Music

Keith Urban Remembers Production Manager Killed by Stage Fall: 'I'm Grateful He Chose Us as His Road Family'

Mickey Bernal/FilmMagic

Randy "Baja" Fletcher, a veteran tour production manager for numerous rock and country acts, died on Aug. 27, a day after suffering serious injuries from falling off the stage while preparing for a Keith Urban concert.

Production Lights and Staging News reports that the accident occurred on Aug. 26 in Put in Bay, Ohio, where Urban performed at the Bash on the Bay event. Fletcher was medevaced to a hospital in Toledo, where the 73-year-old "passed peacefully surrounded by family and loved ones."

"Randy Baja Fletcher loved people," Urban told Billboard. "Now that's a phrase that's a lot easier, and more often said than done. But, this man truly did love people, and music, and life, and he lived it right. He saw the commonality in all of us and I can promise you this, once you'd been in the orbit of his light, he'd stay with you forever.

"Some people ask are you a 'glass half full or a glass half empty' kinda person?" Urban continued. "Baja's view was, 'What a beautiful glass.' I loved him. We all loved him, and I'm grateful he chose us as his road family for 10 years."

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Before spending a decade on the road with Urban, Fletcher worked on the tour crews of Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Randy Travis (for his first headlining tour) and Brooks & Dunn.

"You run the road long enough, and you find out in our business, 'It takes all kinds.' Randy Fletcher, or Baja, or the 'Gorilla,' was the best of the best -- if he ever had a bad day he never showed it," Brooks & Dunn's Kix Brooks told Billboard. "If there was ever a problem out there he couldn't solve, I never heard about it, and if he ever had a cross word to say about anybody, there's a good chance, they were no friend of mine. We ran the road for almost 20 years together, and when Ronnie and I took a break in 2010, Urban made the quick call. Baja was a guaranteed asset to any tour, but much more importantly, he was the comfort any tour must have when the road gets long, when the crew gets tired, when the smiles began to fade at the end of a long day -- he was the man! Rest in peace, my friend -- you will be missed."

Fletcher won the inaugural CMA Touring Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017. A year later, the CMA Touring Awards named him its Production Manager of the Year.

"Today our community is mourning a leader and mentor to many in our industry," said CMA CEO Sarah Trahern in a press release. "Our hearts are with his daughters and family, as well as his numerous road families through the years. His influence has reached generations of artists and crew personnel. He played an integral role in some of country's most pioneering tours and supported the careers of some of the most celebrated country music icons. His impact is far-reaching. He will be dearly missed."

Beyond his work with Nashville stars, Fletcher hit the road in the '60s with Bill Deal and the Rhondels. After serving his country in Vietnam for the U.S. Army, he landed a gig with ZZ Top.

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Keith Urban Remembers Production Manager Killed by Stage Fall: 'I'm Grateful He Chose Us as His Road Family'