Friends, fans, musicians, writers remember Billy Ruane [updated]

STREAM: Varsity Drag, "Billy Ruane" (MySpace)


Many, many people who knew and loved Billy Ruane are weighing in on our post about his passing -- we highly encourage you to click through and read the comments from the likes of Dinty Child, JJ Rassler, Steve Morse, Peter DuCharme, Kurt "Yukki Gipe" Davis, Chris Ewen, Ted Widmer, Chris Ballew, and many, many more. You can also read Arts Editor Jon Garelick's remembrance of Billy here.  

Below, we've added some of the tributes that are being paid to Billy elsewhere on the web. We hope you'll add your memories as well. 

"In a rock world filled with avarice, Billy’s ridiculous generosity, his boundless enthusiasm for shit-you-needed-to-hear would’ve been inspiring enough if he was just a nutty character that turned up at every gig. But he was much more than that — even in a world that was awfully quick to slam doors in his face (I once witnessed Billy getting fired from a kitchen job because his boss lost all patience with Ruane lobbying to have The Neats play the restaurant’s employee booze cruise — Billy had been working there for all of two days), Billy was awesome at making stuff happen, usually with little to show for it besides a hug. . It would be nearly enough to say there’s a long list of bands, known and otherwise, that received their first Boston show because Billy gave them a chance.   But he was no mere club booker —Billy’s approach to putting a show together (something he got a lot better at in the years following that Clitboys incident) wasn’t entirely divorced from how he’d make a mixtape. There was no bigger believer in the power of art to transform and inspire, and no one in my lifetime gave as much of himself to make a rather chaotic scene feel like family."
-- Gerard Cosloy

"Some people hear music, some listen to it, some work on it and a rare few like Billy Ruane experience it as the ecstatic expression of life itself. I can’t really add to Gerard’s portrait except to concur that Billy Ruane was the single greatest music catalyst I’ve ever encountered. He transcended the definitions of “fan” and “promoter” to become a kind of living embodiment of the transforming experience of music, and he made a deep impression on everybody who ever met him."
-- Steve Albini

"He tracked my band down to a bar patio in Knoxville, TN. He called the club's land line to ask me to play a show because 'it couldn't wait.' I felt like I had just met Hunter S. Thompson's New England cousin. He used to call me at work sometimes (no idea how he got the number) and talk for, like, an hour at a time. And it was always great. I never would initiate the end of the call. If he wanted to tell me more I always let him. If he couldn't attend one of our shows (sometimes it was for really weird reasons, like he heard rumors that someone he had a beef with would be in attendance) he would send a videographer so he could enjoy the show later at home. He picked up a round of drinks at the MFA Drug Rug show this past summer, asked me to play his birthday show on November 10th, and now he's gone.
-- Ryan H. Walsh, Hallalujah The Hills

"People who know will weigh on this one—a major figure in Boston's music scene has passed. R.I.P., Billy Ruane."
-- Sasha Frere-Jones, The New Yorker

"Billy Ruane was amazing. Guarded the Gutenberg Bible by day, the spastic spirit of rock by night. Among the least of his achievements was booking my noise band, Miss Teen Schnauzer, for its only performance."
-- Alex Ross, The New Yorker

"Big story for Boston rock, and not a happy one. Billy Ruane died last night, the Phoenix reports. He was 52."
-- Sam Sifton, New York Times

"RIP Boston's beloved Billy Ruane. Came to see me read at Booksmith once and brought me an armful of books (Pound, Man Ray, Crumb)"
-- Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stone

"RIP Billy Ruane. Emcee'd our 1st Bos show, delivered us boxes of epic mix tapes, loved music, had a big heart. Sad to hear the news."
-- Superchunk

"Boston just lost a legend and a giant-hearted friend. Billy gave Buffalo Tom one of, if not our very first gig in Boston. My eyes are misty as I write this. He will be missed and his death marks the end of an era. We mourn Billy as we mourn the passing of our youth."
-- Bill Janovitz, Buffalo Tom

"It's 4am here in berlin, i've just heard. I'm ruined. He was one of my best friends. I don't feel ready for this. I spoke with him on the phone Monday night from dresden, not 24 hours before."
-- Chris Brokaw, Come/Codeine/etc, via email

"So devastated, so sorry, so glad the last time i saw you we gave each other a hug. still can't wrap my head around this. we've been through a lot together for a long time. i'm going to miss you immensely."
-- Thalia Zedek, Come/Live Skull, via Facebook

