Keith Urban Remembers Production Manager Who Died After Stage Fall: ‘We All Loved Him’
Keith Urban is mourning the loss of a close longtime member of his touring family. The country superstar is remembering his production manager, Randy "Baja" Fletcher, as the sort of man whose influence would "stay with you forever."
Fletcher died on Aug. 27, one day after suffering an injury while setting up for Urban's concert at Bash on the Bay in Put in Bay, Ohio, on Aug. 26. Production Lights and Staging News reports that Fletcher suffered serious injuries that required him to be medevaced to a hospital in Toledo, where he died "peacefully" the next day with his family and loves ones surrounding him. He was 73 years old.
"Randy Baja Fletcher loved people," Urban says in a statement to 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 adds. "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."
Fletcher launched his five-decade career on the road in the '60s at age 17, working with Bill Deal and the Rhondels. He took a break to serve in the U.S. Army, during which time he served in Vietnam before returning to work with the Rhondels. After an early stint with ZZ Top, Fletcher started working with Waylon Jennings as his stage and production manager in 1978. That gig lasted for ten years, during which time he also worked with Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Willie Nelson and more.
He worked with Randy Travis on Travis' first headlining tour in 1988, and that job lasted another five years, after which Fletcher started working with a new duo called Brooks & Dunn. He worked as their production manager for 18 years, during which time they rose to prominence as one of country music's most exciting live acts on the strength of their forward-thinking stage shows.
Fletcher began working as Urban's production manager in 2011, after Brooks & Dunn played what they billed as their final show and went into a period of inactivity. That job continued until his death.
The Country Music Association honored Fletcher with its first-ever CMA Touring Lifetime Achievement award in 2017. He was named Production Manager of the Year at the CMA Touring Awards in 2018.