The Music Man

By Beverlye Fead   |   April 19, 2018
Aging in High Heels author Beverlye Hyman Fead and her husband of 32 years, “Music Man” Bob Fead, on their wedding day (circa 1986)

My next subject is someone I know very well. Oh, okay, full disclaimer: his name is Bob Fead and… he’s my husband. But, I would be interested in writing about his life even if he weren’t my husband. Whenever anyone learns he’s been in the music business, these are the answers to the questions he gets asked: “Yes,” “yes,” “yes,” “yes,” “yes,” and “yes.”

Did he know Paul, Ringo, John, George, and Elvis? The answer is “Yes” to all the above. He was lucky enough to be starting in the music biz when they all came on the scene. He was at his most active in the “Golden Era,” but I am getting ahead of myself.

Bob was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. He was the youngest of four children and the son of a semi-pro baseball player who died at an early age. Bob’s oldest brother’s took over the parenting job (17 years older) and encouraged Bob in everything he did, especially to leave Omaha.

Bob graduated North High, where he was later named outstanding graduate of 1952. He worked for a couple years at an Indian youth center to get enough money to pay for his college; one of his summer jobs was to take photos for the photo finish at racetracks all over the country. That led him to love horse racing the rest of his life. He even was part owner of a race horse, called Good Old Papa. He joined Pi Kappa Alpha in college and eventually became president of the fraternity. All along the way, he worked in clothing stores. He could see his future in retail. 

But life plays funny tricks.

After college, he came to California to work for a shirt company. The first night he arrived in Los Angeles, he went to a party, and it changed the course of his life forever. He met a man who said Bob would make a good promotion man in the music business. He was willing to pay $85 a week, which was a lot of money in those days; Bob accepted the offer on the spot. He had no idea what to do, or what a promotion man was. His new employer gave him a record, told him to take it to radio stations to promote. He did.

That was how he came to Liberty Records and to a business he has loved to this day.

Bob Fead (as a model in a newspaper ad) set his early sights on a career in the men’s clothing business

After five years at Liberty, Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss came to him and offered a job at a new company they were starting called A&M Records. That launched Bob into a long and illustrious career as a music executive. He became A&M’s senior VP. While there, Bob worked with Quincy Jones, Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass, Peter Frampton, Burt Bacharach, and many others. Years later, he became president of Burt Bacharach’s publishing company and stayed for 16 years… but I am getting ahead of myself.

Before Burt, Bob was named president of Famous Music, a unit of Paramount Pictures. 

This is where I come into the picture. A good friend of both of ours fixed us up on a blind date in New York, and as he and a friend approached the table, I thought to myself: “I hope it’s the one on the left.”

It was.

Thus began a loving, electric love affair that eventually ended up in a marriage that has been going on successfully for 32 years. 

I had already moved to Montecito, and Bob and I shuttled back and forth, for years, between here and Los Angeles.

Bob was president of the music chapter of City of Hope and was named one of the “men of the year” in 1984. He served as a board member and later became president of Society Of Singers (SOS), a philanthropic organization that helped singers who had financial problems. He would have his friends come to entertain at a small venue in Los Angeles and charge a fee and give all the money to the SOS. There was Mac Davis, Jeff Barry, Jackie De Shannon, Jerry Fuller, Randy Edelman, just to name a few.

Every year, there would be a large gala, whereupon all the money raised was given to the SOS.

Bob still enjoys serving on an ASCAP board and The Johnny Mercer Foundation. He also loves to help young songwriters find writing partners and publishing. He has spoken at UCSB with fellow “Music Men” that live in and around Santa Barbara. He says Santa Barbara is home to some of the finest musicians, songwriters, and music executives you will ever find in one community. 

We now live in Montecito, full time with our dog, Sophia, except when we visit one of our four children, five grandchildren, or our favorite spot: Capri.

A little golf, breakfast with the guys, and great friends make life good for Bob Fead at 83 – even though he didn’t get into the shirt business after all.


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