Bob Weir Concert Tape and Others Recovered
From Rocky Mountain News:
Producer of historic U2 show seeks tapes from city
By Mark Brown, Rocky Mountain News
It's a rock music treasure trove that Rick Wurpel feared was lost: more than 160 reels of audio and video footage, including some of U2's legendary Under a Blood Red Sky concert at Red Rocks.
Now that it's been found years after disappearing from storage, Wurpel wants to know why the city of Denver paid someone for the footage and kept it for five years without telling him.
City officials said Wednesday it was just a misunderstanding and they will return the tapes as soon as Wurpel can prove that his company, TTS Entertainment Group, owns them.
For his part, Wurpel said the city, which owns Red Rocks, seemed more concerned with "covering their butts."
"I don't care if (the city) did something wrong, just give me the freakin' tapes," he said.
Wurpel's company produced the 1983 U2 concert, which was made into a special on Showtime. He's credited in places such as the Internet Movie Database. A group of investors put up part of the funding for the shoot under a partnership called Feyline Video 82.
Wurpel, who supervised the filming, sent what he believed to be the master tapes to U2 manager Paul McGuinness in 2001.
"I shipped them off to Paul and the lads in Dublin" when the group was contemplating a DVD release of the show, he said. But Wurpel kept some additional footage and backup copies.
After closing his business for a few years, Wurpel got back in the game last year, participating in Live 8 and shooting Earth, Wind & Fire at Red Rocks last August.
It was when he opened a new office in Santa Monica, Calif., that he did some inventory "and I really started to notice that there were things missing."
Jack Finlaw, head of the division of theaters and arenas, explained that several years ago Mary Beth Anderson, who once worked for Wurpel, approached the city and offered them the U2 tapes and other shows that Wurpel's company shot.
"She said she'd been storing some tapes" and was going to throw them away unless the city was interested, Finlaw said. Director of Marketing Erik Dyce paid Anderson $3,000 for her storage costs and took possession of the tapes, Finlaw said.
The city did not make Dyce available for comment and Anderson couldn't be reached.
In February, Wurpel's wife ran into Anderson in a store after Wurpel had spent years trying to find her. Anderson told her the tapes had gone to the city.
According to a handwritten inventory given to the city by Anderson, there are 164 reels. The list includes master tapes of Bob Weir and Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul from a Rainbow Music Hall show, Savoy Brown, U2, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and concerts such as Farm Aid and the KOOL Koncert. The shows took place at a variety of venues.
"Until I inventory it and see what they've got, I don't know," Wurpel says. He says he was told by Dyce that the city had copied some of the footage to DVD.
Attorney Michael Carrington, who represents Wurpel and the group who put up the U2 money, is in the process of unraveling the mess.
"They paid $3,000 to $5,000 for stuff without knowing who the owner was," the lawyer said.
The city's interest was preservation, Finlaw said.
"Theaters and Arenas took over custody of the tapes from her," he said, referring to Anderson. "We've never used them or distributed them in any way or claimed ownership."
"We feel like we've done a service to whoever the owner is," Finlaw said later. "We've protected them and stored them."
The city attorney's office is awaiting documentation from Carrington. It could be a long process, however, because someone will have to verify what performances are on the 164 tapes before documentation proving ownership can be obtained.