Alex Cooley (b. 1939)
Alex Cooley has been called "the unofficial mayor of Atlanta music" and credited as the man who brought rock and roll to Atlanta. In his thirty-five-year career as a concert promoter, Cooley has put on thousands of shows, bringing to his hometown almost every major musical act in the world for millions of music fans. He has owned and operated some of the city's legendary rock music nightclubs, in addition to founding the Music Midtown festival in 1994.
Cooley brought a variety of high-profile performers, including Frank Sinatra, the Rolling Stones, and Madonna, to such Atlanta venues as the Fox Theatre, the Omni, Chastain Park, and the Lakewood Amphitheater. He also opened Alex Cooley's Electric Ballroom, where many stars, including Bruce Springsteen, made their Atlanta debuts. He has also owned the Coca-Cola Roxy, the Tabernacle (located in the same building where his mother attended church as a child), and the Cotton Club.
In 1994 Cooley realized a long-held dream when he and Conlon promoted the inaugural Music Midtown, a three-day festival in Atlanta that featured a diversity of musical talent on a number of stages. By the festival's tenth anniversary in 2003, Music Midtown had grown to hold eleven stages, more than 120 artists, and some 200,000 fans on a thirty-five acre tract and was considered to be the nation's largest three-day music festival.
A man who works just as hard for environmental and animal welfare agencies as he does in his promotion business, Cooley has earned the respect of his peers in the music industry for his integrity and honesty. He was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1987 and in 1993 was appointed to the Board of Governors for the Atlanta chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (the organization that distributes the annual Grammy Awards).
In 2004 Cooley was recognized—along with producer Dallas Austin, pianist Chuck Leavell, and the musical group OutKast—as a recipient of the Atlanta chapter of the Recording Academy's Atlanta Hero Award.
Ursula Alexander, "Alex Cooley, Rock 'n' Roll Messiah?" Atlanta Gazette, November 6, 1974.
Steve Dollar, "Big Man, Big Festival: Alex Cooley's Music Midtown May Become Concert King's Crowning Legacy," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 7, 1995.
Chris Starrs, Athens
A project of the Georgia Humanities Council, in partnership with the University of Georgia Press, the University System of Georgia/GALILEO, and the Office of the Governor.