Tulagi.

The band also appeared on television’s Hullabaloo several times and had cameos in several teen movies.

Ironically, the band enjoyed its greatest success in Japan, outselling the rival Beach Boys. Five albums and three singles made the Japanese Top 10; “Movin’,” titled “Over the Sun” for the Japanese market, hit No. 1. In America, like hundreds of bands, the Astronauts—named in honor of Boulderite Scott Carpenter, one of NASA’s first spacemen—achieved a sort of working prosperity, constantly touring a mind-numbing blur of regional colleges, gyms and bars. In 1967, the draft struck, and Gallagher and Lindsey both wound up serving in Vietnam, essentially finishing the band.

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Ironically, the band enjoyed its greatest success in Japan, outselling the rival Beach Boys.

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Flash Cadillac

Inducted: September 8, 2012

Flash Cadillac

Flash Cadillac & the Continental Kids formed at the University of Colorado in 1968 as an oldies alternative to the rock sound. Lewd and rude shows at Tulagi quickly became the biggest events in Boulder. One year later, the band drove to Los Angeles to play the legendary Troubadour. Flash Cadillac came on last to a half-empty club and soon had the place packed with patrons dancing on the tables.

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The group quit school and hit the road. The other members decided to make a go of it as a real working band, fronted by Sam McFadin, a fan from Colorado Springs.

Flash Cadillac gained instant popularity within the music industry.

The band earned acclaim in the movies, appearing as the sock-hop band in George Lucas’ American Graffiti and in a scene in Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam epic Apocalypse Now. The group also worked on television’s Happy Days and American Bandstand. “Dancin’ (on a Saturday Night),” recorded for Epic Records, cracked the Billboard pop singles charts at #93. Flash Cadillac gave the big time one more shot on Private Stock Records, gaining hits in “Did You Boogie (With Your Baby)” and “Good Times, Rock & Roll.”

By the mid-1970s, the band purchased a little ranch near Woodland Park and built up the facility into a 24-track studio.

In 1992, Flash Cadillac—McFadin, Kris “Angelo” Moe (keyboards), Linn “Spike” Phillips III (guitar), Warren “Butch” Knight (bass), Dwight “Spider” Bement (sax) and the latest in a long line of drummers—was reborn, performing pops concerts with symphony orchestras across the country. Over the ensuing years, Flash Cadillac lost cylinders with the passing of Phillips, McFadin and Moe.

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KIMN Radio

Inducted: September 8, 2012

KIMN Radio

In Denver, the generation that grew up in the 1950s and 1960s had its worldview formed by KIMN, located at 950 on the AM radio dial. Under the ownership of Ken Palmer, the station became the dominant Top 40 music station in town. Newspapers reported that anywhere a crowd gathered waiting for the Beatles to play Red Rocks on August 26, 1964, all the transistor radios could be heard tuned to KIMN.

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During this era of more innocent shock radio, KIMN’s popular record spinners were kings. Leading the pack was Pogo Poge, who would do almost anything to get people to listen to KIMN radio.

He derived his name from hopping from Denver to Boulder on a pogo stick. He sat atop a flagpole for days and once played the Kingston Trio’s “Tom Dooley” for 18 hours straight. The most famous stunt he masterminded put him in the hospital—he spent nearly two weeks in a snake pit with more than 100 snakes and was bitten by a water moccasin. Jay Mack was notorious for his cast of crazy characters, including Betty Jo with Niles and Farley. Hal “Baby” Moore was consistently voted Denver’s top disc jockey in the Harmony Record Shop poll.

The station highlighted the popular local rock ‘n’ roll bands and sponsored concerts with national stars mixed with local acts, giving them their biggest crowds ever. The news department featured “Sky Spy” Don Martin, who flew above Denver’s rush-hour skies when Interstate 25 extended only from Broadway to the notorious Mousetrap, which he named. Contests included jocks broadcasting live—in bed—from a dream house in Denver’s new Broomfield Heights suburb. The house went to the listener who guessed most closely the number of continuous hours the jocks could broadcast without sleep.

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Serendipity Singers

Inducted: November 8, 2013

Serendipity Singers

The folk boom of the early 1960s spawned numerous purveyors of well-scrubbed folk-pop, and one of the most popular ensembles to emerge was the Serendipity Singers, founded at the University of Colorado. Brian Sennett and Brooks Hatch worked in the Harlin Trio, organized at the Delta Tau Delta house.

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When Sennett was inspired to expand the group, they recruited another trio of Delts, the Mark II — John Madden, Jon Arbenz, and Mike Brovsky — and two other CU students, Bob Young and Lynne Weintraub.

