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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Bill Perry, Blues Guitarist, Passes Suddenly

Very sad news. I just received this in an e-mail from Blind Pig Records:


With great sadness, Blind Pig Records announces that New York guitarist Bill Perry died on Tuesday, July 17th. According to Greg Schwark, Perry's road manager for seven years, the musician was found at his apartment in Sugar Loaf, NY. Emergency medical personnel tried to revive Perry, but he died on the way to the hospital, an apparent heart attack victim, although no official cause of death has been determined.

Perry was known as an outstanding guitarist whose go-for-broke technique combined effortless fluidity and incredible attack. Guitar One magazine called him a "six-string superman more powerful than a locomotive." He was also gifted with a distinctive, raspy voice full of grit and gravel that particularly suited the drama and emotion so essential to blues music.

Perry first made his mark in the clubs of New York City in the 1980's, where he was spotted by folk-rock singer Richie Havens. Perry spent four years on the road as the featured guitarist in Havens' band. During the same period, he also did some touring with The Band's Garth Hudson and Levon Helm. In 1995 he signed a deal with Pointblank/Virgin and released two albums for them. In 1999 he released a live album recorded at New York's blues hotspot, Manny's Car Wash. In 2001 Perry released the first of four titles for Blind Pig Records, with Jimmy Vivino, music director of "The Conan O'Brien Show" serving as producer on the first two CDs.

Good friend and labelmate Popa Chubby produced Perry's next two releases for Blind Pig, the most recent being 2006's Don't Know Nothin' About Love. Upon hearing the news while on tour in Germany, Popa said, "The best thing about Bill was that his talent was effortless. He was a natural. He could sing the phone book and draw you in. He didn't have a mean or a bad bone in him. I never heard him say a bad word about anyone. He was a brother and I'll miss him dearly."

Richie Havens issued a statement, saying, "I'm shocked and saddened to hear the news. Billy was a great friend, a truly gifted guitar player, and one of the funniest people I've ever known. Our times on the road together were some of best times I've ever had." Havens recorded a haunting acoustic duet version of the Rolling Stones' "No Expectations" with Perry that appeared on Bill's 2002 album Crazy Kind Of Life.

Buddy Fox, Perry's manager for four years and the long time booking agent for Manny's Car Wash, said, "Bill was a very singular and unique talent. He had a natural blues voice, and an uncanny ability to sing at the same time that he was playing a virtuoso guitar solo."

Blind Pig President Edward Chmelewski said, "We are indeed saddened by the loss of Bill and his incredible talent. His intensity on the guitar was frightening. He was a mesmerizing performer who played with passion and excitement, and he had that wonderful sandpapery voice that you could listen to forever. Truly a unique artist that will be missed."

Perry, age 49 at the time of his death, is survived by his only son, Aaron, 25, three brothers, and a sister. Details of a memorial and funeral have not been announced.


Anonymous said...

Debbie misses Billy's fast fingers and surely will miss what could have been. Finger pickin--blues--I'll miss the Green Van too. TRhanks Buddy for sharing. Love Debbie

Anonymous said...

Loved him at Manny's.