THALIA ZEDEK | THALIA ZEDEK BAND, COME, LIVE SKULL, UZI: For those of us who knew and loved Billy, this is a monumental loss. For those of you who didn’t know him, if you ever lived in Boston and loved music or film or theater or art, he touched your life in ways you never knew.
Billy was hugely supportive of me and my music and various bands over the years. He gave Come our first-ever show at the Middle East, and I think he saw me in every band that I was ever in. He was one of the first people I met in the Boston music scene when I moved here in 1979. I met him at a Steve Stain concert at a loft on Thayer Street. I had just joined my first “real” band, White Women. I was 18 years old and he must have been 21. He had a crush on me and used to wait for me to get out of work at Newbury Comics in Harvard Square so we could get drinks together. Eventually, I was able to convince him that the chances of us being romantically involved were nil; we drank and laughed about it and have — had — remained firm friends ever since.
He was an absolute fixture at every cool show or club: Cantones, Chet’s, the Space, Thayer Street, the Underground, Streets. And the amazing thing about him is that his enthusiasm never waned as he got older, it just expanded into more and more different types of music, food, movies, books, and lately, for some strange reason, television shows! I really loved the guy, he turned me on to so much stuff, musical and non-musical, right up until the end. He was the explorer, the scout, the one who took the risks and then came back and brought the rest of us along to whatever beautiful place he had discovered. He was one of the most generous people I have ever known and he taught me and broadened my musical horizons immensely.
RYAN WALSH | HALLELUJAH THE HILLS: He tracked my band down to a bar patio in Knoxville, Tennessee. He called the club’s land line to ask me to play a show because “it couldn’t wait.” I felt like I had just met Hunter S. Thompson’s New England cousin. He used to call me at work sometimes (no idea how he got the number) and talk for, like, an hour at a time. And it was always great. I never would initiate the end of the call. If he wanted to tell me more I always let him. If he couldn’t attend one of our shows (sometimes it was for really weird reasons, like he heard rumors that someone he had a beef with would be in attendance), he would send a videographer so he could enjoy the show later at home. He picked up a round of drinks at the MFA Drug Rug show this past summer, asked me to play his birthday show on November 10, and now he’s gone.