Legendary rock promoter Barry Fey, who died this past weekend, wanted to be laid to rest at Morrison Cemetery, a stone's throw from his beloved Red Rocks -- and his loved ones say he'd reached a deal for this to happen despite rules restricting burial there to Jefferson County residents. But after his death, the agreement couldn't be found and the cemetery board refused to bend. Now, says a longtime friend who advocated on his behalf, the family has run out of time to change minds and will likely cremate Fey and scatter his ashes at Red Rocks. Andrew Hudson, onetime spokesman for Denver Mayor Wellington Webb and current proprietor of Andrew Hudson's Job List, confirms that the window of opportunity for protesting the cemetery board's conclusion has closed.
"The family had to make a decision on what to do with the body by this morning," Hudson says. "If they did not have any resolution, they were going to go in a different direction."
The situation clearly frustrates Hudson.
"Here's the big problem: This is a very small association board, and communication with them has been incredibly difficult. The only board member I got to talk to was very matter of fact about it. He really didn't have any emotion about Barry Fey at all."
Moreover, Hudson continues, "I talked to a former mayor of Morrison, and he was adamant that an agreement existed. It was something done fifteen years ago or so. The story is that Barry had worked with the cemetery commission to allow him to be buried in the cemetery, and they denied him on a couple of occasions -- but then they reached an agreement for the family to pay $200 a year to keep him up there.
"They also had to go up at least once a year to maintain it, and there would be a flat marker, not a statue or anything like that, with a fence around it to protect it."
This last requirement, Hudson says, was put in place due to the "fear that it would become some sort of rock-and-roll memorial à la Jim Morrison," late singer for the Doors, whose Paris grave site has become a tourist attraction.
"I totally get that," Hudson stresses. "I've been to Jim Morrison's grave, and there were lots of drunk teenagers drinking red wine, which wasn't very cool." That's why the past board set the requirements, and Hudson says, "all of that was agreed to."
After Fey's death, however, Hudson reveals that "no one could find the agreement. The family went through all his papers and it wasn't there. And the board really didn't have any sympathy. They were like, 'The bylaws state this, so we can't allow it.'"
Continue for more about the rejection of Barry Fey's burial wishes. Hudson tried a variety of different tacks to break this logjam, including having current Morrison Mayor Earl Auckland name Fey an honorary citizen to get around the Jeffco-only restriction. But it didn't work, as acknowledged by the Town of Morrison on its Facebook page. The pertinent post reads:
The Town of Morrison is deeply saddened by the passing of Barry Fey. Morrison has had many inquiries about allowing Fey to be buried in the cemetery. The Town has no jurisdiction over the cemetery and it is not located within the Town. The cemetery is governed by Morrison Cemetery Association.
What will happen next? Hudson doesn't want to speak for Fey's family, but it's his understanding that his kin would like to cremate him and scatter his ashes at Red Rocks. That would require the City of Denver's permission, but most observers believe it would be granted.
"There's also been a lot of talk among his friends and different people about other types of appropriate memorials that could be created," Hudson notes. "Like a statue, or maybe naming the Red Rocks stage the Barry Fey stage. There have been a lot of creative thoughts."
Even so, he goes on, "I don't think there's anybody outside the members of the commission who think the Morrison Cemetery would have been an inappropriate place for him to be buried -- not because because it was his wish, but also because of what he's done to raise the profile of Red Rocks and Morrison. If you talk to the merchants up there, they'll tell you that by creating the summer Red Rocks concert schedule, it allows them to exist in the wintertime.
"I'm disappointed," Hudson concedes. "But it's a good lesson for everybody to make sure that if you have those types of wishes, make sure someone knows where the paperwork is."
More from our Follow That Story archive: "Barry Fey cause of death confirmed, foundation and Red Rocks statue campaign launched."