In Memoriam: Touring Veteran Randy ‘Baja’ Fletcher Celebrated At Nashville’s Soundcheck Annex

Randy “Baja” Fletcher
– Randy “Baja” Fletcher
with daughters Natalie and Lucinda.
Randy “Baja” Fletcher never had a bad day. Or rather, the people who loved him, worked with him, laughed with him never knew it – and that may have marked the 2010 Parnelli Lifetime Achievement Award and inaugural 2017 Country Music Association’s Touring Lifetime Achievement Award winner’s life as much as the acts he worked with.
That love was fully displayed at Nashville’s Soundcheck Annex Sunday as several hundred gathered to celebrate the life of the production manager/trail boss who produced the good time circus for Waylon Jennings, ZZ Top, Randy Travis, Brooks & Dunn and Keith Urban. 
Put together by Urban tour manager Chris Hull and Baja’s equally bright and shining daughters Natalie Fletcher and Lucinda Hefner, the memorial was marked by life lessons, crazy stories and fat more laughter than tears.
When Reba McEntire opens the service with “The Lord’s Prayer,” then reminds the assembled of Baja’s love of the Yankees as a way of leading a singalong “Take Me Out To The Ballgame,” Fletcher’s life becomes clear. Sublime, divine, but always about the joy in every moment.
Whether it was his best friend/lifelong touring compadre David “Hud” Haney explaining “He taught me more about friendship than anyone – and it started with his mother Inez, who said, ‘If you want to have a friend, be a friend,’” then regaling the assembled to sweet stories of their worldwide wild adventures with Jennings and the country music Mount Rushmore tours by the Highwaymen (Jennings, Johnny Cash,  Kris Kristofferson or Willie Nelson), pranks and running jokes, or his pastor Reverend Chuck Farmer who didn’t know Fletcher’s name was “Baja” for years, but would occasionally accompany his always sunny congregant to the rodeo to watch Fletcher’s daughters Lucinda and Natalie ride, each showed both the Virginia Beach surf kid’s human and divine sides.
For Urban, who spent a decade on the road with Baja, “it was always about the way he brings such good to everyone and every situation. He was always about what brings us together.” Laughing, he revealed the magic formula as being, “one part Yosemite Sam, one part Spicoli, two parts Dennis the Menace, a big heap of circus ringmaster and a lot of Ted Lasso. I think Ted Lasso actually got it all from Baja.” 

Baja’s World:
– Baja’s World:
Fletcher was the longtime production manager for major artists including Waylon Kennings, ZZ Top, Randy Travis, Brooks & Dunn and Keith Urban.
Kix Brooks told a hilarious story of being in Cleveland on a co-bill with McEntire, while the Yankees were playing the Indians for the Division championship. Throwing a jacket over Brooks’ “ugly shirt,” they left the show in progress, went through the tunnels from the arena to the baseball stadium, watched the game – and were making their way back dangerously close to the start of Brooks & Dunn’s set when the Yankees had a homerun with bases loaded to beat Cleveland 4-3.
Blazing across the field, Baja went wild – and Cleveland focused its wrath on the production manager with full ballast. Undaunted, Brooks sprinted across grass, through tunnels to the cart that went down the tracks and delivered him at the trap door where Dunn, guitar-on-ready, said, “Really?”
Baja’s response: “Can you believe that?”
That defined a man equal parts merry prankster, consummate professional, good friend, profound father and believer in the dream that drives artists. Dunn ultimately sang what may be one of the finest versions of the CMA Song and Single of the Year “Believe,” which contains the line “I can’t quote the book, the chapter or the verse/ You can’t tell me… this all ends… with a slow ride in a hearse…”
Brooks & Dunn’s longtime manager Clarence Spalding recalled Fletcher’s compassion. “Baja arrived in February. I got here in March. Scott Edwards (their tour manager) arrived in April. And we were on that magic carpet that was Brooks & Dunn for 17 years…”
Rather than tell funny stories, the usually upbeat Spalding recounted a rough patch he’d gone through, that felt like he’d fallen into a hole. When the doctors and priests failed him, Baja understood. “He jumped down into the hole with me, and I asked, ‘What are you doing?’ He said, ‘I’ve been here before, and I know the way out…’”
Classic Fletcher: he saw what someone in need, and he gave it to them. A massive smile, broad shoulders and the kind of love that envelopes people he’d never met, the stories showed the way road families come together, but more the way Fletcher’s love transcended that camaraderie.
His daughter Lucinda Hefner marveled at her Dad coming in from Hershey, Pa., on her wedding day. Hair still wet, just in time to walk her down the aisle, he looked at his little girl, flashed that smile, and announced, “Let’s rock this!”
Smiling that same smile, Hefner added, “His energy was contagious. And how cool is that he’s in heaven advancing the biggest show of his career?”
Randy “Baja” Fletcher
– Randy “Baja” Fletcher
Natalie Fletcher explained after having her “always gone” father at home for 19 months, he was so excited to get back to the road. “I’ll never forget the hug when he came down to the barn before he left to go to Nashville in August,” she marveled. “And our last call? I’m so proud of you. I love you and Lucinda more than you’ll ever know. I will you see on Sunday. BEST FINAL CALL EVER.”
Sunday, obviously, never came. Fletcher died after falling off a stage in Put-In-Bay, Ohio, where Urban was headlining a one-off show. But road warriors like Baja: you can’t extinguish their light, or their love. Urban crew member Andy Snider, wearing a suit and a tie, talked about Baja’s love of confetti. “The confetti moment. He owned that. It went from an end of show gag to a ritual. When that moment hit, he said ‘GO’ and they started (blowing the confetti) … Baja took his joy seriously. He practiced. Everywhere. With tiny bits of colored paper … He knew the little bits of colored paper were just as important as the opening song.”
Collecting himself a bit, Snider spoke of Urban’s crew being back on the road and the flatness after losing Baja. “We were doing the confetti – and I heard him say, ‘Just look down, hoss.’ I saw the smiles, all the laughter. And I realized: Here he was falling from the sky in spirit. In all these bits of colored paper
“I’ll end with what we in the Keith Urban world call a Baja-ism: You can’t charge that to a credit card!”
Indeed. After more than 100 minutes of remembrances, stories, pictures and hugs, tequila (and apple juice) shots were distributed as a video of “the proper Baja way to shoot Tequila” was shown (hint: throw the salt over your shoulder). As the cheer of “Life is good” rang out, the glasses raised and the shots went down, it was a perfect send-off.
That’s when the confetti cannons started blowing – blue and white, for the Yankees – and a massive shower of little bits of colored paper rained down. Just the way Baja lived, falling down on those who loved him the most. 

Donations to celebrate the life of Randy “Baja” Fletcher can be made to the following:

ACM Lifting Lives. Please indicate DHERF/Baja Fletcher when making contribution (In the box “Donate To”) 
OR SIMS Foundation. On the donation page, there is a check box where you can dedicate your donation. Click on it and more is displayed.