Robert Quine in headphones

Robert Quine

1942 - 2004

Please email stories and reminiscences; they will be added to commemorate Robert Quine's career.

I just wanted to say a few things. First, thanks for the Web site. Second, yesterday I was remembering one of my dreams, just because these things come when you don't even imagine them. I was a teen the first time I saw Quine. I was in the house of a friend of mine, watching a video of Lou Reed, some concert. My friend told me, pay attention to the guy with sunglasses. I did, and after that moment I couldn't forget him anymore. I started to look for information about him. I listened to Hell, Reed, Waits - any song where he was playing, and it just came to my mind, as a dream, I said to myself: I'd like to know this man, just to say hello to him, just to listen him playing live. Just to play a song with him, but I guess it was too much. I felt something from him that still today I can't explain and I still feel. Neither can I explain the anguish I have today, after seeing the web site, and to know that he is not longer with us. For this I just have silence, and it's not a selfish feeling I have because I couldn't make my dream true; it is for all those who didn't know him, who didn't know that it was he, Robert, who was playing guitar behind many extraordinary musicians. My friends and I called him el pelado, very tenderly, as if he was an old friend of ours. He was the charismatic man that we were looking to find on a new album of some artist to hear his guitar. I'm very sad today. I just had to tell you this. Thanks again for creating this place where Robert will always be among us. By the way, I couldn't tell you which is my favorite piece of his guitar playing, but what I listen to most often is "Blind Love" by Tom Waits. Thanks, Henry

I was also at that Grand Rapids gig mentioned on your site, but the date was October or November '84, and Lou was out promoting New Sensations... "I Love You Suzanne" had been a big hit that summer, so it was all over the radio like the proverbial cheap suit. I, too, remember being surprised and excited about seeing Lou in such an unlikely place - knowing I'd get to see Quine sealed the deal. As I recall, it was a midweek/school night - I'd transferred to Michigan State - but how could I pass up the chance, especially when I was only 90 minutes away? My friend Don and myself duly made the trip, while several of my fellow record geeks traveled separately. They were in the front rows, while Don and I had balcony seats. Fountain Street Church was indeed a beauitful Gothic structure, right in downtown Grand Rapids: we couldn't believe our luck at seeing Lou in this intimate setting, instead of the mammoth enormodomes a hit record might have demanded. Most folks hung out in the lobby while the support band (Swimming Pool Q's) played: naturally, there was this mad stampede when Lou and company took the stage. I'd made Lou's music (Velvets and solo) a big part of my high school years - but hearing Quine's strangled, angular brilliance put all those memories in a totally different context. Quine's feelings about that tour are pretty well-documented, but I do recall one moment that contradicts them. Just as the band was primed to do "Martial Law," they had to stop - because Lou suddenly turned to see Quine fiddling around with his amp. Quoth Lou: "As soon as Quine is ready, we will break into song." I swear that a wry grin crossed Quine's face: "Sure, try it without me! See how far it gets you!" What made Quine's playing unique was his ability to meld all those disparate influences - Jimmy Reed, free jazz, and the rock 'n' roll of his formative years - into something that sounded like nobody else. He could play as rootsy or noisy as the mood - or song - demanded, and make it work every time. This is no small point: then and now, most guitarists don't bother to delve too far back; they just go with the flow of whatever's happening because they've gotta eat, don't know themselves, or half the audience won't know, nor care... sad, but true. I hope the career retrospective comes off, so more people realize what made Quine special. Needless to say, I left that night with a totally different idea of what music was about. That was the beauty of Quine's style: it always followed its own logic. You either bought into it, or didn't - and once you've seen somebody with those qualities, you don't ever forget it. Enough said! —Ralph Heibutzki

Thanks for the excellent Quine page. I discovered your page a few months before he passed and I remembered how much I had been influenced by Quine interviews, almost more than the music. —Larry Marotta

I just wanted to pass on my condolences to the Quine family and those who knew Robert. He fills a role of 'guitar hero' for me - I don't know what he would have thought about that! I don't even know a great deal about him, but I have consistently considered him one of my favourite musicians. Shortly after I started playing guitar, the Matthew Sweet album Altered Beast came out. His playing on that has slowly filtered into my style. At least I hope it has! His touch and timing seemed to be unique. I rave about him to anyone if we're talking guitarists - they invariably don't have a clue who he is! I guess the whole 'balding accountant/guitar maniac' thing is pretty cool, too; but it's the music that will last - he made so many things sound great. What a guy. Rest in peace, Robert Quine. —Matthew Douglas

Quine and I were the closest of friends for 35 years, ever since we met at Washington U Law School until his death. My wife spoke with him a few weeks before his death to invite him to my surprise 60th birthday party in Berkeley, California in June. He indicated that he was seriously considering coming; the next thing we knew, he was dead. I'm a guitar player, and Quine and I formed a band called "Bruce's Farm" in St. Louis. I could tell a million stories about our adventures in the band, and in law school, but the bottom line is that we had very similar musical tastes and fed off each other while fending off the horrors of law school during the Viet Nam years. I'm a fairly conventional player, who's capable of doing "happy hour" material, while Quine was strictly a rocker in his playing (although he knew more about jazz than anyone I've known). A mutual friend of ours once said that he thought I was a "better" player, but he'd rather hear Quine play anytime. I knew exactly what he meant and wasn't offended in the least. Quine had a unique style that although not technically adept, was somehow a synthesis of all he'd picked up from Miles, Bill Evans, Fats Navarro and countless others. He could not get past the death of his dear wife Alice, and although I tried to keep his spirits up as we spoke on the phone every few weeks or so, I suspected that the end was not far off. And though I miss him terribly, I am happy in the knowledge that, in the end, Quine succeeded beyond all expectation. I attended the Velvet Underground concert with him in St. Louis (captured in The Quine Tapes) in the late 60s, and we never dreamed that someday he'd be on stage playing with Lou Reed. Nor that he would be named the 80th best guitar player in the history of rock 'n' roll by Rolling Stone. Anyone reading this is probably aware of the other milestones in his career and the esteem in which he was held by the music community. He got to where he wanted to be, and I'm thankful for that. I just can't get used to the idea that he won't be calling to tell me about his latest musical discovery (or disaster). But that's my problem. —Barry Silverblatt; Berkeley, California

I don't watch mainstream media so I'm sorry about sending this belated email regarding Robert's passing. I was just notified by my wife reading the obit from and old time magazine from the library swap table! Anyway, I felt compelled to pass on our experiences with Robert. Back in 1983, my girlfriend (and wife-to-be) and myself had the great pleasure of seeing Robert perform with Lou Reed on the Legendary Hearts tour in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Truth be told, We were there to see Robert. We had followed his career for years and couldn't believe the great fortune in having him fall in our laps, so to speak, in this little backwater town. For once, we didn't have to drive to Detroit or Chicago to see a musician of this caliber! For months we had been building up this must-see event to our friends as the Robert Quine band (with Lou Reed). We got front row seats in the most unlikely venue for a show; the gothic Fountain Street Methodist Church. It was truly amazing to see the passion and feeling being displayed by Robert being only 10 feet away from us for the entire evening. Near the end of the show, Lou introduced everyone in the band and when he finally got to Robert, My girlfriend and I both spontaneously jumped up and gave him a standing ovation. Since we were in the front row, directly in front of him and being the only 2 people in the church that did so, Robert was quite startled and cracked a big smile at both of us. We were happy that he could see two people that very much appreciated his creative brilliance. Our prayers go out to the Quine family - may you all find peace at some point in the future. Robert was a special gift to the world. —Jack and Elaine Faulkner