The ensemble, then called the Newport Singers, proved popular through stage performances and radio commercials.

The group moved to New York in the spring of 1963, hoping to land a recording contract. Expanding again with the addition of Texas-born folksingers Diane Decker and Tommy Tiemann, the nonet performed at the Bitter End, one of the top clubs in Greenwich Village, and gained the management expertise of its owner, Fred Weintraub. Billing themselves as the Serendipity Singers, they passed an audition to alternate as the headline act on Hootenanny, the weekly ABC-TV folk music showcase taped at different college campuses.

Signing with Philips Records, the Serendipity Singers reached #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Don’t Let the Rain Come Down (Crooked Little Man),” and the song was nominated at the 7th Grammy Awards in 1965 for Best Performance by a Chorus.

The follow-up, “Beans in My Ears,” hit #30 a few months later, although a few radio markets banned it because some teenagers took the song literally. Charting albums were The Serendipity Singers (#11 in March 1964), The Many Sides of the Serendipity Singers (#68 in June 1964) and Take Off Your Shoes with the Serendipity Singers (#149 in January 1965). The group appeared on such network television shows as The Ed Sullivan Show, The Dean Martin Show, The Tonight Show, Shindig! and Hullabaloo.

The Serendipity Singers’ upbeat, massed vocal sound broke on the charts just as the continued impact of the Beatles and the British Invasion was about to sweep the music landscape. New member Patti Davis succeeded Lynne Weintraub, and the group performed at the White House with President Lyndon B. Johnson in attendance. The group shed its last original members by 1970; the name was sold and the Serendipity Singers continued with new lineups as a concert attraction into the 1990s.

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Bob Lind

Inducted: November 8, 2013

Bob Lind

While not a Colorado native, Bob Lind called the state home. He graduated from high school in Aurora and enrolled at Western State College in Gunnison, where he focused on playing guitar to the exclusion of academics. He dropped out circa 1964 and moved to Denver, where he became immersed in the folk music scene and took coffeehouses such as the Exodus, the Green Spider and especially the Analyst by storm.

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Late one night, Lind wrote a song with vivid imagery and an extended, metaphoric narrative—“Elusive Butterfly.”

Al Chapman, the owner of the Analyst, had made a tape of Lind and suggested he take it to record labels. In early 1965, the singer-songwriter left for California and shopped it with World Pacific Records, and his first session with noted arranger Jack Nitzsche yielded the single, “Cheryl’s Goin’ Home.” It had been out for about a month during the Christmas season of when a disc jockey at a Florida radio station flipped it over to the B-side. Listeners flipped, too.

With “Elusive Butterfly,” Lind helped define the folk-rock ferment—his groundbreaking combination of emotionally literate lyrics with lush yet tasteful orchestration peaked at #5 in March 1966.

“Elusive Butterfly” was Lind’s only Top 40 hit. Out of his own pocket, he had recorded an acoustic demo tape during his Denver days at Band Box studios; Verve Folkways Records overdubbed new accompaniment without his input and released it as The Elusive Bob Lind. Follow-up singles charted on Denver’s KIMN radio but barely cracked the national charts.

During the 1970s, Lind began easing out of the music business, concentrating on writing screenplays, novels, plays and short stories. Over the years, more than 200 artists recorded his songs. In 2004, he resumed performing worldwide, and his 2012 album Finding You Again has been hailed by some critics as his best work ever.

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In 2004, he resumed performing worldwide, and his 2012 album Finding You Again has been hailed by some critics as his best work ever.

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Chris Daniels

Inducted: November 8, 2013

Chris Daniels

A Minnesota teen inspired by folk music and acoustic blues, Chris Daniels settled in Colorado in 1971. He joined Magic Music, one of the first acoustic jam bands, and the act performed at the second and third Telluride Bluegrass Festivals in 1975 and 1976, held its own in local clubs and was often booked at Boulder’s the Good Earth with the funky Freddi-Henchi Band.

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“I started in folk with Magic Music. Lee Aronsohn, co-creator of Two and a Half Men and the Big Bang Theory, made an award winning 2018 documentary about that hippie band and the Boulder music hey-day of the 1970s. It’s called 40 Years in the Making: The Magic Music Movie. That traveling circus and touring with Russell Smith of the Amazing Rhythm Aces lead me to start my own band Chris Daniels & the Kings. We’ve toured Europe 21 times, made 15 albums, two with Freddi Gowdy and been nominated for a Grammy. So you could say folk music gave me the ride of my life.”

