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Beat Farmer and Music Columnist Buddy Blue, Dead at 48

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There are some local music names that are known the world over. One of those names is Buddy Blue. Sadly, I must tell you that Buddy is no longer with us.

On the afternoon of April 2, 2006, Buddy died of a heart attack. He had a history of heart trouble, but this news has still come as a shock to our community. As news trickles out to the global music community, you can bet that many will come forward with stories about a man who could be both the life of the party as well as quite introverted.

He was probably best-known for his time spent with the Beat Farmers, but that wasn’t the only aspect of his music career. Far from it. Whether you experienced the Rockin’ Roulettes, the Jacks, the Flying Putos, the Farmers (Beat Farmers revival, of sorts), the Buddy Blue Band, or his contributions on albums from Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (seriously!), a Tom Waits project (where he played guitar behind Floyd Dixon), the Rugburns (Morning Wood, on which Buddy played guitar, sang background vocals, and produced), Earl Thomas, Mike Keneally, Billy Bacon and the Forbidden Pigs, among others, Buddy was everywhere and able to do just about anything. Radio, TV, film – he made his mark there, too.

BuddyBuddy began his real music career in San Diego with Texan-turned-San Diegan bluesman Tomcat Courtney. It was with Tomcat that he learned to play slide guitar and, according to his website, “fry catfish and dislike white people.”

For a young man who’d appeared in Fiddler on the Roof, the blues might have seemed like a strange passion. But the blues were a part of every fiber of his being. Signs of the blues were evident in his music, regardless of whatever else you heard in a particular song. And it was the blues where he was particularly well-schooled. Local talent buyers sought his opinion when obscure acts were headed in this direction. One word from Buddy was all that was needed for the act to be booked. One column on an artist was enough to draw in the masses.

The last time I saw Buddy was at a concert at Acoustic Music San Diego, a small but mighty presence in the local music community. Carey Driscoll, the man behind the vision, occasionally sought Buddy’s input. And, it always proved accurate.

There is no doubt in my mind that Buddy’s death will have a huge impact on the music community. His columns for the San Diego Union-Tribune were pure gold. They were, quite simply, the best. Who else could combine high-brow music lingo with down-home charm, add a generous dollop of heart and wit, and a heaping teaspoon of curmudgeonly wisdom to create something so readable or enjoyable? That was 100% Buddy.

Buddy BlueI regret not having many heartwarming personal tales of him to share. Our emails and the occasional phone calls over this past year were often silly, sometimes serious, and always insightful. I will miss that connection more than I can say. And, I’ll never be able to tell him he was wrong about “Gun Sale At The Church”, which he claimed was horribly produced on the Beat Farmers’ Van Go album. Considering how many folks I know who cite this as one of their favorite songs, especially for road trips, the production didn’t seem to matter because the material stood on its own.

I’ll never be able to tell him my Country Dick Montana story, that could well have been our first personal encounter. For whatever reason, our emails had nothing to do with the Beat Farmers. I don’t know how, but we’d start off on one train of thought and then he’d distract me with a story or some sort of music trivia. One email from him would send me off on a search of “Holy Grail!” proportions. And for that, and much more, I am truly grateful.

Buddy Blue, you will be missed.
December 30, 1957 – April 2, 2006

Update: The San Diego Union-Tribune has an obituary for Buddy with more information.

(Photos of Buddy Blue were obtained from his website.)

About Joan Hunt

  • Vern Halen

    I’ll have to dig out their albums again – their sense of humor sometimes made you forget that as players go, they really were quite a good band.

    Goodbye, BB – see you on the Big Rock Candy Mountain.

  • http://howardowens.com Howard Owens

    Thank you for the post. Buddy was a friend and somebody I admired for many years. We’ve had some spirited debates about music, but you could never really argue with Buddy. His opinions were rock solid, even if you wished they weren’t so. He was a smart man about music, and it showed in the quality of his songwriting across the years and across genres. He was one of a kind. A friend, a former bassist with his band, called me less than a half our ago. This is very sad news.

  • http://blogcritics.org Joanie

    Howard, I’m really sorry for your loss. I hope you know that Buddy’s light will continue to shine because of friends like you.

  • http://www.louielouie.net/blog/ E.P.

    Thank you for writing about Buddy Blue. This is very sad news. I just did a quick posting about his death on my own LOUIE REPORT blog, and a link to this very website.

    A big cheers for Buddy Blue for being Buddy Blue!

    cheers,

    ERIC PREDOEHL
    http://www.louielouie.net/

  • http://gohah.blogspot.com Gordon Hauptfleisch

    Very sad and shocking news indeed. I’ll remember Buddy Blue not only for his music but also for the refreshingly cranky music column he wrote for the San Diego Union Tribune. He will certainly be missed.

  • http://www.howardowens.com Howard Owens

    I was surprised to find this is the only thing I ever wrote, apparently, about Buddy on Blogcritics.

    Interestingly, because I knew Buddy could get a bit sensitive at times, I was nervous about publishing this review, but also felt that Buddy would always respect honesty. And he did. He told me after the review appeared, he wasn’t entirely satisified with the CD either.

    There have been few in the music industry who had the integrity Buddy did, which is of course why he wasn’t better known. His integrity made him largely untouchable to bigger record labels. The music industry long ago forgot how to handle musicians of true grit and honesty.

  • http://www.howardowens.com Howard Owens

    I should add — this profile/obit of Country Dick Montana might be of interest to fans of the Beat Farmers and Buddy. Buddy is quoted quite a bit in the article.

  • http://blogcritics.org Joanie

    Howard, you know what’s weird? When I was writing up my Country Dick Montana story a couple years ago (not appearing on BC yet), I cited your article. And my piece on CDM led many friends into long discussions on Buddy.

    One could say the circle remains unbroken.

  • http://howardowens.com Howard Owens

    Thanks, Joanie. I’d like to read your piece.

    Here’s the LAT Obit. Dude got it wrong though — the Beat Farmers played their first shows at the Spring Valley Inn, not in El Centro.

  • http://blogcritics.org Joanie

    Yeah, I saw the LAT obit and all the others out there. Talk about lack of originality! But then again, it’s a cookie cutter syndicated bitch of a world, ain’t it?

    Keep an eye open for an email from me, Howard. That is, of course, if I can find your email on your website.

  • “Crazy Ken”

    One time I won an ant farm from Buddy Blue..I won that ant farm because I agreed to be the first person to come up on stage and allow a beer to be poured on my head…For years, that ant farm was a much sought after item. I only wish that I now had a beer that I could pour over Buddy Blue’s grave…Postscript “Crazy Ken”-one of Spring Valley’s finest…

  • http://blogcritics.org Joanie

    You’re obviously one of the special, Crazy Ken. Hold those memories close and if I ever end up running into you at a bar, I promise to buy you a beer…but I’ll only pour it over your head if you ask nicely.

  • http://myspace.com/kingtrickii King Trick

    I was trying to locate the man that wrote the best article on me that has been written to date , because their is a documentary being done on me and then i am starring in a feature film, so that is how I found out that i had lost a friend, almost a year and a half earlier.. he predicted this success and I wanted to share it with him, as it happens!
    Many Blessings to all that read this !!!