I live in Australia, and I was well pleased when I found your site a while ago, and even more pleased that Mr. Quine indulged his fans with Q&A. I enjoyed reading it, and I loved reading his interviews that you linked to. I stopped by the site on Monday for the first time in a while, saw his years of birth and death below his name, and my blood ran cold. You handled his passing very gracefully, and I did some research on the Web and was (and am) distraught to find out what happened. I had no idea; his death never even made the news here, so six days ago was the first time I heard. It's devestating. I first heard Mr. Quine's name in the eighties, when a friend mentioned that he played the lead solo on "Sweet Jane" from Lou Reed's Retro LP (I have no idea if this is true or not). But then I heard his work on Girlfriend and subsequent Matthew Sweet LPs, an artist my friend was very much into, and then as my knowledge of rock music increased, I heard him on Lou Reed's work and then the Voidoids and various other LPs that he played on. His brilliant guitar playing was enough to hook me as an admirer of his skill, but when I read interviews and articles subsequently, and his intelligence, knowledge and wit shone through, I was extremely proud to call myself a Robert Quine fan. Unfortunately, in Australia, it's hard to find other people who have heard of him, but so be it. The circumstances of the tragedy of his passing, particularly in light of the loss of his wife earlier (I had no idea about any of this until his own death), horrifies me because of the pleasure he gave me (and, obviously, so many others) with his conversation and his playing. It's bad enough when you lose your heroes, but the way I found out, and the fact it was so long after his death, makes me feel worse. I found out too late to even join in the memorial activities, so this weekend I'm going to light a belated candle, have a Jim Beam Black Label (his pick in the I-94 interview) and watch him in action on the A Night With Lou Reed DVD. Steve, you did Mr. Quine such a great service with your site; it reflected what my perception of his personality was, informative, honest, functional, and understated. Without it, who would have known what he was up to? I appreciate your hosting and linking to the tributes which soften the blow. It's nice to know that he had such an effect on so many other people, when my own circle of friends are not familiar with him and cannot share my grief. The photos of the memorial, too, were terrific; I'm so pleased there was a memorial there. Your site will continue to be an invaluable resource as his legend inevitably grows after his passing, and I will continue to be a frequent visitor. Thanks for all your work, and all the very best for the future. —Paul Golobocov

We will never forget this guy. —Syd, Motosierra

Mr. Quine is easily one of the most overlooked and underrated guitar players of all time. I was deeply saddened by his untimely demise; I live about 2 hours from NYC and I am fortunate enough to visit NYC six or seven times per year, so I am familiar with the Quine haunts. I bought my first Kellycaster (a Telecaster-type guitar) from Rick at Carmine Street Guitars, and I have had the honor of speaking with Michael Carlucci about Quine, about Lou Reed, and about the Velvets at Subterrenean Records on Cornelia Street. It was really a privilege for me because Quine was a regular at both establishments, and I always hoped that I would one day run into him so I could thank him for the magic that he created on the great The Blue Mask and Blank Generation LPs - and for turning me into an axe-nerd. I have been a Lou Reed freak since I was 14, and one of my first records was The Blue Mask. I was blown away by the solos on "Women", "Average Guy", and especially, "Waves Of Fear". I knew it wasn't Lou - if I hear 1000 guitars playing at the same time, I can always pick out Lou (the same is true of Quine) - and I wondered who was the insane, albeit stunningly brilliant, guitar sidekick responsible for this hybrid of beauty and rage. It was Quine, of course, and I had to find more records of his playing; as influential as Lou was, Quine was really responsible for sending me over the edge and entering a love affair with the Fender Telecaster - my new rig. I went out and bought Blank Generation. Fell in love with Quine's solos on "Betrayal Takes Two", "Liars Beware", "Love Comes In Spurts", and the pretty rockabilly on "The Plan". My favorite Quine solo is a tie between the solos from "Time" found on the recently released Time anthology by Richard Hell, and the solo on "Satellite Of Love" from the DVD A Night With Lou Reed. —T.D. Thimis

I am very sorry to hear about Robert Quine passing.... —Vivienne Dick

In England we have a Lottery which we all play in the vain hope of getting rich. When - every few months - I fantasize about winning it, I always imagine what I'll do first. Not buy a big house, or have a big holiday, but set up a record label, fly to NY, find Robert Quine, and say "make a record, please". Now, as I belatedly find out the news, I know I never will. But somebody ought to try. Not compiling the well-known Reed/Sweet/Cole stuff, but intelliegently treasuring maybe live, demo, rare, unreleased stuff. Because just ahead of Verlaine, and therefore miles ahead of every other guitarist ever, Quine is the man. Listen to the fade-out choking sobs of guitar on Sweet's "You Don't Love Me" and then the virginal purity of the Live In Italy solo on "Satellite of Love", and then the best bit of guitar 'playing' ever - the moment of inexplicable yet utterly perfect silence right in the heart of the squealing scream of a solo in the Bottom Line "Waves of Fear", and tell me who can do more, say more, feel more, make you feel more... the answer is no one. So someone over there (i.e. USA/Japan) with money (Lou?), do the decent thing, and give this man the tribute he deserves. Thanks. —Stephen, England.

During the 1980s and early 90s I was involved in an independent record label in England, called Lazy. If remembered at all, it is as the label that The Primitives started on. After they signed ot RCA we then started working with other bands. First of all Birdland, a Patti Smith/Bunnymen type thing, then I listened to a demo by See See Rider. We released a single and the people who did the video knew Lloyd Cole. He was doing a tour of theatres, Hammersmith Odeon, etc. in England and decided he wanted SSR to support. At the time they were playing very small venues. I was tour manager but missed the first date because I had to finish a tour with Birdland. When I joined SSR Stephen and Tracy from the band told me that Robert Quine was playing guitar with Lloyd Cole. We used to stand at the left hand side of the satge during the tour in order to listen to him. His amp had what seemed like a 3 sided box in front of it that reflected the sound back to the mic behind, or it could have been facing backwards, and we were in a priveleged position. It sounded so beautiful. We knew of him from the Voidoids, Lou Reed and had gone on from that to learn about Coltrane, etc. The whole of Lloyd's group and he himself were friendly and helpful to us but I was too in awe to approach Robert. I saw him around venues, and at one point he mentioned visitng places in 1977. I waited until the last night of the tour, in Birmingham, before I asked him to autograph my bootleg 7" single of The Voidoids doing "I Wanna Be Your Dog". He looked surprised and asked me where I had got it from. It's downstairs with my records and I'm going to go and play it after finishing this. I have started to cry because I only found out he died when I logged into your webised, via one on Ralph Carney. He played some of the most beautiful guitar I ever hope to hear in my life and.... Sorry I have to stop now as I can't stop crying and have become incoherent. Hope I don't regret sending this later. —Tony

I'm a Japanese fan of Mr. Quine. Although I never saw him play live on stage, I met him a few times. To my surprise, these meetings just "happened". The first time was at Matt Umanov Guitars, when I was in NYC on vacation at the end of 1995. When I found him trying an Epiphone acoustic guitar, I was not sure at first that "he" was my long time guitar hero (at the time, he wasn't wearing his well-known sunglasses!). What confirmed that it was "him" was his way of doing hand vibrato on his guitar neck - exactly the same as I had seen so many times on Lou Reed's video! To my sudden offer of talking, he kindly had a brief chat with me, and when I asked him for some pictures together, he held my shoulder and said: "This way, it seems like we're good friends, and aren't we?" Leaving, I told him I was sorry for bothering him on his day off. He smiled and answered: "Oh, it's alright, it's very rare this kind of thing happens to me!" The last time I met him was at Subterranean Records, New Year's Eve or the day before (New Year's Eve is my birthday, and later I noticed that the day before - December 30 - was his!) of 2001, again while visiting NYC on vacation. To my surprise, he remembered my face and asked "Are you living in New York City? No? Japan? Oh, you're such a busy guy". I was so happy at that time. I found a record he played on there and asked him how it was. He answered: "Guitars are alright, because I played them all, but..." and shrugged his shoulders. In spite of his words, I decided on buying that one, and asked him to autograph it. He wrote: "Hello Hiro— Glad to see you again. This record is not so good! —Thanx, Robert Quine". My impression of him is an always tender and humorous person. That time was my first trip to NYC after 9/11. When I got off the subway at the West 4th Street station and looked south, there were no Twin Towers anymore - what had existed naturally for so many years was lost - I felt the sense of incongruity and loss so strong at that time. Now I'm feeling the same - I always thought that I'd see him again and again, every time I visit NYC and walk around the Village, and thought about what I'd like to talk to him about next.... Along with all his great music, I won't forget those private memories. For me, a "repeat NYC visitor", he was a part of that city. It's so huge a loss. Very sad. I pray for him and Alice, that they will meet somewhere above again. —Hiro Nishiyama, Japan

I was a law school classmate of Robert's (Washington University, 1968) and told people this story for years: We were Vietnam era law students, many of us probably more motivated in avoiding the draft than learning law. (It was about a year before the draft lottery.) There was one copying machine available for law school students, and, around finals time, usually a long line of worried students waiting to xerox notes from more diligent students. I recall Bob running up to the front of the line, a wild look on his face, a sheaf of papers in hand, saying he had to copy this stuff right away, could he please cut into line? He seemed stressed; the folks at the front of the line were sympathetic and let him in. He copied the papers, and, when someone asked him what class it was for, he smiled and said "Class? No man. It's music!" and left. One of my classmates graduated and opened a bar in San Francisco. I practiced law for about five years and went on to about a dozen different careers, none of which were law. Bob made music and got an obit in The New York Times. The rest of the class, from a photo I saw from a recent reunion which I didn't want to attend, looked like they were living "quiet lives of desperation". Long live Robert Quine! —Hap Freund; Santa Barbara, CA

