Thursday, December 10, 2009

John Storm Roberts - gone now, but his impact carries on

The pithy, witty and acerbic John Storm Roberts has passed on. He died on November 29, but I just read about it in the NY Times today.

His 1972 book, Black Music of Two Worlds, was essential reading for anyone into the connections between Africa and the Americas, in jazz, blues, folk and what is now the ubiquitous 'world music'. His retail company and record label, Original Music (which folded many years ago) was a sacred place for me, and I made the pilgrimage a number of times, as well as writing many checks to his mail order address. His choices were impeccable and his taste was wide-ranging and often surprising.

I had many a long and winding conversation with him, usually on the phone, and usually with my finally fading from exhaustion as I tried to keep up with his knowledge, his crankiness and his sense of humor. I miss those the most.

cliff furnald

1 comment:

Spinning said...

Cliff.... I share your feelings, more than you might know.

I did copywriting for the OM catalog in the mid-90s, and John was a huge help to me in so many ways. (Includes learning how to edit my own work and write succinct copy for publication.)

I never saw him as being particularly cranky, though we did have some pretty amazing (and silly) arguments that make me smile now...

Most of all, he was my friend, and I miss him terribly.

- ellen