Several years after Ebbetts Field ended its glorious run in 1976, concert promoters Barry Fey and Chuck Morris were looking for a new, bigger room. They finally decided on a location at Monaco and Evans in Southeast Denver and named their new 1,300-seat venue the Rainbow Music Hall.
The Rainbow started life as a three- screen movie theater; Barry Fey, the promoter, tore down the walls between the screens to make one large and oddly shaped concert venue where no seat was more than 70 feet from the stage.
Jerry Jeff Walker opened the place on January 26, 1979.
The hall was the site of shows by some of the music world's brightest lights, and $2 shows helped start the careers of bands including U2, The Police, Devo, and Pat Benatar. "Most of those $2 shows were amazing shows. These bands were out working the streets. They were playing to the fans," Rainbow manager Dave McKay said.
A who's who of rock 'n' roll, including more than a dozen Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members, passed through the 1,400-seat building in 10 years and more than 1,000 concerts. Warren Zevon was the final show in November 1988. In between it hosted Miles Davis, Robin Williams, Talking Heads, Cheap Trick and hundreds more. In October 1981 the Rolling Stones came very close to playing a secret show there, to the point where banners and tickets were printed. Bob Dylan played three shows at the Rainbow in 1980 on his first tour after converting to Christianity, an era when he was playing only his new Christian songs and no classics. Fey recalled a concertgoer calling out mid-set: "Hey Bob - Jesus likes the hits, too!"
"It was a very small, tight, packed place," said Kevin Oxley, who worked security at the Rainbow in the '80s. "It was really a classic place, just one big party atmosphere. By 7 o'clock in the morning people would be lining up around the building, partying and having a great time." Stars such as Stevie Nicks hung out after her show and signed autographs for fans, and Fey was an ubiquitous presence, Oxley said. "It was one of Barry Fey's little gems. He was always there, every night." Chuck Morris, now Denver's most prominent concert promoter, opened the place with Fey and booked 173 shows the first year alone. He remembered seeing U2 in 1981 and immediately calling their high-powered booking agent in New York. One April, the place held 29 shows in 30 days. Catering was usually a King Soopers deli tray.
KCUV-FM (102.3) broadcasts vintage recordings from the Rainbow Music Hall at 8 p.m. Sundays.
There was a room for bands or special guests near the front entrance that was closed to the public. It had a one-way glass mirror with a view of the crowd.(4)
Standing three feet away from Dylan as he pointed an accusing finger at Allen Ginsburg in the audience and said “don’t be fooled by false idols” during his “Saved” tour was one of many unforgettable experiences there.
Music Hall Staff:
Entertainment Cordinator- Chuck Morris
Hall Manager- David McKay
Production Coordinator- Bill Alldredge
Assistant Production Manager- Mark Burns
Stage Manager- Warren Rider
Maintenance- Bob Ferbracht
Music Hall Graphics-Chuck Parsons
|Barry Fey, owner of The Rainbow Music Hall|
In April of 2009 Rick Shaw and Craig Keyzer noticed that the historic Rainbow Music Hall sign, which was supposedly protected, had been taken down. Hoping that it had only been disassembled and taken away for storage, Rick and Craig hopped the fence behind the vacant building on April 18th. The sign had been completely and utterly destroyed, a crumpled pile of twisted metal and plastic fragments.
Taking a hacksaw, they were able to save the word “Hall” from the base plate of the sign (it had holes drilled for installing lightbulbs behind the yellow plastic letters) and only one complete yellow letter “L”. They also collected as many broken yellow sign fragments as they could.(2)
Jim Messina solo and Herbie Hancock and Chic Corea together. Both were in the 1980-81timeframe.
Jimmy Messina had just released "Oasis" and it again showcased his great song-writing skills. I remember the concert was during a driving snowstorm, and the weather was so bad, Messina said that Richie Furray (former Poco bandmate) couldn't get down the mountain to come to the show.
Hancock and Corea played two grand pianos, sometimes solo, sometimes simultaniously. But always captivating jazz! They later released an album from this tour.(1)
"We had Black Flag at the Rainbow Music Hall. Their roadies had a band and their lead singer took his clothes off on stage. I went out and said, "I'm very sorry. You will never see that on the Rainbow stage again."(6)
Read more: Barry Fey looks back - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/ci_4595412#ixzz1sPTp7OIz
"Andy Kaufman was absolutely hysterical. The Rainbow got a limo for him to drive around all night to unnamed places. "He used it till 6 in the morning. I never asked the limo driver where he took him, but I heard it was some interesting places."(5)
Miles Davis performed here with John Scofield.(3)
|Photo by Kim Allen|
The sign stayed while a drugstore occupied the site. Walgreens wanted to keep the sign outside it's new store so the original Rainbow Music Hall sign stood at the building for twenty years after it closed.
|Photo by Ken Papaleo|
Jerry performed here on
4/11/79 early and late shows Reconstruction
4/12/79 early and late shows Reconstruction
This show was canceled. Jerry had oral surgery.
11/19/81 Jerry Garcia Band
The only three set JGB performance.
5/21/83 Jerry Garcia Band
5/23/85 early and late shows Acoustic w/ John Kahn
2.)^Rainbow Music Hall, Spork, 2009-07-18, http://twistedspork.blogspot.com/2009/07/rainbow-music-hall.html
3.)^Solomom, Jon, 2009-06-04, Rainbow Music Hall now officially only a memory, http://blogs.westword.com/backbeat/2009/06/rainbow_music_hall_now_officia.php
4.)^Allen, Kim, 2009, http://denverphotoarchives.com/blog/2009/august.html
5.)^Brown, Mark, Rainbow Music Hall about to take its last bow,
2008-03-11, Rocky Mountain News, brownm@RockyMountainNews.com
6.)^Kreck, Dick, Barry Fey Looks Back, 2006-11-05, Denver Post, http://www.denverpost.com/ci_4595412