Radio and label veteran Barney Kilpatrick has died at the age of 65. According to his family, Kilpatrick suffered from depression and anxiety for many years and took his own life on Dec. 3.
Kilpatrick was born in Snyder, Texas, before moving to New Orleans at a young age. From then on, Kilpatrick identified deeply with the culturally rich city. He earned an undergraduate degree in journalism from Louisiana State University and received a law degree from Tulane University shortly afterwards.
During his time at Tulane and prior, he was on-air talent at the college radio station WTUL. He later DJ’d as Barney K at one of the earliest top 40 stations in the U.S., WTIX-AM in New Orleans.
His love for music was ever-present. Kilpatrick took piano lessons from New Orleans’ legendary Roosevelt Sykes and went on to be an early organizer for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
In 1985, Kilpatrick took on the local radio promotion job at IRS Records in Dallas. He was later promoted to the IRS home office in Los Angeles before moving to Houston to do radio promotion for Warner Bros. Records in 1988. Warner promoted Kilpatrick and returned him to Los Angeles where he became a vp in 1995, working closely with Van Halen, Madonna, Seal and Prince in the CHR/Top 40 department.
Kilpatrick made his way back to the South in 2000 when he joined Capricorn Records in Atlanta. From there, he managed and booked The Von Trapp Family Singers.
Kilpatrick eventually set up his own companies, Rockit Artist Management and Rattlesby Records. He also headed the symphony division at the Skyline Artists booking agency for several decades.
In recent years, Kilpatrick and his wife of 34 years, Valerie, moved back to New Orleans. Kilpatrick was most recently working with Nashville-based manager Neal Spielberg.
Kilpatrick is survived by his wife Valerie and their four children, Mary, Katherine, Jimmy and Charlie. A memorial will be held in New Orleans on Saturday at Jacob Schoen & Son Funeral Home. Visitation with family and friends will begin at 12 p.m. CST, followed by a brief service at 2 p.m. CST and a reception at Rosedale Restaurant from 3-5 p.m. CST. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that gifts be made in Kilpatrick’s honor to the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic suicide prevention program.