Such a sad year for the loss of such leading beings in the world of art. Unfortunately it hit New York the hardest this year taking Spalding, Pedro Pietri and another ultimate inspirtation: Quine. Man, Robert touched so many people with what he expelled, mostly with musical inspiration, but the man inspired my poetry. Very rarely will you find that muse - that one musician who could stir your own words to such heights if only for 10 or 20 seconds. There's always a reverse button. And with a Quine solo it was pressed excessively. Quine's sound was the ultimate copper to carry the current of any poet's vision. He was beyond art. Beyond poetry. And I am very glad he is so loved. —Julian Stockdale; NY, NY

It is with great sadness that I hear of Robert Quine's passing. In the 80's I used to do public radio programs here in Adelaide, Australia and I often included Basic on my play list, "Blank Generation" (one of my favourite singles of all time), The Blue Mask and Live In Italy as well as the Material albums. I was fortunate to see him in this city when on tour with Mr. Reed and I count it as one of life's privileges to have heard him live. I'm sad there will never be another opportunity to hear him live in concert. I think I'll put Live in Italy on now.... Thanks for the memories. RIP. —Paul Weston.

I'm a Lou Reed fan. When it came time for me to purchase The Blue Mask from Subterranean Records and I was exposed to the subtle yet ultra-precise playing by Robert Quine on that album, I quickly became a Robert Quine fan. I then purchased the "Night With Lou Reed" DVD, recorded live from from The Bottom Line, February, '83. FINALLY... I got to witness the frantic solo taken by Robert at the end of "Waves Of Fear"... manic... tactile. There were many instances where I'd be visiting my good friend Michael Carlucci, proprietor of the beloved, aforementioned Subterranean Records in Greenwich Village. Oh, but how I always wanted to engage him in conversation regarding his years with Lou Reed. I never did. I gave him his space and observed him with excitement from afar. It was just one of those New York experiences that was too cool to ruin by blabbering in someone's ear for an hour, "Oh, Robert, tell me about each moment of the sessions in RCA studios...." I'm grateful to have been exposed to Robert as well as share the same space with him for all but a few moments. May he rest in peace and find true glory in the presence of our Lord. —Chris Bisciello, NYC

Bob Quine was a friend of mine - I'd known him from the time I was 16 years old. The last time I saw him was October/November. I invited him to our house for dinner after Alice's passing. I hadn't seen him for years before that - he explained why - it was very important to him. And suddenly that night all the years of not seeing him melted away - he was still Bob. Bob was such a sweet man and a lot of fun. He mixed me my first martini. Once I said I didn't know anyone at a party and Bob said sometimes a party could be the loneliest place you could be. And once I said I felt down and he said when you feel like that get busy. We made plans to get together - soon! - we talked on the phone - I thought I had all the time in the world. I wished I'd listened more to some things he'd said - could I have helped? That last night we shared some of our experiences. Bob said that he had felt the same way as I had - that sometimes when he'd go on tour, things seemed surreal and that my experiences in what I did were surreal as well. And yes, he was a great guitar player. I miss my friend. —Claudia Gammage

It goes without saying that Robert Quine had many followers over here in the UK, and he will be sadly missed. I have him to thank as an inspiration to me personally as a humble amateur guitarist, particularly his playing on Lloyd Cole's first solo album and accompanying UK TV appearances - nobody tortured a Strat like he did! My hearfelt condolences to his family and friends. —Steven Nicholls, England

Just wanted to say how much Robert will be missed in the guitar world. He gave the coolest interviews in guitar magazines, my favorite being the January 1986 Guitar Player piece. I'm just a guy from the suburbs so I always romanticized his wonderful "New York Intellectual" musician image as the highest form of American Cool. Brains and soul went together in his playing. R.I.P. —Tenfingersofdoom

I see a lot of people hone on Robert Quine's prickly side when remembering him, but my first encounter with the man was anything but tendentious. It was some time in late 1977. I was 18, had just started college, and was living in Lake Hopatcong in the middle of North Jersey. There was a club in nearby Dover called the Show Place (a strip joint by day, I believe) that hosted a lot of CBGB bands at the time - I imagine it was a pretty easy out-of-town gig, just 45 minutes or so out of the city. I was a gawky, geeky punk enthusiast cheering on the Voidoids. Afterwards, in a combination of sheer fanboy enthusiasm and a vague hope of getting something quotable for my college paper, I infiltrated the backstage area. I had long mistaken the lack of backstage security at such shows as a token that punk was about was a free, non-rock-star-oriented exchange of perspectives between audiences and musicians. What a naif. Anyway, to say Hell was less than enthusiastic about receiving me and my gushy questions was something of an understatement. Flanked by two bottle-blondes intent on other activities, he answered my earnest query "Why did you put a picture of Jean-Luc Godard on the inner sleeve collage on the album?" with "I dunno, man, I just think he's a cool guy." That was pretty much the highlight of the exchange. Quine was a wholly different story. Soft-spoken and kind, he entertained all my goofy queries with more than just bemused tolerance. I asked him about the Berklee School of Music ID on the aforementioned inner-sleeve collage (what was it with me and that inner-sleeve collage?) and he said the only thing he learned there was how to play guitar with his pinkie. I said that I had friends on their way to Berklee who all wanted to join Journey (this was back, some may recall, when Journey was an all-instrumental band) and he laughed and said when he was there the big ambition among students was to join the Tonight Show band. So it went. He hipped me to the two separate issuings of Coltrane's "Ascension," the early one being the big collector's item (both takes are now on one CD set of course) and other jazz obscurities. He was just unbelievably sweet, and it made my night. Years and years later, after I had crossed the geeky fan Rubicon and become a more-or-less full-fledged rock critic, I wrote a piece in the Village Voice titled "Quine-Ola," focusing on Quine's contributions to Matthew Sweet's Girlfriend and Lloyd Cole's Don't Get Weird On Me, Babe. Said piece ended with my assertion, "If Jeff Beck deserves his own box set, so does [Quine]." As it happens, a few weeks after it was published, I ran into Quine at a little gathering in honor of Nick Tosches' Dean Martin bio. The Quine/Tosches posse, such as it was, was in full effect (James Marshall was also in attendance), getting quietly buzzed on Genesee Cream Ale. I was reintroduced to Quine, who was over the moon about the piece. "Do you think you could find a place where you could do a regular column, just about me?" Now that he's gone, I think that the world could use that imaginary box set more than ever. —Glenn Kenny

I'm a guitarist playing in the band called Das Boot. I'm a very very big Robert Quine fan. I love very much his super cool guitar style. I love his work with the Voidoids, Lou Reed, Lloyd Cole, John Zorn, Tom Waits, Mathew Sweet, Wiseblood, James White & the Blacks, Micheal Maxwell, Sion, The Shams, They Might Be Giants, Marianne Faithfull, Dim Stars and Andre Williams! I'm so sad. Very very sad. May his soul rest in peace! —Tetsuya Hayakawa, Tokyo

As a young composer, I discovered Robert Quine's playing in a context very different than Richard Hell's band. I first heard him on various pieces by composer John Zorn - a couple of soundtracks (White & Lazy and The Golden Boat) and that wonderful arrangement of "Once Upon A Time In The West" on Zorn's The Big Gundown. Quine - along with Jody Harris, Bill Frisell, Arto Lindsay, and Marc Ribot - changed the way I heard the electric guitar in a composed context. It took years to find guitarists that I could work with who were familiar with the sound worlds these guitarists were dealing with and who could work within a composed structure. When I first heard these particular Zorn pieces, I was studying composition at a college in Columbus, Ohio. The guitarists I knew had very pretty "straight" jazz-like tones. No one sort of bridged the world of noise with the musicality of a "jazz" soloist. I hate to generalize and use words like "jazz" and "straight" - but it took traveling to New Orleans and eventually New York for me to find guitarists who could help me realize the sounds I was hearing in my head. I hope more people listen to those works by Zorn - they have a real spark to them and offer a wealth of ideas for the aspiring composer/arranger/musician. And Quine contributes several intense performances in a variety of styles. —Chris Becker

