There will be a memorial on July 2 for Mark Lee, a legendary concert promoter and an important figure in the Dallas rock music scene. Lee, a Dallas native and resident, died June 20; he was 74 years old.
Lee was co-owner of The Hot Klub, the famous 1980s punk rock club that hosted local and international punk, new wave and reggae bands and helped galvanize the local music scene.
Later, with his concert promotion company 462, Inc., he and partner Danny Eaton were responsible for bringing hundreds of major acts to Dallas venues such as the Bronco Bowl and Trees.
Jeffrey Liles, artistic director of The Kessler, worked with Lee and Eaton in the 80s and 90s at Trees and Theater Gallery.
“I can’t tell you how many amazing shows Mark and Danny have brought to us in the first three years that Trees has been open,” says Liles. “Nirvana, Radiohead, Soundgarden, Bob Mould, Swervedriver. What a blessing he thought of working with us.”
“Theatre Gallery, same deal,” he says. “Jane’s Addiction, Red Hot Chili Peppers, 10,000 Maniacs. And her Bronco Bowl gigs were legendary: The Smiths, The Cure, The Clash, U2, REM, Echo & the Bunnymen, and more.”
“If you’ve ever been to a big show at the Hot Klub, the Arcadia Theater, the Bronco Bowl, the Trees, the Theater Gallery, or the Lakewood Theater, chances are Mark has booked it,” says Liles.
Mike Snider, owner of AllGood Cafe, called him “the original concert promoter”.
A prodigy, Lee was born on December 13, 1946 and went to Hillcrest High School, but began developing and managing bands such as Kenny and the Kasuals when he was barely out of his teens. He has also worked overseas as a rock photographer, as he describes in this WFAA clip.
His involvement in music has followed rock ‘n’ roll’s journey, starting in the 60s, through the punk rock era and beyond.
In the 2000s, he and his wife and partner Linda Lee took over the Lakewood Theater booking until 2011. This ended up being his final in the industry.
“He had already gone back to school to get his master’s degree, and he continued to teach and inspire students for years,” Linda says. He became an adjunct professor in the Dallas College system, teaching humanities at El Centro and Eastfield College; he also taught at Lakeview Centennial High School in Garland.
This generosity of spirit made him unique in a field that can sometimes be ruthless.
Russell Hobbs, owner of The Door, recalls that “the great thing about Mark [was that] he let us put on all the cool local bands from Deep Ellum with touring gigs at the Bronco Bowl, Arcadia, etc.
Randy Murphy, owner of Main Frame Art Service, said “Mark was also very generous. He helped out countless times with free tickets and passes to local KNON and KNTU stations.”
Reid Robinson, owner of Brizo and the Forum Club in Richardson, said “Mark was such a nice guy, kinda rare in this area of the business”, and Phillip Marshall, who worked with Lee on the lighting, said that “Besides being an absolute legend in the music industry here in Dallas, he was a nice guy overall. That’s rare. He was one of a kind.
Tami Thomsen, who works in band management, recalled working with Mark and said “his impact on Dallas music might have been behind the scenes, but it was significant nonetheless”.
KNON DJ Nancy “Shaggy” Moore said “If you ever went to the Bronco Bowl to see your favorite punk rock bands in the ’80s, you have this man to thank. The Dallas music scene owes Mark Lee a huge thank you. and big credit for giving all of us punk kids a chance.”
Danny Eaton, his longtime business partner, who now works for Outback Presents, recalls that “Mark and I did literally thousands of shows together, starting with Flower Fair in 1968, where tickets were a dollar. We traveled many miles together and got to know each other about as well as two humans could.”
“Mark was really quite a spiritually aware person and I know where his journey takes him now, he’s free as a bird,” he says. “As evidenced by all the comments people have made, he freely shared his deep knowledge. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him. My heart and sympathy goes out to all who loved him, especially his wife Linda , his daughter Jamie and his brother. Gary. Rest in sublime peace, my friend.”
The memorial takes place July 2 from 7-10 p.m. at the Kessler, and is open and free to all. “Mark meant so much to the North Texas alternative music community, and this will be a great opportunity to honor him,” the event page reads.