Bob Fox, the concert promoter who helped launch Kiss in Detroit and assisted the rejuvenation of the downtown theater district, died today at home in Boyne City. He was 62.
The cause of death was undetermined as of this evening, though family members suspected a heart attack, said Mike Novak, Fox’s former attorney.
A decorated Marine who had served in Vietnam, Fox founded Brass Ring Productions in 1974, quickly turning it into the region’s top independent concert promoter.
With his Brass Ring partners Michael Tinik and Rick Kraniak, Fox handled many of Detroit’s top rock shows for the next three decades, including dates at Cobo Arena, Joe Louis Arena and the Pontiac Silverdome. Among the key dates were some of the earliest visits by Kiss, including the band’s historic mid-’70s shows at Cobo — concerts memorialized on the album “Alive” and the anthem “Detroit Rock City.”
The company’s Silverdome bookings included shows by Madonna and the Rolling Stones.
“Bob was a talented entrepreneur who understood the rock ’n’ roll industry better than anyone I ever met,” said Novak, Brass Ring’s in-house attorney from 1985 to 2002. “He had wonderful instincts for show business.”
Fox and Brass Ring diversified over time, pioneering Meadow Brook Music Festival, reinvigorating Royal Oak Music Theatre and running Harpos, the east-side hard rock club. A friend of boxing bigwig Don King, Fox became a leading producer of closed-circuit fight broadcasts in the 1980s.
In the mid-’80s, with the looming debut of the Palace of Auburn Hills, Fox realized business at Detroit’s downtown arenas was set to take a hit. He became part of a behind-the-scenes group that helped convince pizza magnate Mike Ilitch to purchase and renovate the dilapidated Fox Theatre.
Bringing shows to the Fox Theatre and the soon-revitalized State and Gem theaters, Fox was in the thick of the Woodward venue revival during the 1990s.
Fox was a largely hands-off delegator who rarely attended his company’s concerts. But he was known for audacious public offers to entertainers, including an unsuccessful $11-million bid to lure Barbra Streisand for a Detroit run in the ’90s. He did land a high-powered trio for the Fox Theatre’s reopening celebration in 1988, scoring Frank Sinatra, Liza Minnelli and Sammy Davis Jr. with a single phone call and $1.5-million offer.
Amid the rise of competitor Cellar Door — eventually Live Nation — Brass Ring remained the exclusive promoter at the Fox through 2000, ultimately ceding the booking contract to the Ilitches’ Olympia Entertainment after lengthy, acrimonious litigation. Fox retired in 2003 and moved to Boyne City.
He is survived by his wife, Pamela Fox; two sons and a daughter.
Funeral arrangements are expected to be announced today
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