By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
Nobody but Opperman and Reifman.
And Reifman wasn't just bringing thirty years of music and medical experience to the partnership. He also has valuable ties with all of the concert promoters, including Chuck Morris.
Morris and Reifman first met in the late '70s, when Morris was a patient of Dr. Dragul and Reifman was assisting the doctor. Morris was working for Fey Concerts at the time, and when one of the company's acts had some voice problems, Morris contacted Reifman, who made a special trip to treat the vocalist. After that, Morris frequently called on Reifman.
"There's been more than once where Buzz has literally saved our concert from an artist that was in trouble medically," Morris says.
But Reifman has also had to pull the plug on a concert or two over the years. When the dreaded announcement comes across a local PA that an artist has received medical advice to cancel a performance, Reifman is usually the one who's given the advice. For example, Buzz recommended canceling the Killers' show at Red Rocks in May 2007 (an announcement captured on a YouTube clip). Such situations don't come up often, but when they do, Morris — who keeps the details confididential — trusts Reifman's judgment implicitly.
"As a promoter, I want them to do the show," Morris admits. "But it's not fair, and it's also bad business to force an artist to perform if it may create permanent damage. That karma you don't want. And I've been doing this long enough to know that I'll still be in business, and I want that musician to still be in business. So I'm not the kind who would try to convince an artist to sing when a doctor or expert tells me that there could be some serious damage as a result. You've got to think long-term. Maybe that's why I've survived long-term, because I do think that way."
Morris was thinking long-term a couple of years ago when he ran into Reifman at a show, and Reifman said that he and Opperman were looking for a space for a voice clinic. Morris had just left his job overseeing Live Nation's local operations for a gig heading AEG Live's Rocky Mountain Division, and he was setting up shop in a building he was buying on Seventh Avenue off Santa Fe Drive. He enthusiastically supported the idea of a dedicated voice clinic in Denver, and he had just the place for it — the space next to his own new office.
"For a doctor of that caliber to move to Denver is great," Morris says of Opperman's decision to return to Denver. "I know just from my artist friends that there's three or four doctors in L.A. who are real good. There's one in Philly, and the guy in Nashville's real famous because he treats all the country stars. There's a handful, but there's nobody in the Midwest. So it's a great thing for us. I am thrilled, and Denver should be thrilled to have a guy that good being available to the public, to anybody who has vocal problems.
"He has an impeccable reputation," Morris continues. "There's very few people trained in what he does for vocal surgery. And he trained under this guy who I know at UCLA, who's considered the dean of the whole field.... I mean, there's only like five or six or seven doctors in the country who can actually work on artists and really know what they're doing and have enough advanced degrees, and he's trained under the best."
Opperman flew in to tour Morris's space. He and Reifman agreed that it was perfect for their clinic, with the proximity to one of the city's major promoters an added bonus.
"I talked to some performers that I knew and I asked them, 'What do you guys want in medical care?'" Opperman remembers. "The problem they all have is that they're on the road every single day. And they're in a town for no more than 24 to 36 hours. Very rarely do they ever stay longer than that. So it's impossible for them to get continuity in terms of medical care, like you or I have with a family doctor or specialists. In their world, that can't happen, because they're constantly traveling."
The performers had very strong opinions. "The first thing I heard back was that he hates doctors," Opperman says of one person he polled. "'I don't understand their world,' he said, 'and I hate the way the clinics are so sterile.' And I thought, Hmmm...okay. And the second thing he said was, 'I can never get a doctor who will put up with the fact that I travel and still take me on and care for me, where I can call him from another city and say, 'Hey, this is what's going on. Can you help me?' Even if it's just to get a referral in that town."
Because of all the places he'd studied around the country, Opperman knew that linking patients up with other doctors wouldn't be difficult. And for his part, Reifman was a member of a Texas organization called Backstage Medical, which gave him access to a slew of health providers across the country. That took care of one concern. But the new partners still needed to establish a home base where musicians would feel comfortable.