Monday, June 07, 2004

Robert Quine 1942-2004

Guitarist Robert Quine, 61, has died, possibly of a heroin overdose. What a loss. The guy was an amazing guitar player. He made a name for himself with Richard Hell & the Voidoids and went on to revive Lou Reed's career with The Blue Mask. He played punk music, but he was a guitar god. His sound was distinctive and aggressive and he played like few before him (or after him for that matter). I was always excited to hear him on an album. This really is a tragedy. He had already done great work, but nothing would have stopped him from doing more if he had lived.
There are comments on his death here, here and people are talking about it on the I Love Music board. I'll add more as I find it.
Here's a bit on Quine from Victor Bockris' book "Transformer":

The purest of musicians with the highest of standards, Quine let his music speak for him. As soon as he played a single, inimitable note on his guitar, there was no question that Mr. Quine was in control. If an artist's work can be judged by how quickly it is recognized, then Bob Quine was on eof the all-time greats. By 1977, his playing was so inspired he had developed a cult following.

Bockris' book makes it clear that Quine not only aided Lou Reed on his album, but basically revived Reed's confidence in himself and set him back on the road to greatness.
Bockris also quotes New York Times music critic Robert Palmer:
Robert Quine's solos were like explosions of shredding metal and were over in thirty seconds or so.

And here is Lester Bangs on Quine:
Someday Quine will be recognized for the pivotal figure that he is on his instrument -- he is the first guitarist to take the breakthroughs of early Lou Reed and James Williamson and work through them to a new, individual vocabulary, driven into odd places by obsessive attention to "On the Corner"-era Miles Davis. Of course, I'm prejudiced, because he played on my record as well, but he is one of the few guitarists I know who can handle the supertechnology that is threatening to swallow players and instruments whole -- "You gotta hear this new box I got," is how he'll usually preface his latest discovery, "it creates the most offensive noise ..." -- without losing contact with his musical emotions in the process. Onstage he projects the cool remote stance learned from his jazz mentors -- shades, beard, expressionless face, bald head, old sportcoat -- but his solos always burn, the more so because there is always something constricted in them, pent up, waiting to be released.

UPDATE: Here's the New York Times obituary. Now they're saying it might have been suicide. Quine had been despondent over the loss of his wife in August. Also, Lou Reed has made a statement about Quine's death:
"Robert Quine was a magnificent guitar player -- an original and innovative tyro of the vintage beast," Reed said in a statement released to "He was an extraordinary mixture of taste, intelligence and rock'n'roll abilities coupled with major technique and a scholar's memory for every decent guitar lick ever played under the musical son. He made tapes for me for which I am eternally grateful -- tapes of the juiciest parts of solos from players long gone. Quine was smarter than them all. And the proof is in the recordings, some of which happily are mine. If you can find more interesting sounds and musical clusters than Quine on 'Waves of Fear' (from Reed's 1982 album "The Blue Mask"), well, it's probably something else by Robert."

There's some comments and a few more details at Richard Hell's site.
And finally, here's an interview with Quine from 1997 that goes over his whole career and from the same site, here's a list of Quine's favorite music.

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