Casual readers of my blog might know my mentions of ILX every so often without knowing what it is — it’s a longtime web-board, coming up on nine years now, which I’ve been on from the start, and where a number of people have joined the community over the years. It’s been around long enough that there have been marriages and births — but, just as inevitably, some passings as well.
Tonight, another sad milestone, one that has affected the board deeply as you can see from this thread. After his stroke last week, Seattle’s Rickey Wright passed on earlier today. [EDIT: Numerous tributes have since appeared. A brief article from his hometown paper is here, a brief post on Idolator from Dan Gibson is here and one at Blurt from Fred Mills is here. Mutual friend and former editor at the Seattle Weekly Michelangelo Matos has a wonderful post on him here, which is linked by Eric Grandy at The Stranger with his own thoughts, while Jason Cherkis at the Washington City Paper has also posted a remembrance and links to Rickey's work there, along with a follow-up post quoting his former editor there, Nicole Arthur. The Seattle Times has posted a thoughtful remembrance, with quotes from many friends and family. Above all else, another friend of his has posted a remarkable and very, very moving remembrance -- I urge you to read that before continuing with anything else I have to say.]
I will not claim to be one of Rickey’s closest friends or acquaintances, though I don’t say this either out of false modesty or to sound like I’m minimizing my grief right now; rather, he was one of the many people who I got to know over time via the board and, eventually, had the chance to meet. This was in large part due to his location — Seattle is a city I’ve had the chance to get know quite a bit over this past decade thanks to my good friend Mackro moving there in 2000, while the EMP Pop Conferences each year further drew musically-minded types together, as it will again this April. As part of the ILX crew in Seattle, it was fairly inevitable we would meet, as we did a few years back and kept doing every year when the conference occured.
Posting regularly and most recently on ILX under the memorable handle “If Timi Yuro would be still alive, most other singers could shut up,” Rickey was a steady, memorable and reliable voice on the board on many things musical and otherwise, a general enthusiast about life. His blog contained further thoughts and observations, and at EMP meetups and post-conference parties we often randomly chatted about many things. He was most well known in general for his music writing in a number of spots, including Amazon, where he was a music editor for a long stretch, the Village Voice, the Miami Herald, USA Today, Blender, Seattle Weekly, Harp and more besides. You can find some of his Harp pieces here, numerous Seattle Weekly pieces here and I’m sure there’s much more out there that can be recommended — links to favorite pieces of his are encouraged, please send them along.
Rickey was, simply, a solid guy — one of those friendly people it was easy to chat about regarding anything, friendly, kind, enthusiastic, informed. “Approachable” sounds a strange way to sum up a person but I think that describes him — I don’t ever recall seeing him in a down mood, though like all of us I’m sure he had his moments, and again I don’t pretend to know everything about him. But it will be heartbreaking to realize more over time that he won’t be posting on ILX again, and that I won’t have a chance to say hello to him in two months’ time. Life provides these random heartbreaks because it is life’s nature; nonetheless, it is very cruel.
Still, I find it pleasurable to know that what proved to be his final blog post earlier this month — a quote from Obama headlined, simply, “I love my president” — was one of happiness and pride, and that his friends and family were there for him and thinking about him these last few days before the end. It is a simple but good way to be remembered, one of many.
A memorial page, which includes information about services and celebrations of his life, has been set up on Facebook. Please join us.