"Billy, you were a brilliant, passionate, annoying, wonderful presence. Our world can't be the same without you. The image of you in my head will forever be the time, years ago at a Glenn Branca concert, when you climbed the walls at Sanders Theater to dance with the statues ... as only you could."
-- Tristram Lozaw, Boston Rock, via Facebook

"We loved you Billy, my wife and myself. We shared so much in clubland, in conversation. We pogoed at the Rat back when. We hugged and kissed when we met and later parted company. I can still feel your unshaven face against mine, thinking "Billy, you know a shave wouldn't be out of order." He was brilliant and manic, a champion of great music and the Boston scene. He had his demons, I know. I last took him to Interpol at House of Blues. It was boring, we both agreed. And he was off to another club ... another adventure ... No more late phone calls. no more birthday bashes. Shit."
-- Jim Sullivan, Boston Herald, via Facebook

"[I] was hanging out at the Middle East Upstairs with Sean McCarthy one night during a snowstorm and Billy Ruane came in with a plastic bag containing a carton of strawberries and a plastic dish of eel, which he gave to us before bounding back out into the snow. The odder the story, the more "classic Billy Ruane" it becomes, but what the stories share is him giving something away."
-- Michael Brodeur, Boston Globe/Certainly Sir, via Facebook

"Billy Ruane RIP. Truly one of the most amazing people I ever knew."
-- Dave Derby, Dambuilders

"He used to call me at work sometimes and talk for, like, an hour at a time. And it was always great. RIP Billy Ruane."
-- Ryan Walsh, Hallelujah the Hills

"Our thoughts tonight are with the friends of the late Billy Ruane, whirling dervish, champion of quality musics, one-man-party/pioneer"
-- Matador Records

"Aw, Billy Ruane... we'll miss you, friend. RIP."
-- Ted Leo

"Billy Ruane, who completely transformed the Boston music scene and left a remarkably colorful legacy, has died. Also a noted Harvard Bookstore customer, who once, while carrying 80lbs of books, gave me a high five that nearly removed my palm. Always collecting absurd amounts of books in the seconds before closing, with a cab waiting outside."
-- Bhob Rainey

"R.I.P. Billy Ruane. Rest easy, old friend. My last memory of you will be drinking beers on The Field's patio real late a few weeks ago."
-- Dave Virr, WFNX

"He tried to give me a car, multiple times. I actually really wanted/needed one at one point...but I couldn't do it. He saved Jaguars from death. His mechanic is going to be devastated."
-- Aliza Shapiro, via Facebook

"In 1996 I met this strange, hyper-active fella by the name of Billy Ruane. I met him at the Middle East in Cambridge, MA. He gave me my first couple gigs in Boston. He'd give me money for groceries when I was having a hard time getting by. I have never met anyone so generous and supportive of all musicians of all style...s as Billy Ruane. Without Billy I would've struggled so much harder to get my foot in the door. He is a star, an enigma, a clown, a force of nature and a great friend. I regret not being back home in Cambridge at this time. I will miss you dearly, Billy. May you rock on forever."
-- Monique Ortiz, via Facebook

"I don't think I ever met anyone who cared as much as Billy. He cared about all of the little details; the lyrics to an obscure song written by a musician no one had ever heard of…A slip of conversation had in passing, about a band or show from years and years ago…The way some unknown young artist could turn a phrase into something unexpected…He was open to it; It reached him and he wanted to share that feeling with us. The way he saw things was different. He was stream of consciousness, every second turning his impressions and his love for music into pure, uninhibited, joyful energy. In this sense, he was a living example of the potential we all have to be our most honest selves. Life in the moment, to be grasped, violently kissed and loudly encored.    

"Caring about the details is also a nice way of saying that Billy tended to obsess. I don't think he would like me saying that, and he never would have listened if I had, but now I'm able to get a word in edgewise, Billy. And following in the grand tradition you had of speaking your mind, I say to you; "Hey man, you gotta know when to just chill out!"

"And you know what Billy? Now you are free! On this unseasonably warm fall night, one of your favorites, Nina Violet is playing down the street, your friends are all gathering to share happy memories of you, candles are flickering in the jack-o-lanterns, and the world is yours now. Its all love, my friend, and you are a part of it. Know that we will miss you, and as you exit this stage, we are clapping and dancing, and wildly applauding, just for you."
-- Drug Rug, via Facebook

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