Letter: Glenn, you’ll be missed
January 19, 2016
I was saddened to hear the news that another Rock and Roll Hall of Fame musician is gone with the passing of Glenn Frey. He and his wife, Cindy, were not just residents of this valley, they also donated their time and talent to projects that were dear to the Aspen community. In the fall of 1991, Glenn called and asked if I would come to dinner at his place in Old Snowmass, as he had an idea he wanted to discuss. Out of that evening came the basis for an event to benefit the Grassroots Aspen Experience to be held on Feb. 14, 1992, known as "Art From the Heart." The event started with a party at my space, The Barney Wyckoff Gallery, with a sale of donated artwork and rock 'n' roll memorabilia followed by Champagne and hors d'oeuvres at the Tatou Restaurant. The evening ended late with a rock 'n' roll show with Glenn and The Mad Dog Band at the China Club. Both shows sold out, and it was a huge success.
In fact, it was so much fun, we decided to do it again on Valentine's Day 1993. More artists contributed, and the memorabilia included signed guitars, photographs and album covers, etc. This time, instead of a nightclub, we decided to hold the show in the Grand Ballroom at the Ritz-Carlton. The Mad Dogs that night were joined by Joe Walsh and Father Guido Sarducci from "Saturday Night Live." With Walsh ripping on the guitar and Glenn wailing away, the whole place just exploded. Everyone was up and dancing, as it was impossible to sit down. I remember watching Grand Dame Lita Heller dancing on the table she and her husband, Mort, had purchased so they could be up front. At the end of the night, the manager of the hotel came up to me and promised that I would never hold another event at the Ritz-Carlton as long as he worked there. A sure sign of success.
But it was the Art From the Heart of 1994 that went down in history. By then artists were coming out of the woodwork to be part of the gallery show, and the rock 'n' roll memorabilia was over the top. Since the Ritz was now out of the equation, the show was brought back to the China Club. We put out the rumor that there might be another special guest joining Glenn and Walsh, and of course, the show sold out in hours. The night of the show, the club was packed and buzzing with energy. After the break, the band came back out and played a few more numbers, and then Glenn announced that a friend of his was joining them for the final songs. With that, Don Henley stepped on stage, sat down at his drum kit, adjusted his mic and started singing "The Boys of Summer." And after 14 years of Glenn and Don not sharing the stage together, the town of Aspen witnessed the moment that hell froze over.
That was the last Art From the Heart, as the Eagles got back into the recording and touring scene again to the joy of millions of fans around the world. Those three shows raised a lot of money for Grassroots Aspen, which provided many kids from the inner city a chance to change their lives for the better. And we in Aspen got to be part of it. It was a helluva ride. Thanks, Glenn; you'll be missed.