My introduction to Robert Quine was the Voidoids LP Blank Generation. You couldn't help but focus on the members of the group - they weren't the "normal" looking rock stars of the day. Especially Robert Quine. One evening in '77 as I walked down on the Bowery, I walked right into Robert. I stopped so as to tell him how much I loved his psychotic playing and how much it reminded me of early Jeff Beck. It struck a positive chord. Beck, Telecasters and the Velvet Underground would be three of our common links. Only it would be some 15 years later before we would speak again. He was to become one of my more frequent customers throughout our 13 years of business. Again, Beck, Telecasters and VU, only this time Robert would introduce me to a whole other world of obscure guitarists, including Pee Wee Crayton and Harvey Mandell - both of whom influenced him immensely. In the last five years, Robert was to become one of my best friends. I could tell him anything knowing that it would not go beyond these four walls and the same with him and his secrets. Another bond we shared were the women in our lives. He adored my wife as much as I adored his. Alice adored Robert. Alice and I shared a great many complaints about how unfair these so called "Guitar" magazines were, praising all of the Robert Quine wannabees but completely ignore Robert. That is, of course, until he passed away - now they all wanna know, too late. I think it was Richard Hell who once said, "Artists should be compensated now for the notoriety they'll attain once they're dead." Truer words were never spoken, for I can attest to that being as bombarded as I have been with phone calls from all sorts of journalists who somehow have found out about Robert hanging out here and at Carmine Street Guitars. I'm going to miss him walking down these stairs from Carmine Street. Whether it was to see if I needed anything, complain to me about someone or something, or just share a guitar/music story. I am sure that I will never meet another person like Robert again in my life. He was one of the most unique people I have ever met: smart, intuitive and overly sensitive. A lot of people had their opinions of Robert, I can agree with some of them, but not all of them. He was always especially generous with me. Sadly, when Alice passed away Robert would never be the same again. Since then, certain folks started to tarnish his name as being difficult throughout the circle of musicians. Others, so called "friends" he would co-hire for sessions, would settle for less money than he was willing to accept so as to get the gig over Robert. Alice and a few close friends were the only stabilities left in his life, those of us he knew he could trust, especially when the session work phone stopped ringing. Alice's departure ripped out his soul; she took a part of him with her. There was nothing I or anyone else could say to him that was going to change this. He spoke about her every day, and all we could do was listen. An alarm should have gone off once he stopped talking about her, but then we thought, perhaps he's getting better with the loss. He stopped coming around as much as he did. He claimed that he was putting the word out, that he was ready to work again, that he needed to start practicing again as he once did for six hours per day, so he couldn't be hanging out in guitar shops and record stores as he once did - it was time to get serious. Now I'm not so sure that this was his plan, perhaps this was his way of separating himself from those he loved, so as to make his departure that much less painful both for him and us. Only the impression he made on us all throughout the years would never make his departure that much less unpleasant no matter how infrequently we saw him. Finally, on Monday May 31st, early afternoon, I received a phone call from Robert reminding me to order that Jeff Beck CD Beck-Ola with the new bonus tracks (once again, one of our bonds). I told him, no problem, it'll be here Friday at the latest. But the Robert I knew would have started calling/stopping by on Wednesday to see if it had come in yet. No phone call, not even on Thursday or D-day, Friday. I knew something was up. Then someone else asked if we had seen or heard from him. No one had. We had all feared the worst, since this was not Robert's character at all. Someone we know would have seen or heard from him. A close friend of Robert's had the police break down his apartment door where they found our boy with a note that read "In Memory of Robert Quine Memorial Day 2004". A day well chosen, my friend, for who will ever forget that day with all the other veteran heroes? Robert was our guitar hero. He will always be my hero for sticking to his roots and his beliefs. For Robert dressed (white shirt, black jeans and jacket) and played (psychotic) exactly the same as he did when I first met him in '77. I don't know many other people who could say that. Robert, this Beck-Ola CD which has arrived is played in memory of you. Only now I have no one to share the psychotic Beck riffs/solos with. These are but some of the many memories I have of Robert Quine. Because of knowing him as I did, my life will never be the same, nor would I have it any other way. Thank you, Robert, for being a friend. —Michael Carlucci; Subterranean Records, NYC

Very sad news. My first exposure to Quine's work was Matthew Sweet's track "Girlfriend" - I couldn't believe what I was hearing at first listen. His lead guitar is a leaping, flaming thread running through the song, and I've never heard anything like it before or since. His solos pull you all over the place in a perfect way, and are so powerful and integrated at the same time. Even more than ten years later, whenever I hear the guitar on "Girlfriend", I'm riveted. Thanks, Adam

Just heard the sad news - used to bump into Robert at the NYC guitar shops: for him, a daily migration from shop to shop - 48th street and Carmine/Bleecker. He mentioned that he was still practicing multiple hours a day. Broke the ice in a Chinatown (Big Wong) take out line, trading Lou Reed stories. Robert was a soulful player and gentleman. He will be sadly missed - so much more music in him. —Chuck Hammer, Guitarchitecture

"I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor." —Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862, American Essayist, Poet & Naturalist)
On Sunday as I was reading the Boston Globe I was shocked to see the terrible news of Robert's death. My 11 year old son was sitting with me waiting for his baseball practice when I read the news and as I gasped he asked me what was wrong. I explained that one of my heroes had passed away and it caught me by surprise. As he questioned me further I described the first time that I had witnessed Robert's unique blend of passion and taste at a Lou Reed concert in the early 80s and how that had sparked my interest in his overall work, especially with the Voidoids. At that point my son said that he could play the opening chords of "Blank Generation" on the acoustic guitar that he had received for his birthday six months ago. To be honest, I smiled and nodded knowing that the White Stripes and Nirvana were his favorites and that remembering the chords to a song that he had heard in passing a few times at best was a remote possibility. When we returned home that evening my son immediately grabbed his guitar and proceeded to play the opening to "Blank Generation" as if he had been practicing it for weeks. It was then that I realized that the spirit and unique musicianship of Robert Quine was not lost and I promised myself to expose him to as much of Robert's music as I could, from Matthew Sweet to Lou Reed to the Voidoids and everything in between. Who knows, maybe someday people will ask "Wow, how did such a brilliant guitarist come out of New Hampshire?" as thay did when Robert came up from Ohio. Thanks, Bill Norton

We were all very fortunate to have Bob enter our lives to whatever extent he did - a gift even just to have come into contact with an artist of that magnitude.... Many things could be said. —Michael DuClos

I am a Robert Quine fan from Japan. Lou Reed's video A Night With Lou Reed is where I heard him for the first time. Although it is sad, I will continue to listen to Robert's music: Lou Reed, Tom Waits, Matthew Sweet, Richard Hell, etc. —Y. Wakisaka

I feel this sadness today, so sad. We love this one and only crazy guitar player. R.I.P. from Japan. —Katsuyoshi Hashiguchi

I got the sad message about Robert's death while in the Alps, and I listened to the music of Valdun, and I thought of him, wishing that he is in a better place now and together again with his wife Alice. I remember Robert saying: "Valdun takes away my headache" and that even his mother liked the music on the Rumantsch album. He came back to my mind with the strong music he played and his friendly way of giving me compliments about my singing and the great support of his music in NYC. It is a gift that I met him, a gift that he played on my album, and I am always aware what a great experience it was to meet him and play with this great guitar player. We both went together during an intermission to the next door deli in Brooklyn and bought something to eat. He told me that he gave his wife for her birthday a very exquisite, special guitar. I asked him if his wife was a guitar player too, and in his very special way he answered: "No, but it was just the most wonderful unique guitar" and he had to get it for her. With my best regards, Corin Curschellas

Hi Bob, is it too late to say hello? I will miss your sounds and your guitar talking! So long, Bob. —Luigi, Italy

What a tragedy. And I didn't know that Alice had passed away last summer. I met them both in NYC some years ago. —Lily

Robert turned me on to so many amazing things and people. I met him on the street by Tower Records in New York the first time. He was amazingly warm and gracious with his time. He answered questions about players, music and the "biz". I've been listening to anything I can find that he played on. He always played with heart and fire. Another time when I was searching for a decent Telecaster at music stores in the village, he turned me on to Rick Kelly's guitars. Another great one's gone. I'll miss his playing so much. —Duncan Cleary

I remember Robert Quine in the '60s as a bohemian fixture in St. Louis's Central West End; always sighted with a guitar case. He was one of a cadre of great guitarists from that place and time that, save him, no one outside of St. Louis ever heard of: Kent Baue and Bill Potter being two I would put up there with Quine. His band didn't play much, if I recall. Anyone know who was in that band or if it was ever recorded? Quine's been on my radar screen for 38 years. His signature remains, though his body no longer reflects our signal. —Tom Lunt, Chicago

