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Another goodbye to a great guy

Phil Barber

While 2019 has been a strong year for my career, it’s been tough on my address book. Too many people who I like and admire have passed away much too soon. My good friend Peter Paull is gone as is my ex-brother in law Johnny Lee. And, as one of the organizers of my upcoming high school reunion, I’ve heard about a few classmates I’ve lost. 

On June 24, 2019, my friend Phil Barber passed away after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Today is his birthday. He founded the Barber & Associates talent agency in Knoxville, Tennessee. His company booked me for tons of work, and Phil served as my manager for many years.

Phil figured out what he wanted to do early in life. He started promoting concerts in high school and continued through his years at the University of Tennessee. As a member of the Campus Entertainment Board, he helped book concerts with artists such as Elton John, Jackson Browne, and James Taylor.

In 1977 he launched Barber & Associates and focused on corporate bookings and special events for everything from musical entertainment and comedy, to sports speakers and political figures.

During his two-year tenure on the board of directors for the International Entertainment Buyers Association, he had me emcee and entertain at one of the get-togethers. It event was filled with big names, all whom Phil knew personally.

He even tried stand-up for a while but realized his true mission was booking events. Still, he could host with humor when necessary.

His family was very important to him, especially his sons Ryan and Brandon. Of course, he made everyone he worked with feel like family after a short while.

He wasn’t all about work. Phil took up running one day and kept at it. He completed over a dozen marathons in a year. The lesson here is that it’s never too late to start something new. I’m grateful for his friendship, support and shared laughter. He will be missed.