Doug Frye’s Little Gifts

The Las Vegas music scene lost its biggest fan with the sudden passing of this musician and DJ

Editor’s Note: Doug Frye, a.k.a. Doug De Nada, drummer for fantastic and defunct Las Vegas bands the Latest Flames and Sparkler Dims, died of cancer Jan. 7. A friendly face and much-loved fixture in local music for two decades, Frye did it all—DJ-ing sets at Double Down, running the soundboard at Artifice, getting a nice pit going during a Vermin show. His enthusiasm was matched only by his generosity of spirit.

Doug Frye and I were friends in that downtown kind of way. For a while, he was just a familiar face at the bars and shows we both frequented. We really started talking after I began running my stand-up comedy show out of Artifice. Within a few shows, Doug had taken over as the sound engineer. The sound quality increased immediately and if there was ever a problem, he was there to fix it.

He also became the DJ for my shows. Most people never consider how much a DJ can bring to a comedy show. He’d play whatever he wanted beforehand, usually upbeat stuff to keep the audience energized and then he’d play walk-on music as each comic was introduced.

It was during the walk-ons that I realized just how good he was. When I came up, he played Queens of the Stone Age’s “No One Knows.” I never would have considered this song—one I’d heard many times but ignored—as entrance music. But Doug knew. It immediately gave the whole show a new swagger and made me look like a bad-ass. He was there to make the show fly as high as it could. No matter how big or small his role, he put a lot of thought and enthusiasm into it. He was the silent star, just making everything better.

The last show I did with Doug was at El Cortez in September, where he DJ’d our comedy show for Neon Reverb. Here’s the truth—we both made shit money. Even what I could guarantee him was very little. But not only was Doug there, he was the first one there. He had everything set up and ready to go before the performers and promoters had entered the room. And even though neither of us came out with much to show monetarily, we knew we put on a great show that night. If it’s a bit cliché, we were paid in pride, proud to be the little show that could.

If you read the comments left on his Facebook page, you’ll note he was beyond well-liked. A fixture of downtown, he was a valuable contributor both as a musician and a DJ and really, just a wonderful dude. His was a face you were always happy to see, a conversation you were always happy to have and a DJ set you were always happy to hear.

And here’s the real secret—it’s people like Doug who have made downtown what it has become. He believed in the arts and the independent spirit. If none of the bars had ever opened between Fremont Street and Charleston Boulevard, Doug and those like him would have had their proverbial downtown somewhere else.

The ending of “No One Knows” features these lyrics: Heaven smiles above me/What a gift here below/But no one knows/The gift that you give to me/No one knows.

Thanks to Doug, a whole lot of us know a little more.