The musician accused of being an imposter at the Butte-Silver Bow County Fair by claiming to be playing as Redbone says he did nothing wrong.

Denny Freeman is accused of misleading the fair by claiming to be a founding member of the 1970s band Redbone. The fair board has since filed a complaint against Freeman, alleging that he lied about his affiliation with Redbone.

Though Freeman claims he’s innocent, he said he would be willing to pay back all the money the board paid him for performing at the fair.

“I’m willing to give back their money, every dime, just to put this thing to rest,” Freeman said when interviewed by telephone from his home in Utah Tuesday.

The fair board intended to hire Redbone for $6,500 to play three shows Aug. 3-5. Fair officials dealt with Freeman, who claimed to be a co-founding member of Redbone.

When fair officials discovered Freeman wasn’t a founding member of Redbone, Dave Palmer, fair board chairman, said they filed a police report and spoke with the county attorney’s office. He said the county attorney’s office may consider filing a criminal charge against Freeman.

Palmer said he would be interested in speaking with Freeman if he’s willing to pay back the money.

Freeman claims he entered “a contract” with two former members of Redbone in the mid-1980s to reunite the band. They never reunited the band, but Freeman said he has permission to play under the Redbone name.

Redbone’s manager, Ron Kurtz, says Freeman is full of baloney.

“What ever he says, it’s a complete fraud,” Kurtz said when reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.

Pat Vegas, who co-founded Redbone with his bother, Lolly, said last week he’s never met Freeman and Freeman was never a member of the band.

Kurtz said the “real Redbone” was playing in Wisconsin at the time of the Butte-Silver Bow County Fair. He says Freeman is committing “professional identity theft” by touring as Redbone.

Kurtz, who has been in the music business for 40 years, said older bands are more susceptible to becoming victims of this form of so-called identity theft.

“They take four guys from the car wash who can sing and call them the Drifters,” he said.

During the county fair performance, only Freeman and another band member showed up to play. Freeman allegedly claimed the rest of the band couldn’t make it because they had the “mumps,” Palmer said. Local musicians filled in for the missing band members.

Freeman said he was the one who contacted the fair board about playing the event.

— Reporter John Grant Emeigh may be reached via e-mail at john.emeigh@lee.net or by telephone, 496-5511.

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