Triangle Productions’ Frank Fried Dies

Frank Fried, who championed socially conscious folk music as well as The Rolling Stones over a long career in Chicago, died Jan. 13 at home in Alameda, Calif., at 87.

His production company, Triangle Productions, handled the Beatles’ 1964 Chicago debut at the International Amphitheatre as well as a 1965 return play at Comisky Park.

Fried’s proudest achievement was organizing a historic 1968 series of benefit concerts for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, at the request of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He began his political activism as a labor organizer with the Socialist Workers Party and merged it with music, eventually working as an assistant to Albert Grossman, who then owned the Gate of Horn folk music club.

He soon found himself managing the Gateway Singers and the Chad Mitchell Trio. During the McCarthy era, Fried was one of the first concert promoters to break a blacklist and book and sell out a series of Pete Seeger shows.

He also presented folk artists including Peter, Paul and Mary, Joan Baez, the Kingston Trio, and the Limelighters.

Fried moved on to promote rock shows after the folk era passed, presenting artists including the Stones, the Mothers of Invention, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream, Santana, Lou Reed and others.

He also promoted Chicago shows with Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra, Harry Belafonte, and Johnny Mathis.

He unsuccessfully tried his hand at venue management when he purchased Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom in the 1970s, but had better luck when he formed an investment group in 1975 to build the Rosemont Horizon, which he ran successfully until 1987.

Fried sold Triangle Productions to Madison Square Garden in the early 1980s and for a time was CEO of the Delta Queen Steamboat Co. in New Orleans, before moving to California and writing a memoir, “From Lenin to Lennon: The Unlikely Entertainment Career of an Unabashed Leftist.”

There will be a memorial celebration Jan. 24 at 4 p.m. at Grand View Pavilion in Alameda, Calif. The family requests donations in his memory be made to Amandla! Magazine c/o editor Brian Ashley, or to the Center for Constitutional Rights.