If you’re a classic rock star from the ’50s through the ’70s, who is your best friend? Well, if you are Mark Lindsay, Micky Dolenz, Flo & Eddie, or Peter Noone, chances are it’s powerhouse booking agent Wendy Kay.
As the head of Utopia Artists in Jupiter, Fla, Kay is the brains behind several of the most successful “package” tours to traversing the country.
Whether you’re favorite genre is ‘60s pop, ‘70s disco, Motown, ‘50s doo-wop, or bubblegum, a strong possibility exists that Wendy has put together a concert tour for you.
A “baby boomer” herself, Wendy came to the business naturally; her father, Arnie Kay, originally started Mars Talent Agency.
Arnie’s forte was primarily the ‘50s and ‘60s stars, and in 1985 Wendy came aboard at the company. When Arnie passed in 1993, she joined her mother, Rosalie, in running the company.
Since that time, she has continued to mine gold by creatively taking the company into new realms. Now that Rosalie has retired from the business, the creative impetus is entirely Wendy’s.
“After my father passed away,” explains Wendy, “the phone started ringing, and at the other end of the line were all of the acts who my father used to work with, wondering what they were going to do now that Dad was gone.
“I just grabbed the baton, and took over the company. Most of these people were stars that my dad worked with, so they were like lifelong friends.”
Like everyone in show business who really enjoys what they do, Wendy says it’s almost like she is working with family.
“I have known all of the acts since I was a little girl. I have a good reputation in the business, and I love what I do. I love the artists, I create the art, and I love the music, and it’s just something that has been part of my life forever,” she says.
“Mark Lindsay, who was the lead singer for Paul Revere & The Raiders, is one of my favorite singers,” she says. “He and I have worked together over the last ten years, since the ‘90s.
“We are not only friends, but he is one of my best clients. He is a great guy and a great vocalist.”
I just started working with the group Pablo Cruise. My specialty is packaging shows, and I change my packages all of the time for variety,” she says.
“I am currently booking a show called ‘Acoustically Speaking,’ which features Terry Sylvester of The Hollies, and he is an inductee in The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
“I have worked with him for years. In that package is John Ford Coley—from the duo England Dan & John Ford Coley, and Fran Cosmo—formerly of Boston, and I have put Pablo Cruise on the bill to close the show.”
Not only does Wendy put together the package shows from a vast roster, but she also is the exclusive booking agent for several of the acts in the shows.
She loves to come up with new ideas for creative musical package tours from the ’50s to the ’90s.
“I am currently booking a show called ‘Teen Idols’ with Mark Lindsay, Peter Noone of Herman & The Hermits, and Micky Dolenz, of The Monkees,” she says.
I also do a ‘Disco Dance Party’ show with Gloria Gaynor and Maxine Nightingale. As long as I can be creative, and keep changing it up, and keep the artists working, I am happy!”
The crowds that Wendy’s package tours draw are very varied generationally.
“A lot of nostalgic music is played in TV commercials and in movies, and on TV shows, and because of these tours, people are able to come out and see the actual people who created some of their favorite music,” she says.
Some of the packages that Wendy has put together include “The Sensational ‘60s Show,” “The Super Hits of the ‘70s,” “Sock Hop Party,” “Motown Mania,” “Fabian’s Good Time Rock & Roll Show,” “Bubblemania” and “Happy Daze!”
The “Sensational Sixties Show,” one of the most popular, has included Gary Lewis & The Playboys, Mark Lindsay, Lou Christie, The Shangri-las, and Mitch Ryder.
Another tour, entitled “The British Invasion Returns,” featured Billy J. Kramer, Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders, The Foundations—with lead singer Clem Curtis, and Mike Pender’s Searchers.
The Super Hits of the ‘70s Show featured Bo Donaldson & The Heywoods, Ron Dante of The Archies, Andy Kim, Alan O’Day, and Al Wilson.
Motown Mania is another of Wendy’s favorite tours.
“I work with Richard Street, who was one of the lead singers of The Temptations in the ‘70s. Over the years The Temptations changed members, and there are actually three different groups of Temptations on tour” she explains.
“I have booked him with Martha Reeves & The Vandellas. Martha is a wonderful lady, and I love working with her, too. On that show I have also booked The Contours as well. Everyone loves Motown music.”
Very often, Wendy goes out on the road with the acts that she books. One of her fondest memories was being out on the road with famed radio disc jockey Wolfman Jack.
“I learned so much about the business from him,” she recalls. As long as there are fans for all of this great music, Kay will be right there booking the talent. It is her deep love of the music, and the artists that keeps her going.”