Duluth businessman, local music advocate Rick Boo dies at 60

Boo, remembered as wry-humored, hard-working, and a welcoming point of entry into the local music scene, died suddenly Wednesday morning, according to close friends

Rick Boo, pictured here at the NorShor Theatre in 2000, died Wednesday. (file / News Tribune)

According to the Rick Boo lore, he was once the teenage manager of Saints Roller Rink, up by Miller Hill Mall. The Twin Cities’ known hellions The Replacements showed up drunk for a show there and about five or six songs into their set, Boo booted them from the stage.

Mark Lindquist, formerly of Duluth, knew of the moment from a cassette tape bootleg from the 1981 show. Years later, when Lindquist was working backstage at the NorShor Theatre — which Boo helped reopen and managed in the late 1990s — he made the connection to Boo.

“(Boo) remembered that day pretty well, so it was fun for me to put that image in my head to go with the cassette tape,” Lindquist said in a message Wednesday. “I think he’s kicked a few bands off stage during his time as a venue manager and seemed particularly proud of that incident in a humorous way.”

Boo, remembered as wry-humored, hard-working, and a welcoming point of entry into the local music scene, died suddenly Wednesday morning, according to close friends. No cause of death has been released to the public. He had four adult children.

The co-owner of Carmody Irish Pub and Brewing, who was behind Carmody 61 in Two Harbors, was 60. Not that his friends knew his age.


“He’s always been sneaky about his birthday,” said longtime friend Carolyn Reisberg. “He didn’t like a lot of accolades and attention.”

In 1998, Boo, son of former mayor Ben Boo, had a vision for downtown. He and his company Crossroads Flux reopened the NorShor as a movie theater, entertainment venue, arts magnet and bar. According to a News Tribune story that preceded the inaugural screening of “Eve’s Bayou”: “Boo hopes the film will start a profitable string of independent and art films that will pay to fix up the historic Duluth theater and kick-start the rebirth of Duluth’s Old Downtown.”

Scott "Starfire" Lunt said that without Boo, Homegrown Music Festival wouldn't exist. Back in the early NorShor days, Lunt was hosting a pirate radio station out of his basement. He approached Boo about hosting a CD release party for Random Radio at the historic theater.

"I was nervous because he wasn't really planning on having rock shows and the carpet was still clean," Lunt recalled. "If he had shot me down, I probably wouldn't have starting promoting shows and Homegrown may have never been born. And we made the carpet so dirty."

A theme among his friends, who gathered at in and outside of Carmody on Wednesday, was that Boo was a guy who gave people a shot, whether it was on a stage or behind the bar. Boo's response: "I'll give you the space to try it," recalled longtime friend Adam Guggemos.

Reisberg's band Fatty Pants earned a spot on the stage (and Boo's fandom); Bryan "Lefty" Johnson got a job from Boo, bartending at the NorShor.

"He brought everyone together," Johnson said. "Look at all these people. He was the best unifier Duluth has seen in a long time."

Reisberg had planned to see him Thursday for the Mayor's Reception to kick off Duluth Superior Pride. He had played a role in bringing the event to Bayfront Festival Park years ago, she said, another behind-the-scenes thing he did without much fanfare.


"He was really something else," she said. "He went the way he wanted to go. Boom! See you later, suckers."

Related Topics: MUSIC
Christa Lawler is a former reporter for the Duluth News Tribune.
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