Randy Gray passes

Allen Mills with his friend Randy Gray at the 2017 Colorado River Festival

When we spoke with Allen Mills of Lost & Found fame earlier this week, it was because he wanted to let us know of the passing of his good friend, Randy Gray, who promoted the Colorado River Bluegrass Festival in Bullhead City, AZ for many years.

Randy was a contemporary of Allen’s, and had just turned 85 years of age. The two grew up together near Danville, VA in the 1940s. According to Allen, Randy passed away about a week ago, but we have been unable to find a definitive date.

Mills recalls a number of details about his old friend.

“Randy left Danville and moved to Los Angeles with his landscaping business, eventually settling in Bullhead City, and got married. Then one year he approached me about coming to play for a festival he was putting together there. They did it about 9 years and then moved, so Randy started doing shows at a local Ramada Inn.

He brought Lost & Found, the Reno Boys, Larry Stephenson, David Parmley, and lots of others out west where we rarely played. I remember he always held his festival the weekend after the Super Bowl. People around there trusted Randy, and always supported his shows. He introduced a lot of people to bluegrass.

I remember when we had the Ride Through the Country album in 1995, we sold $2200 worth of CDs after a single show.

Whenever anyone went out there to play, he would take the bands riding through the Grand Tetons, and take us fishing.

Randy just loved life, the world, and music… a super great guy. He never sought publicity for himself, just liked working behind the scenes.

He and I were the same age, and we stayed in touch, talking pretty much every week. I guess he hadn’t done much since he’s been ill this past three years.”

Gray managed these festivals in Bullhead City out of his own resources, not much worrying about making a profit, but trying not to lose money in any given year.

Allen tells us that Randy did it for his love of bluegrass, and bluegrass people.

“He absolutely loved the music, and was a chance taker, entrepreneur, and did a lot for the artists in that part of the state.

He funded all the festivals himself, and kept the ticket prices low. They always had a good crowd of retirees – snowbirds they call them.

They say that every successful bluegrass musician has a very successful wife, and that was his Rosalee.”

Unfortunately, we have no information about funeral services, but did want to let Randy’s friends in both Virginia and Arizona know of his passing.

R.I.P., Randy Gray.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.