The Rainbow Music Hall first opened 34 years ago this week with shows from Jerry Jeff Walker
If you were living in Denver thirty-four years ago this week, the Rainbow Music Hall would've been the talk of the town. After a grand opening gala featuring Jerry Jeff Walker, who performed three sets on two back-to-back nights at the venue, suddenly, the humble movie theater multiplex at the corner of Evans and Monaco became a prime concert destination for a slew of iconic acts such as Bob Dylan, Van Halen, Tom Petty and U2.
Suffice to say, Denver was a very different town from what you see today. Today, of course, the Mile High City is teeming with venues, so many, in fact, that it's genuinely hard to decide what's more impressive: the fact that there's enough music to keep the venues filled night after night or that there are enough music fans on the Front Range to sustain them all. Back then, according to Fey, who purchased the building in the summer of 1978, there weren't a lot of clubs in Denver at the time.
"I had had the Family Dog and Ebbetts Field, and we played at Mammoth Gardens for a while," he recalls, "but we didn't really have a place where a younger group could play. So we were looking for a place, and I found a triple theater on the corner of Evans and Monaco, the Wolfberg Theaters. They weren't doing anything, and it looked like it was for sale. So I went in there, and I sold it [the idea] to them."
As soon as Feyline took over the property, the walls that separated the three theaters came down (thus the sight-line impairing columns that were left behind) and the space began being converted into one large theater, which held around 1,400. Once the renovations were completed, the venue was christened the Rainbow Music Hall -- after a like-named venue in England, according to Fey -- and the grand opening date was set. Tickets for the opening performances were $7.50 and available exclusively through Select-A-Seat, a company that Fey later sold to a guy who eventually sold his stake to Fred Rosen of Ticketmaster.
In addition to Fey, as you'll see from the original program from the gala posted below (originally unearthed by buckfity.org) there are a bunch of prominent names credited with helping getting things underway, including AEG Live Rocky Mountain honcho Chuck Morris, ListenUp Audio, who installed all of the sound, Dan Fong, who provided photos for the lobby, the late Wendy Kale of the Colorado Daily, who penned the copy, and iconic producer, Bob Ferbrache, who's listed under "Maintenence." Until Fey sold the building to Walgreens and the venue closed in November 1988, for nearly a decade, the Rainbow Music Hall hosted an array of iconic acts, many of which got their start performing at the venue.
Keep reading to see the original program from the Rainbow Music Hall.
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