Just like to say how upset I was to hear of Robert's death ... a pure guitar genius. First became aware of Robert through Lou Reed, but one of my favourite albums is Lloyd Cole's first solo album and this CD would have been nothing without Robert's playing.... Very upset. —Eddie

The sadness overwhelms me.... The loss of a true innovator and probably genius in the music world.... So much is racing through my brain ... it is impossible to say all that Robert Quine means to me in my playing and his attitudes meant to my life.... I'll miss the Maestro.... —db

I remember being really depressed on a Saturday morning in late October 2003. The news of Elliot Smith having committed suicide was still hanging in the air. I had nothing to do that day and woke up early, just decided to walk around the city. I wandered around the west village, and happened across a record store called Subterranean. I was flipping through the MC5 records, and I overheard a conversation that was absolutely impossible to ignore. An older gentleman was talking to what appeared to be a musical ignoramus. I remember the older fellow saying "that was the time that I saw Screaming Jay Hawkins and Buddy Holly on the same bill", to which the younger music fan replied "Buddy Holly is important because he influenced the beatles, right?" Hearing that I just drifted off, centered on the records before me. A few minutes later, the two were talking about CBGB's and I overheard the older man saying "Yeah, we played CBGB's in 77 and we sold out three nights in a row... there was a line around the block trying to get in." The younger man shot back with "Wow, did you ever get to meet Blondie?" So at that point I looked over, and I realized that it was in fact Robert Quine who was talking. I walked over and said to the younger guy "Man, haven't you ever heard of Richard Hell & the Voidoids?" Suddenly, Robert and I were the ones talking. I told him that I was a fan of his music, and that I really liked The Blue Mask, etc., etc. We spoke for about an hour, he went into details about his life and the music that he had loved. Quickly though, things sort of took a downturn, when he told me about his wife having passed away. We walked outside and went over to a guitar store. He told me about how depressed he was; he even said that he was thinking about killing himself. I did my best to say that he of course shouldn't, that he had a lot to live for and that things would turn around for him. It was hard to gauge how serious he was being that a) his wife had just died, and I didn't know him. So it was hard to tell how he would usually deal with those sorts of things, and b) it was before noon and he had been drinking. Before we parted I told him again to hang in there, and that he was a great musician. He told me to leave a copy of my demo at the record store, and because I'm a jackass I never did. I kept putting it off. When will I learn? Whatever you want to do, do it now, right now. Robert Quine is a great guitarist. I'm glad to have met and spoken with him. I'm sorry that I don't have a better story for you, about a time when I saw the Voidoids play, or something more along those lines. —Stephen Ericson

I hung out with Quine once at Mojo about 6 or 8 years ago. I was messing around with an old Bigsby-equipped Telecaster and kinda liking it despite knowing that a real guitarist was supposed to turn his nose up at such a monstrosity, what with the Bigsby ruining everything that made the classic Tele tone: string-thru-body, 3-piece bridge, angle of blah, blah, blah. Quine came in and, as he seemed friendly enough, I asked him his opinion of the marriage of Tele and Bigsby. He was very down-to-earth and told me he'd used 'em and liked 'em just fine. I almost bought the thing on the spot figuring an endorsement from Robert Quine was good enough for me. Then he told me he was having some dental work done which was going to require some bone grafts. He said they were planning to use cadaver bone and asked what I thought of it. I said it was fine as long as they didn't harvest the bone from the cadaver of a serial killer. See, I'd seen this movie where several people receive organs and such from the body of a serial killer who, despite being a psychopath, had apparently been thoughtful enough to check the "organ donor" box on his driver's license. Of course, all the organ recipients proceed to go on murderous rampages and the doctors involved in the surgeries act as though they couldn't have seen it coming. Yeah, right. Anyway, from my brief encounter with Quine, I remember him as being sort of a cross between Hubert Humphrey ("I'm as pleased as punch") and Truman Capote. So I'm hoping we've lost all the 1970s punks we're going to lose for quite some time and that the rest will live long into their 80s and beyond, eh? —James Brown, legendary NYC Rock and Roll Dentist to the Stars/Guitarist/Nice Guy

Sad to hear about Robert Quine's death. I recently "released" another recording of Quine playing "Fun Time" with the Erasers from the X Magazine benefit show [Sharing the Groove]. —h Grape Minkoff

A year and little bit ago at MAGIC SHOP, recording studio in SOHO, NYC Robert was in a production of Kazuyoshi Saito, overdubbing in the early afternoon. The call was around noon and he was worried about being too sleepy and too hungry for the session. He asked me if I can get a cup of soup from the nearest deli before playing. As many of you know that he loved nice dishes, I thought it was my mission to get a nice one. I was always ordering dishes for musicians every day and night for the sessions. I went to Olives, a nice little corner place near the studio, instead of a lousy deli. Tomato soup and a couple pieces of italian bread. He ate everything slowly and got up to go to the room where his associates (Mr.+ Ms. EFFECTs, AMPs and GTRs) were waiting. He didn't say a thing. He came out from the room 20 minutes later. He had a little kid-smile on him and came up to me saying "The soup was great!" before going to have a listen to what he had just played. He knew when he played what he liked to play on a song, or what he didn't plan to play but sounded like his thing ... which seemed to excite him more than anything. He kept saying "The soup was great!" I couldn't help hearing the words as "I did great!" Maybe I was hallucinating. He was a little kid in a big body with a pair of cool sunglasses. He came up to me at the end of that day before he headed home with Alice. He said "The soup was great!!! Thank you." Alice was smiling next to him. So I said, "You did great!" to him and "He did great!" to Alice. Kid-smiles on both of them!!! I finally did something more than just translating the words for them as I worked with Quine twice through that particular Saito production! They said many many "Thank yous" to me every day and night ... but the cup of soup was his thing. I just thought I wanted to let his fans know. —Naomi Watanabe, Musician/Translator

I coordinated Robert for recording sessions with his Japanese friend and musician, Kazuyoshi Saito several times. Today, I got the call from his Japanese friend that they feel so sorry about his death. At the same time, they feel surprised and shocked by this sudden news. —Yuki Watanabe

Years ago, we were doing another demo session for some label or another, and we didn't have a permanent band as much as just "who was available for whatever gig" - which was fine by me at the time. I needed a band for the recording. I had laid down basic tracks with Lenny Kaye producing, Tony Shanahan on bass, Joe McGinty on piano and organ and Joseph "Doggie" Hughes on drums out at the wonderful Excello Studios in (yet to be hip) Williamsburg. The songs were two I had just written called "She Had A Good Heart" and "Small Town, New Semester". They needed 'something', and I had to figure out what that was, quick. I was hanging out at Mojo's one day (a daily occurrence then - my  girlfriend would come home from work and say "What did you do today?" "I hung out at Mojo's" "What else?" "Ummmm, nothing, just hung out at Mojo's!" Ahhhhh, to be young and carefree!) and I was playing some old Gretsch and butchering a solo off a Gene Vincent record (which I still can't play) and Quine turned around and looked at me and said "Is that 'Race With The Devil' by Gene Vincent??!!" I was almost too ashamed to admit it. "Well, sort of!" Off we went. Talking about music from that period when he hit paydirt with me by saying "I saw Buddy Holly in Ohio, before he had his teeth capped." He actually SAW Buddy Holly play. He went on to tell me he had two shrines in his house, one to James Burton (see Elvis/Ricky Nelson/Gram Parsons/Merle Haggard, etc.) and one to guitar great Mickey Baker. I got the nerve to say "Hey, would you be, by any chance, interested in playing on something I'm doing right now?" (thinking: there's noooo way). He said "Ahhhh, drop a tape off here and I'll get back to you" (yeah, right). Well, the next day I dropped a tape off, and that night I got a phone call, and right out of the gate, barely past "hello" he said "Would it be alright if I played a Byrds type thing on this one and...." In the words of Ralph Kramden: "Huminah huminah huminah...!!!" Is it alright??? So he did it. And it was FUN. The song he played "the Byrds thing" on was "She Had a Good Heart", and to polish the song off, Jeff Buckley came in and did all the background vocals. It's getting harder and harder to listen to that song with out getting a little choked up! When I would see him after he did those songs, he would always say "When are we gonna finish that record?" He said he wanted to play on the whole thing! He was one of a kind. And I mean that. Robert never got over the recent passing of his beloved wife, and now they're together again, and he can continue to be the cantankerous pain-in-the-ass we all loved and will remember fondly. Thanks, Bob, for all you've left us with! —Tom Clark, Tom Clark and the High Action Boys

