Hailey's New Boss Fires Popular DJ by Text

Ex-club workers say hard-nosed management style a bad fit for Denton.

It's no secret Hailey's Club is not what it once was. Five years ago it was booking big-ticket shows on a consistent basis and was seen as a desirable stop for bigger touring indie acts.

Whatever the reason may be for the decline, whether it be the eventual exit of Spune's booking, the rise of venues such as the Granada Theater and Lola's or the recession, Hailey's was forced to change the way it did business. Instead of booking big shows once a month, it started relying on its DJ weeklies to keep people coming through the door.

In March, however, property manager Jerry W. Taylor bought 51 percent of the company, making previous owner Ray Gill a minority stakeholder and providing much-needed capital.

"I had a choice: I could either let it sink, or I could rescue it," Taylor says. "I decided to rescue it."

Part of Taylor's rescue strategy was firing resident '80s and '90s night DJ Joey Liechty, aka Yeahdef, via text message.

"[The] '90s night was the most consistent night of the week for us; we were almost always at capacity," says Mollie Reyes, former employee and manager of Lyuli Productions, who quit over her objections to Taylor's management style. "Jerry fired the one guy who gave him what he wanted: a full bar."

It could be argued that '90s night was popular simply because Hailey's is a better dance spot than the other Tuesday night sub-$1 well venues, although Tuesdays were routinely Hailey's best nights.

But Liechty knew his crowd, and terminating him via text message was a potentially costly decision.

"He slammed his fist on the table and yelled, 'I'm CEO! What I say goes!'" Liechty says, recounting his last encounter with Taylor, which Liechty requested minutes after being let go via SMS message. "He kept repeating how, 'I'm not worth an explanation.'"

The '90s night aside, Taylor's management style has had both positive and negative impacts.

"As an investor, Jerry is absolutely vital to the business," says Damon Bird, another ex-employee who left over Taylor's management style and policies. "He's got every right to implement the changes he's made, and he's obviously a successful business person."

According to Bird and Reyes, though, some of Taylor's more unpopular policies include shutting off acts he didn't like, trying to buy out the Boxcar Bandits from Dan's Silverleaf, vastly increasing house costs for bands and, in general, being a savvy businessman who's not savvy about the style, culture or ethics of Denton.

"Jerry views everyone in this community as either a source of revenue or competition," Bird says. "That's no way to exist in Denton."Rodrigo Diaz

 
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Guest
Guest

YeahDef killed Thursday nights. He was a good DJ that didn't know the genre of music he was hired to play.

He should have been fired a long time ago.

If Hailey's were at capacity on Tuesday with PAYING customers, then RAY would not have needed the cash to keep the place going.

YeahDef's poor music programming chased away the older, paying crowd and brought in minors who didn't spend money at the club.

Ray is as much to blame for letting it go as long as it did.

The author is this piece needs to do a little background research before writing a story like this.

Guest
Guest

I do agree with LilDNative that this story doesn't exactly portray both sides of the situation, but that doesn't mean what is going on at Hailey's is okay. Not everyone that Jerry has personally offended has made a huge deal out of it... for the most part people seem to just be going on with their lives whether press surrounds the issue or their story is heard or not. Journalism completely aside, I know from bands who have played there recently how rude and disrespectful he is, and completely difficult to deal with. I can't put a bill of bands together who are willing play there right now because fans are staying away from the venue. What it comes down to is that money makes the world go 'round, but since it seems to be his only focus (instead of on the community of which Denton is so proud), people are going to start refusing to give him any of their money. I manage multiple artists and I was going to try to book some shows there in the spring, but we have received unsolicited communication from fans letting us know that if we have a show at Hailey's they will not attend and will openly oppose anyone else attending. Even if I am not personally "boycotting" the venue, we cannot afford the negative backlash from the people who are. I would suggest to Jerry Taylor that at the very least he works on some positive PR for the establishment and does his best to explain the situation from his perspective to try to take some of the heat off of this issue and welcome the Denton community back to a familiar venue. If that doesn't happen, he is going to be hard pressed to find bands that can actually draw there because a band with a great draw is still useless if their fans are shunning the venue.

LilDNative
LilDNative

I am extremely upset at what is going on at Hailey's. The only good thing to come out of Jerry buying-in is that the tap wall is full again. This article upsets me even more though. I love Joey, Ray, Mollie, and Damon, but this isn't newsworthy. You're just trying to give Hailey's a bad wrap because some of your friends got fired or quit. The only sources you have are ex-employees who are, understandably, pissed off at the owner. If you want to write a good article, don't be so biased. Get some better quotes from Jerry or some of the current staff (some of which have been there for years).

 
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