After leaving the area to earn a B.A. in music and journalism at Macalester College and Berklee College of Music in Boston, Daniels returned to found Spoons, an influential Boulder rock band.

In the early 1980s, he toured with former Amazing Rhythm Aces frontman Russell Smith and founded the notorious After Hours Jams at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival.

In May 1984, Daniels formed a rhythm & blues horn band as a “one-night party” at the Blue Note in Boulder. After building a following on the Colorado circuit, Chris Daniels & the Kings hit the road and established loyal regional audiences in such places as Nashville, Minneapolis, New York and even the Netherlands.

In large radio markets, they made a dent on the new “adult album alternative” format. Forty years after inception, Chris Daniels & the Kings have produced a dozen albums, toured Europe twenty times and remained a top local concert draw.

Daniels also played a hefty role in shaping the Colorado music scene. He spent five years as executive director of the Swallow Hill Music Association, during which the roots, folk and acoustic music school and concert organization won both the Governor’s Award and the Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. He began teaching at Arapahoe Community College in 2002 and became an Assistant Professor for music business at the University of Colorado-Denver in 2007, winning the 2011 award for Excellence in Teaching from its College of Arts & Media. His 2012 release, Better Days, marked a return to his folk roots and found its way onto the national Americana radio chart.

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Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

Inducted: January 9, 2015

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

Coming out of the fluid California scene of the late 1960s, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band hit upon a unique Americana style. The thread of Jeff Hanna and Jimmy Ibbotson’s acoustic guitars and brother-like harmonies, John McEuen’s string wizardry, Jimmie Fadden’s utilitarian prowess and Les Thompson’s mandolin rounded out the sound. At shows at Denver’s Marvelous Marv’s nightclub in early 1970, the band played to enthusiastic crowds.

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In 1971, the band left Los Angeles to relocate in the Colorado mountains, the members settling into their respective wooded communities.

Success arrived with their fifth album, Uncle Charlie and his Dog Teddy; Hanna’s take of Jerry Jeff Walker’s “Mr. Bojangles” made the Top 10 pop charts. The new Colorado residents went to see traditional country music icons Earl Scruggs and Doc Watson perform at Tulagi in Boulder on consecutive weeks.

They both consented to take part in recording a selection of traditional country numbers, with the band allowing the spotlight to fall on the old masters who had greatly influenced them. The resulting album, Will The Circle Be Unbroken—an unprecedented, groundbreaking three-LP set, recorded two-track live, with no mixing or overdubs—elicited appreciation from both rock and country listeners. It even earned a gold album, the first for Scruggs, Watson, Maybelle Carter, Jimmy Martin, Roy Acuff and others.

Circle was ultimately inducted into the Library of Congress as “one of America’s most important recordings.”

In 1977, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band became the first American group selected by the Soviet government to tour the USSR. The band spent a month in Russia, Armenia, Georgia and Latvia playing to sold-out audiences, with an estimated 145 million people tuning in to the group’s one-hour performance on Moscow Television. The following years saw members come and go. Bob Carpenter, based in Aspen with the band Starwood, became an invaluable addition on keyboards and vocals. The back-to-back hits “Make a Little Magic” and “An American Dream” with Linda Ronstadt were released under the name the Dirt Band.

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band was recast as a country act, eventually scoring 17 consecutive Top 10 country songs.

“Colorado Christmas,” recorded in 1983, has remained a radio staple around the holidays. In 1986, a 20-year anniversary concert at McNichols Arena in Denver was a sell-out, with guests such as Ricky Skaggs, Emmylou Harris, Doc Watson, John Prine and others. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band continues to record and tour, and Hanna, Fadden, Carpenter and McEuen will celebrate “50 Years of Dirt” in 2016.

Steve Martin

Steve Martin learned the banjo with help from high school friend John McEuen, and the instrument became a staple of the young comic’s stand-up career. Martin performed at Tulagi in Boulder and Ebbets Field in Denver, and then discovered the charms of Aspen and rented a home. By 1978, the Colorado transplant had earned the level of commercial success reserved for rock stars. The second side of his comedy album A Wild And Crazy Guy was recorded at Red Rocks Amphitheatre; it reached #2 on Billboard’s Pop Albums chart, was certified double platinum and won a Grammy Award.

A Wild and Crazy Guy contained the novelty single “King Tut,” performed by Martin and the Toot Uncommons, actually Jeff Hanna and other members of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band camp. Produced by William McEuen at his Aspen Recording Society studio, “King Tut” sold over a million copies.

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“Colorado Christmas,” recorded in 1983, has remained a radio staple around the holidays.

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