I saw the Voidoids at a Philadelphia punk rock club called the "Hot Club" in the late seventies. Punk was new and a little scary so the Philly Police often raided it and put everyone without a proper I.D. (twentyone in PA) in protective custody for a few hours. After we were released from jail, we arrived just in time for the Voidoids set. I was just seventeen or eighteen years old, a kid. All of the musicians on my record albums were older than me, they were adults with jobs. I wasn't sure if I could relate to Robert Quine, he was bald and had a beard! But man, when he played: lurching sideways in his ripped stripped T-shirt, conjuring his guitar like Mickey Mouse's broom in Fantasia, bringing forth music that was extraterrestrial, alive, and oh so groovy. —Philip Fleisher

I've just heard the sad news about Robert Quine, and was very saddened. I met him in January of 2003, at a recording session in New York, when Quine played on my album. I'm so sorry. —Kazuyoshi Saito

My heart goes out to all of Robert's friends, colleagues and family. To me - on the other side of the globe - he was a guitarist on many of my favourite CDs, and I will miss his music. —Jean Lindén, Åbo - Finland

Sad to know that one of world's best guitar players died. My condolences. On our station Quine was well known and loved. He's in Rock 'n Roll heaven now, may he play forever. —Jaap Boots, VPRO Radio, Holland

"Bandage Bait" (from Quine/Maher's Basic was the soundtrack to about half my meditational night drives during high school and college. Something about driving fast (too fast) at night seemed to open up the world, but never moreso than when "Bandage Bait" played. It's a deceptively simple song, the basic riff playing over and over, but there are these variations playing almost subliminally underneath, like Quine and Maher are charting the whole world. Then, only about a minute before the song ends, Quine kicks in with this solo that takes off in a whole other direction. The song up until then has been expansive and rich, but the solo just takes it UP. As a non-musician, I don't have the words to describe what Quine was doing. As a writer, I can't find enough words to describe how those moments truly felt. That he could conceive, perform, and record such music in such a tiny space as his apartment studio is testament to his considerable talents. Quine's presence looms large in much of the best music I've heard throughout my life. He may have lacked the self-conscious flash and avoided the overlong displays of virtuosity indulged in by other brilliant guitarists, but he could hold his own against any of them. Every note he played sounded strong, and right, and REAL. —David Robson, San Francisco

It's the night of the news, and my daughter, 14, is painting - it's an assignment for school only she's a great painter, and she's listening to the Bootleg Series. I told her about Robert Quine's passing, showed her the story: I also said I had the bootleg series, volume 1. She was surprised that she didn't have all my Velvet tapes, records and CDs by now. So many of them have disappeared into her room, with my permission, not that it would be needed. Anyway, "Foggy Notion" is blasting away right now, audible throughout the house. I only saw Robert Quine play a small number of times, and maybe only when he was with Lou Reed and not in a multiplicity of circumstances, but I thought he was great then, and I certainly hope and believe that my daughter listening right now to another of his gifts is a fine thing. That, versus the media's shoving Ronald Reagan's alleged life and legacy on us all - I know which course I put my chips on, when it comes to a world of better things, now and later on. Thanks, Robert Quine. —Paul Michael Neuman

Robert Quine was one of my fave guitar players EVER. His style was so distinctively angular and coming at you from any and all directions. His solo on "Blank Generation" defines the genre. Get your head around that, hippies. Only the Captain's guitarists before him can make any claim on his originality and sincerity. I hope he's found happiness and peace. —Danny V, Detroit

I was very saddened to hear the news. I still have vivid memories of the 1st time I saw Quine. Richard Hell & the Voidoids were opening for Patti Smith at the short-lived CBGB Theatre on Second Ave in fall '77. After his first solo, you knew you were hearing an original, brilliant voice on guitar. One of the greatest guitarists to come out of the NYC in those days. I picked up the Escape LP at some little store on MacDougal Street - a basement shop - it came in a plain white sleeve and didn't even have the album title or songs listed on the record label! After that I had the pleasure of seeing that great band a handful of times. I also caught him with the band Deadline, with Bill Laswell and Philip Wilson and others, where he showed off his incredible chops in more of jazz setting. Unfortunately, having retreated to Miami in the early '80s, I missed seeing him on stage with Lou Reed. He will be greatly missed. —Todd Ellenberg

Bob asked me to take [his portrait] in 1980 when a guitar mag needed a photo, and he always kept a bunch of prints on hand for when he had a request. And always called to let me know! Great guy. On my birthday 5 years ago, he helped my wife pick out a guitar she wanted to buy me at Mojo Guitars. Blew me away when she told me. —David Godlis

Robert Quine's guitar was the sound of downtown New York rock. There was nobody who could play like him. I loved the way he combined melodic twang styled country rock with experimental avant noise free jazz. His lead guitar on Lou Reed's "Waves Of Fear" from The Blue Mask is a brilliant example of his brilliantly controlled chaotic soloing. He was also the coolest looking guy on that scene. I am so sad to hear about his passing. I have a great deal of his recordings with Lou Reed, Richard Hell and Matthew Sweet, as well as his bootleg tape box set of live Velvet Underground. And - on cassette tape! - I have his great instrumental album, Basic that he did with Fred Maher. I will treasure these recordings and play them for days to come. He was a true master. —Bruce Kronenberg

Sadly it's only now after his death, that I realize what an important guitarist he was to me. I only know his work with Lloyd Cole and some of the stuff with Lou Reed and Tom Waits. But that is just outstanding. Especially his work on Lloyd Coles Love Story carries a great, unique and heartmelting feeling. R.I.P. —Peter Oertl, Germany

This death saddened me so completely and took me back to a time at which music meant so much. —John Donatich

Robert was always a tasteful and inspiring musician, as much for his use of space and restraint as anything he chose to play. He added immensely to any projects he worked on. Condolences to his friends and family, and may he rest in peace. —Philip Papas

I was deeply saddened to learn of Bob Quine's death. I remember meeting him for the first time on St. Marks Place and listening to his theories on guitars, particularly his beloved Fenders. His enthusiasm for Mickey Baker and obscure R&B records coupled with a deep sadness made him unforgettable. "I am the world's finest guitarist who made only $3000 last year", was something that struck me as tragically ironic. If only we could give the flowers to our artists while they are alive. God bless and goodspeed, Bob. See you on the other side. —Chris Maguire, NYC

I have always considered Robert Quine my favorite guitarist. When I first heard the Voidoids' debut album back in high school in the late 80s, I felt that he perfectly captured the energy & intelligence of the early punk scene (or at least my interpretation of it) within a classic rock & roll framework - jagged, insistent & barely in control (but definitely in control). "Blank Generation" is an undeniable classic, but all of the tracks on the album are magic. I listened to the album over & over again, trying to piece together the solos on my own guitar - it never quite worked. When I discovered that he participated on Matthew Sweet's Girlfriend album, it further cemented my opinions of Robert's status as one of the greats of the electric guitar. I've taken pleasure in finding him in sometimes unexpected places (Scritti Politti!!! Suzanne Rhatigan!!! Wiseblood!!!), but it was always enlightening & inspiring to hear his contributions. Whenever I would play a Quine track on my radio show, I would often muse about what current projects he was working on (often getting too deep into my musings - I think the last time I did so, I referred to him as "Richard Quine" - that was embarrassing). I was caught totally off-guard & shocked to hear the news of his passing. I am really sad to know that we have lost such a great musical mind & pioneering player. My thoughts are with the Quine circle of friends & family. RIP —Eric J. Lawrence, host of "Dragnet" (Mon night/Tues mornings, Midnight-3AM), 89.9fm KCRW, Los Angeles

On my way to buy tickets for a reunion Rocket From the Tombs show last June, I ran into Robert on Avenue of the Americas. I told him that he looked great and asked what he was up to which turned out to be a Japan studio recording/music tour. He told me really appreciated hearing my remark about him looking great. I'll miss seeing him on the streets. —Michael Fabian

