ALY SPALTRO | LADY LAMB THE BEEKEEPER: I feel so happy that I let him into my life. He just appeared: he came to a show I did at Mass Art two years ago and he introduced himself to me as my biggest fan. I’d never seen him in my life and was initially startled by him. But I got to know him and I’m so glad I did because he was a brilliant, extraordinary man. The night before he passed away, he called me and he said that he would go so far as to say that he was a bigger fan of Lady Lamb than my own mother. Which is true — he laughed it off and said, “Ha, I’m only joking” — but he taught me to hear music in a new way. He would come to my shows and he would bring me five CDs, and sure enough when I got back to Maine, I’d have an e-mail in my inbox asking me how I felt about the music. It was his biggest passion, and he shared so much good music with me. I played a headlining show on Tuesday night at T.T. the Bear’s, the night he passed, and I swear to god I felt him in that room, and I loved him dearly. The last time I ever heard his voice was on my answering machine, the night before he passed away, on Monday night, the 25th. And in that message he thanked me for the song “Baby Beluga” — he found me at a time when he was grieving the passing of his friend Sidney. I wrote that song three years ago on my bed, I never wrote down a single lyric, it just kind of happened. And I looked back at the song and was always confused by it because I didn’t know who it was about or why it had been written. But I know exactly why it was written: it was written for Billy Ruane, and every line in that song is for him. The end of the song says, “How I long to sing you to sleep.” I feel so honored to have been in Cambridge the night he passed away, on that stage, singing that song to him.
Adapted from an interview on WFNX’s “Boston Accents,” Sundays at 8 pm
STEPHIN MERRITT | MAGNETIC FIELDS, FUTURE BIBLE HEROES, GOTHIC ARCHIES, 6THS, THE THREE TERRORS: It's like the death of the “s” in Boston, Massachusetts.
BRIAN COLEMAN | CHECK THE TECHNIQUE: LINER NOTES FOR HIP-HOP JUNKIES: Here’s a good Billy story, which I think shows both his endless generosity and also how much he worshipped musicians. He thought of them as gods, really, whether it was a scruffy solo rock act or an elegant jazz orchestra. Back in the ’90s, Billy booked a couple shows at the Middle East Downstairs: avant-garde jazz shows that, honestly, were probably too small, audience-wise, for such a large space. But he wanted to make sure they weren’t delegated to the smaller Upstairs, out of principle. One of the shows was Sam Rivers (I think his trio), and I was helping Billy promote it. As many people know, “programming” (not just booking) a bill was crucial to him and he wanted to add another top-level group to the lineup. At one point he called legendary saxophonist David Murray to see if he could be part of it. (This, of course, led to many lengthy phone discussions about other artists we could add. Billy agonized over all of these decisions.)