Ten People Who Belong in the Colorado Music Hall of Fame
The scene at the 2013 Colorado Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. This year's will take place at the Paramount Theatre this Friday, January 9.
Darian Simon for Westword
In 2011, the Colorado Music Hall of Fame's first inductees were John Denver and Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Since then, local legends like Judy Collins, Barry Fey, Sugarloaf, Flash Cadillac, Serendipity Singers and others have been welcomed into the Hall. This year's class includes the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Poco, Firefall and Manassas, which featured Stephen Stills. On Friday, January 9, original members of all the acts, save for Manassas (there will be a tribute to the band and Stills), will perform at the Colorado Music Hall of Fame's Induction Concert at the Paramount Theatre.
As the Hall's roster grows, it is becoming a crucial testament to our state's proud musical history. In that spirit, we'd like to nominate a few people who we think deserve future consideration for induction.
10. Bill Stevenson Bill Stevenson isn't a man who likes to sit around doing nothing. He's the anchor of the Descendents, All, and a third band, Only Crime, in addition to being a de facto Lemonhead. In addition, Stevenson is an owner of Blasting Room Studios, a Fort Collins facility that enjoys a growing national reputation among rock and punk acts. --Michael Roberts
Wendy Kale was one of Colorado's most dedicated music writers.
Courtesy of the Wendy Kale Scholarship Fund
9. Wendy Kale Longtime music journalist for the Colorado Daily Wendy Kale went to more local shows and knew more people in the biz than nearly anyone in the state. She lived and breathed Colorado music -- one reason that people in the scene came to know her as Wendy Rock 'n' Roll. --Oakland L. Childers
Ron Miles (center), with Bill Frisell (who also probably deserves a nod) on his left and Brian Blade on his right.
8. Ron MilesWhen Bill Frisell speaks about the decades he's known Miles, he chooses his words thoughtfully, sometimes trailing off before starting again. He tells the story of a cassette tape he got from Miles, delivered by their mutual friend, producer Hans Wendl. Along with his music, Miles included a note asking if Frisell wanted to record with him. The guitarist couldn't make the time then, but he wrote Miles a postcard (which Miles has since had framed) expressing admiration for his horn playing.
That sound, that unmistakable Ron Miles sound, is rich, full-bodied and lyrical. Frisell remembers exactly where he was the next time he heard it. He was driving up a hill in Seattle when a Duke Ellington song played by Boulder-based saxophonist Fred Hess came on the radio. A trumpet solo cut in, and Frisell knew immediately who it was.
Read more: Denver-Bred Ron Miles and Bill Frisell Are Among the Greatest Collaborators in Jazz, by Jon Solomon
Paul Whiteman was a great jazz orchestra leader.
Noah Van Sciver
7. Paul Whiteman Born in Denver in 1890, Paul Whiteman went on to lead one of the most popular jazz orchestras of the '20s. Since his group was one of best dance bands of the day, Whiteman, a fine violist and violinist in his own right who played with the Denver Symphony Orchestra, recruited some legendary players of the era, like Eddie Lang, Red Nichols, Tommy Dorsey and Bix Beiderbecke. --Jon Solomon6. The Fluid
The Fluid was the first group based outside the Pacific Northwest to ink with Sub Pop, the indie that served as the launching pad for what became known as the grunge sound; as such, the band became a key component of a musical revolution that helped define the late-'80s/early-'90s rock era.
Read more: Sub Pop's twentieth anniversary spurs this year's unlikeliest local band reunion, by Michael Roberts
Phil the Fan was an icon of the Denver scene.
5. Phil the Fan From Laura Bond's 2000 feature: If rock and roll isn't actually running through Phil the Fan's blood, it's definitely sharing his apartment. For more than twenty years, Hamon, now 48, has watched the local rock scene, an amorphous culture whose only real constant is change. He's seen bands come and go as precisely and predictably as fashion; nightclubs open only to be razed to make room for parking garages and sports bars; entire genres fade from memory like so many drunken, stageside conversations. He was a regular at now long-gone places like the Rainbow Music Hall, Bamboo Gardens, the Broadway and Quigley's; he was a fan of phantom punk and heavy-metal groups such as the Rok Tots, Helen Killer, Mau Mau 55 and Madhouse. From a distance, he's observed promoters and politics. ("Back then," he remembers, "it was hard to put on those fun shows, because Barry Fey would find a way to shut everything down. If he was still around, I wouldn't be able to do my light show, that's for sure.") And along the way, he's collected a few souvenirs.
