Southern Rock and Style
The co-founder and partner of trailblazing record company that launched southern rock to the world brings international flare to Georgia, and his Nordic Baroness wife, known as "Kiki", transformed the landscape of style from Europe to Macon, GA.
Frank Fenter was one of the legendary and colorful behind the scene founders of the now ubiquitous style of music known as Southern Rock.He co-founded Capricorn Records with Phil Walden and helped put great acts, such as the Allman Brothers, on the map. She was European nobility with a penchant for rock and roll. Together, Frank and Kiki Fenter transformed the town of Macon, Georgia, not only with the advent of Southern Rock, but also with the first European bistro in town. In 1969, when Frank Fenter told his wife, Baroness Ulla von Blixen-Finecke, that they were moving from London’s cosmopolitan West Kensington neighborhood to a small town called Macon, she was delighted.
“She said, ‘Lovely! I love France! Macôn, France. We’ll be on the Rhône, we’ll drink wine, it’ll be fantastic!’” recalls their son, Robin Duner-Fenter, with a laugh.
“It was a little bit of a shock for her to realize he meant Macon, Georgia.”
While the baroness, called “Kiki” by friends and family, might not have been able to find Macon, Ga., on a map back then, her husband, co-founder of and partner in Capricorn Records, would soon put the Southern town – along with the Allman Brothers Band, the Marshall Tucker Band and the “Southern rock” genre itself – on the map of music history.
“They expanded consciousness,” says Bobby Whitlock, who played with Eric Clapton in Derek and the Dominoes and lived in the Fenters’ guest house in Macon while working on his second album for Capricorn. He added, “Frank and Kiki were all about fashion, style, real class and abundance. They had this eclectic list of friends that didn’t stop at the music business – it included everybody from presidents to janitors. They were not snobs in any sense. She (Kiki) was so gracious, the consummate hostess.”
A September 1975 feature article on Capricorn Records in Fortune magazine called Frank “a promotional genius.” In the article, Frank said: “Who ever heard of two guys in Macon, a cracker and a South African, with a record company?”
The answer, today, is “just about everyone.” While Walden was often the face of the label and more widely recognized, Fenter finally got his due when he was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in October 2014. His friends, family, colleagues and former artists lauded the achievement as one that was a long time coming,with Atlantic Records and Rock N Roll Hall of Fame co-founder and Chairman, Ahmet Ertegun,commenting, “They (Frank and Phil) certainly created an important part of rock ’n’ roll history.” The same can be said for how Frank and Kiki created an important cultural shift for Macon.