I learned of my former boss’s passing last Saturday via a text from my friend Brian just after midnight:
“My sincere condolences on your friend Ricky Jay.”
I worked for RJ for eight months, 13 years ago. He was kind to me, and I recall many moments of warmth between us, but it would be disingenuous for me to imply we were buddies. I was his employee. Then again, people who knew him for much longer than I did spoke of being very conscious of minding those kinds of boundaries with him, too.
I didn’t think I was going to write anything about him. I didn’t see how I could without also writing about me, and a rough patch in my life, which seemed perilously narcissistic/self-pitying/starfucking/all of the above.
Then old buddy Glen, who is also, happily, my editor, prodded me to start and I couldn’t stop.
John Kevin Boggs had many people closer to him than me, but we were friendly acquaintances for a decade and running into him never failed to improve my mood. I wrote what I remember and admire about him for The Washington City Paper.
“Well, if I’m going to go out, I’ll go out singing.” Ray Price, 1926-2013.
I was waiting to board a plane at Reagan National Airport this morning, operating on about two hours’ sleep, when the Washington Post‘s J. Freedom du Lac, who used to assign me music reviews back when he was the paper’s pop music critic, Tweeted me the WashPo’sobit of country legend Ray Price.
Price’s death had been falsely reported by his son over the weekend, but as I read Terence McArdle‘s thoughtful summing up of Price’s extraordinary life, it quickly became clear he really had left us this time.
I’m quoted briefly in the story, from my review of a 2007 concert that featured Price, Willie Nelson, and Merle Haggard, touring together as The Last of the Breed. It was a great show. I brought my dad along as my plus-one. “I’m 81 and I ain’t quit yet!” Price told us on that evening six years ago. Continue reading →