Read more: For more than twenty years, Philip Hamon has championed local music. Now he's got his own act together, by Laura Bond
Lewis with his wife, Mary Louise.
Gary Isaacs for Westword.
4. Willie Lewis William Lewis Klug, who went by Willie Lewis, was best known as the founder of Rock-a-Billy Record Co., a Denver-based label that has released nearly forty 45 rpm rockabilly singles since 1982. But Lewis was also a fanatic, a gifted record collector and one of Colorado's best rockabilly singers. He was 68 years old when he died in October during heart-ablation surgery, thirty years after his first heart attack."The guy just always thought he was going to die sometime soon," says Tom Lundin, who was Lewis's friend for two decades and became his chief archivist and webmaster. "It's amazing that he lived to be 68. He's been slated to die so many times."
Read more: Willie Lewis Was Colorado's Wild, Brilliant King of Rockabilly, by Jon Solomon
Glenn Miller has a ballroom named after him at CU.
Noah Van Sciver
3. Glenn Miller Born in Iowa in 1904, Glenn Miller lived in Nebraska and Missouri before his family moved to Fort Morgan, where he attended high school. By the time he'd graduated, in 1921, Miller, a trombonist, had decided to pursue a career in music. While he spent some time at the University of Colorado at Boulder (where there's a ballroom named after him), he ended up dropping out to be a professional musician. After a stint arranging for the Dorsey Brothers, Miller began recording under his own name in the mid-'30s and went on to become hugely popular in the early '40s with hits like "In the Mood" and "Tuxedo Junction." --Solomon2. Dianne Reeves
Dianne Reeves has definitely found her calling. The jazz diva, who was raised in Denver, won a Grammy Award in 2002 forThe Calling: Celebrating Sarah Vaughan
. It was her second consecutive win in the category of Best Jazz Vocal Album; Reeves won the same award the year before forIn the Moment -- Live in Concert
. Both albums were released on the Blue Note label, and both show off the former University of Colorado student's astonishing vocal range. She won two more in the same category, in 2004 and 2006, making her the only artist to ever win that particular award for three consecutive releases. For fans in Denver and around the world, the Grammy wins strike the right chord.1. Jello Biafra
This is a no-brainer. At one point in time, Jello Biafra (born Eric Reed Boucher in Boulder) had the most widely recognized name in punk rock. The dude pretty much invented and popularized his own brand of heavy-handed socio-political satire that's influenced everyone from junior-high bozos to corporate figureheads.
Remember the blue-haired kid in your ninth-grade civics class with a smartass answer for every question? That kid is Jello's fault. Remember seeing the iconic Dead Kennedys' DK logo graffitied on the side of cop cars or the dumpsters behind Wax Trax? Jello's fault. This is the guy that Tipper Gore's pro-censorship organization, the Parents' Music Resource Center, took direct aim at in a protracted legal battle and failed to topple.
Even though Biafra hasn't been a Colorado resident in nearly forty years, he continues to cast a long shadow in the state's musical community. His record label, Alternative Tentacles, routinely signs and champions locals like Itchy-o Marching Band, Git Some, Munly, Slim Cessna and even former CU professor Ward Churchill. Look, anyone with a Wikipedia page long enough that it take over ten minutes to sift through probably deserves a little bit of recognition, so will somebody induct this guy already? It'll probably piss him off, if nothing else. --Mark Masters
• BACKBEAT'S GREATEST HITS •
- 50 Photos That Prove Red Rocks Is the Most Beautiful Venue on the Planet
- Photos: Musicians Buying (Legal) Weed in Denver
- The Ten Most Underrated Guitarists in the History of Rock
- 50 Ways to Support Your DIY Music Community
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.