I don't know you, or Robert Quine for that matter, but I feel like I know what you're feeling about now. I wrote the following after hearing the news. My heart goes out to Robert's family and friends. I'll be posting this at as well as my blog punkrockblues. Again, my sympathy for all our loss. Damn.
ROBERT QUINE: 1942-2004 A friend just emailed me the link to CNN's story regarding Robert Quine's suicide and, even though I never knew the man personally, I feel as if I've lost a brother. Robert Quine, guitarist extraordinaire, founding member of Richard Hell & the Voidoids, and thus an inventor of what we now call Punk Rock, the best foil that Lou Reed ever fired (and he fires them all, you ever notice that?) put a needle in his arm for the last time, apparently on May 31st, despondent over the recent death of his wife. I first saw Quine with the Voidoids at CBGB in the 70s and, while I failed (and honestly still fail, sorry Lester) to understand the appeal of Hell's overblown death-wish bleating, I was instantly turned around by the stark angularity and full blown anger that emanated from Quine's black Stratocaster. His guitar work veered from blistering rockabillyisms to nails down the blackboard shrieks of divinely inspired atonality. Some people speak of guitarists who can play like ringing a bell, Robert Quine played a guitar just like a-wringing a neck. Beauty, horror, comedy, tragedy, insanity, wisdom and the best kind of stupidity, the kind of stupidity that moves a young man to quit Law School to play punk rock, as Quine did in NYC, 1974, were all present in the man's music. Quine had an encyclopedic knowledge of all rock guitar and rather than exploit his knowledge as a curator or stylistic archivist, he blended it all, James Burton through John Coltrane, into a startling and original guitar sound, free of cliche and of a boundless reach and grasp. That he is perhaps best known for The Quine Tapes, the 2001 3 CD set of late 60s Velvet Underground shows he bootlegged goes to the criminally unsung nature of the man and his music. It also shows his love and respect for his music's past. He had recorded these shows for his own entertainment and decided to make them available for all. I'm sure that there was an element of "rent's due" to the whole project, but I believe there was a purer motive involved as well. Although basically treated like shit by Lou Reed, his work on 1983's Legendary Hearts undermixed to the point of near non-existence by the Famous Death Dwarf himself, Quine still found it in himself to honor his former employer's days of greatness by sharing his tapes with the world. But Robert Quine was so much more than a sideman, he was an artist who never stopped exploring, never stopped stretching boundaries, never stopped growing as a guitarist. His playing on records by artists as diverse as Lydia Lunch, Tom Waits, Marianne Faithful, Lloyd Cole, Matthew Sweet, John Zorn, They Might Be Giants, Michael DuClos, etc. shows a breadth and depth of style and intent as to shame many so called luminaries of the instrument. But, in the end, none of this proved to be enough to save the man's life. Despondency and heroin have taken another great from our midst. Fuck them both. Fuck the idea that suicide is romantic. Fuck the idea that drugs are cool. Fuck the idea of cool. Right now I miss a friend I have never met. Right now I am sad and angry. Right now I mourn for more than the loss of a picture on a CD sleeve. I mourn for us all, for we have all just had our lives diminished, whether we know it or not. Rest easy, brother, I hope you've found what you were looking for. Me, I'm gonna keep looking. Tim Byrnes

I'm very deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Robert Quine. Robert's work has been a massive inspiration to me. When I first heard Lou Reed's The Blue Mask in the mid-90s, it was like a door had blown open; Robert and Lou Reed's performances are a master class of technique and total abandon - mixing surf, blues, rock and roll, noise and lyrical beauty - with a real honesty and without any false "surface". From that point on I realised that these things could be combined and I was able to more fully develop an approach of my own. I went on to check out Robert's other work and have never been disappointed. Robert has always made every note count and opted to play for "the song" rather than for his ego - something that is very rare among gifted musicians. I came across your excellent site about a year ago. I hope you will keep it running as an archive to help more people to find out about this fine and original musician. Thanks, David Reid (singer/songwriter/guitarist - The Contrast)

Nice of you to have taken time out to make this site up in Quine's honor of all the great work he's done over the years, but never really widely acaimed or realized by the public. It's very sad about Bob. He was a nice man. I sorta knew him by face through friends. We'd pass each other in the street or places and say "Hi". It's very heartbeaking to hear the reasons why he became so sad and decided to end his life. I hope that he went gently into wherever it is we go, or  like a poem by Keats or something, that he slid away into a dream of his own making. Take care, Deborah

Very sad. I was just looking at All Music Guide and reading their review of Lou Reed's Live In Italy and then went to The Fall website to check in on the latest. When I read the notice of Robert Quine's passing, I gasped. Having had the fortune to see him live with the aforementioned Lou Reed on at least one occasion, I can't express the sadness I feel on learning of his passing. I most recently have enjoyed his "bootleg" compilation of The Velvet Underground. Well Robert, RIP. —Mitchell William Feldstein

I only "met" Robert Quine once. I was at Subterranean Records in the Village and he came in and I immediately knew it was him. He was kind enough to sign a CD for me and a friend. When I asked him for the autograph, he said, "Well, I dunno. My hand hurts. I've been doing this all day long," without a hint of irony. He signed both, though, and then went back to bashing Lou Reed and Patti Smith's new guitar player/lover. Thanks, Josh

One of my very favorites.... He was only ever in town where I lived once and I missed him.... Damn.... —Colin

I love Robert's recordings on the Matthew Sweet albums. His style is truly unique and I am a better musician and man because of his recordings. —William Halsey

Played with Bob in jam situations up in my crib several times in the early '80s; hooked him up with someone I perceived to be his guitar soul brother, Bill Frisell, with whom we engaged in some very jazzy collective improv on a number of occasions. Visiting your web site made me mildly nostalgic, as we had discussed Jimmy Raney, Bill Evans and James Burton on numerous occasions. I still have a cassette compilation he made for me of Burton's best bits with various artists. I also have the original Fender Super Champ that Bob heard at an early '81 roll-out of the new Paul Rivera-designed Fender amps that inspired Bob to get his. Last I heard, he had seven. He also came to visit me once in 1982 when I was working at Rolling Stone, and had just copped a review copy of a 30th Anniversary Les Paul gold top. He took it out of the case, stood it upright, looked it over, and gave it one backhanded strum with his nails up on the neck by the nut, made a kind of positive grunting noise, turned to me and proclaimed, "Don't ever sell this."  At which point I hadn't even bought it. But I still have it, am looking at it now, and think of Bob nearly every time I play it. —Chip Stern

So very sad to hear about Bob's passing - condolences to all his family and friends. I met him in Liverpool when he was playing with Lloyd Cole some 14 years ago - we chatted for a long time before the show, I was "interviewing" him for a local rag, but notes were forgotten and we just had a good ol' chinwag - what a nice guy, it felt like we'd been friends for years. When the piece was published Bob was pleased to get a copy to add to his scrapbook.... Since then I moved to NYC and bumped into him a few times, in particular one time we met outside J&R, where among other things he had me laughing at his lottery ticket buying system.... If there was any justice in this world I'm sure a musician of his stature wouldn't need to enter the lottery!!! His playing was an endless source of inspiration and just pure entertainment to me - wherever you are, Bob, keep blasting away!!! —Paul McCormick

I was a Robert Quine fan from the first time I heard the Blank Generation album by Richard Hell & the Voidoids. His guitar playing was fiercely beautiful, and was incredibly defined. It wasn't until later that I discovered his work with Lou Reed, specifically on the Live in Italy record. His work with Lloyd Cole, and Matthew Sweet continued to amaze and delight. One sunny, summer afternoon, I was walking down St. Mark's Place. Suddenly I noticed that Robert Quine was walking towards me. He looked the way he was supposed to, with a black blazer, slightly-wrinkled dress shirt, and his dark sunglasses. I stopped as he approached and stuck out my hand. "Hey Robert? I just wanted to tell you how much I love your guitar playing." Robert shook my hand and asked me if I played guitar. I told him that I did, and mentioned that my band was playing around town. Robert was incredibly warm and responsive to all my questions about different people he had played with. We talked for about fifteen minutes, then I let him go on his way. I was really impressed with how down-to-earth and genuine he was. Even though Robert Quine is gone, I'll always be thankful that he made so much beautiful music. He'll be missed. —Brent Stavig

You were one of the greatest guitar players, you will stay in my musical memory forever!! Thanks for your music. —Thomas Haelewyn, Belgium

I only found out yesterday, when I visited Patti Smith's website and saw the notice posted there of Robert Quine's passing. He was one of my quieter heroes, and even though I didn't know him, I feel a loss. I met him once only, at the annual vintage guitar show in the Village. I think he might have been a little surprised to be recognized and approached. I asked for his autograph more as a way to get him to stop and chat for a few minutes than as a memento. He griped a lot that day: griped about turning 50, griped about how lazy Richard Hell is, griped about the cost of good old guitars and amps. When I told him how I liked the Dim Stars album, he dismissed it as being sloppy. Did I come away with a sense that he was a grumpy, discontented soul? No, not really. He came across as a genuinely nice guy who was probably a bit frustrated at getting older (as we all are), frustrated that musical collaborators might not have the same work ethic as him, and frustrated because collectors were putting good old guitars out of the reach of those that need them as the tools of their craft, a craft that he took seriously and which made him think the Dim Stars record could have been done better. I have, of course, the Voidoids records and the records that Quine did with Lou Reed, but among the more obscure records I treasure are his collaborations with Jody Harris and with Fred Maher, and Lester Bangs's "Let it Blurt" single. This probably could have been more artfully expressed, but suffice it to say that there's now a void in the music world, and I miss the presence of Robert Quine. —Bob Farace

