BY MELISSA RUGGIERI
The legacy of Alex Cooley will be celebrated with a Saturday gathering at The Tabernacle (which is free and open to the public).
But on Monday, Cooley’s memory was honored at Atlanta City Hall with two awards – the Phoenix Award, which Mayor Kasim Reed said was the highest honor the city is able to bestow, as well as with a proclamation that declared Jan. 4, 2016 as “Alex Cooley Day.”
Dozens of friends and family members, including Cooley’s sister, Ethel, were in attendance as Councilman Clarence T. Martin reminded how different the Atlanta music scene might be without Cooley’s tremendous influence.
Mayor Reed referred to Cooley, who died on Dec. 1 at the age of 75, as “the unofficial mayor of Atlanta music,” and added, “His influence in Atlanta will live on for generations.”
Peter Conlon, president of Live Nation Atlanta who was close to Cooley as a friend and business partner for decades, choked up as he talked about Cooley’s commitment to Atlanta and his determination to help race relations in the city in the ‘60s.
Conlon joked that Cooley established the International Pop Festival in 1969, “When the only international thing we had in Atlanta at the time was Waffle House.”
Conlon also noted that the pop fest took place the same year as Woodstock. “The only difference was that Alex’s (festival) made money,” Conlon said. “But it was never about the money with Alex – it was about the performance.”
Also taking the podium was Cooley’s right-hand man in recent years at Eddie’s Attic, Andrew Hingley.
Hingley also became emotional as he recalled how Cooley was incredibly young at heart.
“He was someone I relied on every day and I didn’t want to go a day without seeing…he was a friend, a mentor and certainly a father figure.”
Cooley’s memorial at The Tabernacle on Saturday will begin at 7 p.m.