Forget the 'Bedtime for Bonzo' that's gripping my country, this makes me unbelievably sad. My sympathies to all close to this visionary innovator. Sincerely, Matt Tewksbury

I met him in 1983 on West 48th Street. I had been a really big fan for years and that summer I had seen him around Times Square a great deal (I was shocked to see him in daylight). I was on 48th Street picking up my guitar from the repair shop at We Buy Guitars and Quine was walking towards me. He said hello and we started talking. I told him he was my guitar god, to which he replied "Open the case and show me." I told him I wouldn't dare do that in the presence of the master. We talked for about forty minutes, I got his autograph (which I never do) as he told me there was an interview with him in Guitar World magazine which covered some of the questions I had asked him. I then asked him if he would sign it if I bought a copy. Years later, I told this story to my friend Dan McCarroll (who toured with Lloyd Cole and roomed with Quine). Dan said, "You're the guy with the autograph?" Obviously, Quine had told him the story. I last saw him several years ago in Matt Umanov Guitars, always in guitar shops. He was a great player and a real nice guy. A hero to me, as a lawyer and guitar player. He will be missed for sure. Best. —Michael Ackerman

I was very sad to learn of Robert's recent passing. Please pass my condolences and sympathies on to his family - they will be in my thoughts and prayers. Hopefully they will be able to take comfort in the fact that he is at peace. As a music fan and musician, I just recently discovered Robert's music. At 28, I thought I had "heard it all" and doubted that there was any guitar player who could "surprise me". But sure enough, Robert did just that. The first time I heard Blank Generation (less than a year ago), it was one of those moments that makes you step back and re-think guitar playing. I was equally shocked to discover that Robert was responsible for some of the amazing guitar parts on Matthew Sweet's Girlfriend record. I had been listening to it for over a decade, but it was only two months ago that I actually looked in the liner notes to see who the musicians were. Ironically, this the same week that I finally got a copy of Blank Generation on CD. So as it turns out, Robert had been influencing my music for more than 10 years. Robert was an excellent guitar player - but there are a lot of technically sound guitar players in the world. Robert was able to take the guitar in new and unchartered territory - something only a handful of musicians ever accomplish. In my eyes, he was a visionary. —Jerry Lardieri

As Akronites, as a member (and wife of a member of...) of Tin Huey, as someone who's lost people so very close, both older, and unnaturally younger... but still all losses... please accept our condolences over your family's loss. Robert will always be remembered, and truly, if I could know now, that because of who I am and how I express myself, I too will always be remembered, I'd always have a little insidious smile on my face, as I'm sure Robert has as I write this. Now, it's all about those he's left behind, so all of you do what you can to take care of yourselves. All of our hearts are with you. —Harvey and Dolli Gold

I am sincerely sorry to hear about the passing of Robert Quine. He was probably one of the most gifted and unique guitarists I have ever heard, and I often wished I had his facility on the guitar. My heart goes out to his family and friends. —Mark Saucier

His brilliance will be sorely missed. My deepest sympathy. —Jeff Sohn

Mr. Quine's music was human and emotional. In his hands an electric guitar was capable of anything. He will be missed and his recorded legacy will be held in high regard. Sincerely, Blaine Schultz

Please accept my sincere condolences at the passing of Robert Quine. While I never met the man, I was a great admirer of his music, which was deeply eloquent. Mr. Quine created some beautiful, challenging and lasting work that will doubtless keep his name and memory alive for many years to come. Sincerely, Mark Deming; Ann Arbor, Michigan

The news of Mr. Quine's passing is very saddening. I have been a big fan of his since the 70s and would like to send my condolences to his family and friends. He was an extremaly gifted musician and as important a guitarist as any who have walked the earth. I'm not kidding. Mr. Quine played with such talent and sensitivity as to make one get goosebumps at the sound of his first note on a given song. He made the musicians he supported sound like they themselves were brilliant (Hell, Reed), but, really, it was Mr. Quine who was the star in my eyes. The world has lost a guitar legend. I am deeply saddened. —George Faulkner

Dear Family and Friends of Robert Quine, I am very sorry to hear of your loss. Please accept my deepest sympathy and condolences. Robert Quine was much appreciated for his strongly personal approach to guitar playing and contributions to many classic records. Respectfully, Chris Ghiardi

I'd like to express my deepest condolences to Robert Quine's family. I don't know him personally, never saw him perform live, but I deeply enjoy a lot of recordings he's made in the past. I wish the family lots of courage in dealing with this loss. —Willem Huisman, the Netherlands

It saddens me that such a fine person, as well as a talented and respected guitar player is gone. I'm truly sorry for your loss. Take comfort in your memories and know that he is with his beloved wife again. —Ed Davis; Flint, Michigan

I have heard the terrible news. I'll miss him a hell of a lot. —Eric Veillette

I would like to express my condolences for the big loss of Mr. Robert Quine. I had the chance to meet him 20 years ago in Milan. It is a very sad day. —Aldo Santini, Italy

Rest in Peace. The world lost a great guitar player. —Sven Behrens; Hamburg, Germany

I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to Robert's family and friends. I really loved Robert's guitar playing; I always thought he was a very underrated musician. There aren't many players who combine passionate punk sensibilities with precision and a style that is truly their own. His work with Lou Reed is very special - one of my favourite albums is Legendary Hearts. His playing has an economy and a class that is unusual in the rock world. As a Velvet Underground fan I was overjoyed with his release of The Quine Tapes, and this testament to his passion for music and sharing it amongst fellow fans will survive forever. See ya, Robert. —Gavin Roberts

Robert Quine made me want to play guitar. I heard The Blue Mask as a kid and was gone. He had style. He played with great passion. A perfect balance between control and abandon. Beauty and aggression. He's one of the great unsung muscians. My sympathy goes out to his family and friends. —Ben Michael (guitarist for The Sand Pebbles)

Terrible and sad news. I knew Bob from our mutual days at Mojo Guitar Shop. Bob was always showing me cool things and encouraging my playing as well as making me crack up. I am going to miss him. —Jason (Jay) Braun

I am so devastated. I spent many a day with Bob at Carmine Street Guitars. He taught me so much. —EvHarperNY

I did not know Robert personally, but I saw him play live and heard him on records since I was fifteen. I'm one of those kids who grew up at CBGB and Max's Kansas City, one of those kids whose heroes were in bands, whose friends and lovers were in bands, whose lives revolved around music - so naturally Robert was one of the gods in my NYC rock pantheon. Guys in my school tried to play like him - I can't think of how many bands in NYC and beyond have been influenced by him one way or another. I love the fact that over the years Robert never stopped, never grew out of rock'n'roll, but continued to be a part of the scene and keep playing. Instead of becoming distant or an ol' fuddy-duddy, he kept playing to newer, younger audiences. Please tell the people who knew and loved him best that there are folks like me who, even though I didn't know him to speak to, still considered him with warmth and love as a part of my greater family, and who miss him and grieve for him and mourn his loss. P.S.: I just realised I have something in common with Robert in that we both played with Tom Clark, except I only sang backing vocals for Tom at a Loser's Lounge Easter show.... All my deepest sympathy and respect, Alison Harvey

I know Bob was not the easiest guy to get along with, but I was very happy to count him as one of my closest friends and it was a joy to work with him. With sadness, yours, Lloyd Cole

I know of Robert Quine through his work with Matthew Sweet and a few others - he was an amazing guitarist. Musicians have a special place in heaven. Peace to him and you, Missy

Quine played on a track on my CD and it was a pleasure having him come into the studio. His solo is one of the highlights of my record, and the snarky stories he told in his dry way were priceless and memorable. My condolences to his family and friends. I was glad to have the chance to meet him. With sympathy, Lys Guillorn

I never met the man but he was one of my favorite guitarists!! What a horrible loss. —Mykel

Quine was one of the greats - very very sad. —James Wheeler

Such a tragic loss. His guitar work brought me much enjoyment and I thank him for giving me something I can forever listen to with great pleasure. —Chris O'D


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