Perfect Sound Forever

Ed Ward tribute

Lucas at Villa Ada Rome Italy 7 21 19; Photo by Paolo Soriani

Gary Lucas
interviewed by Jason Gross
(June 2021)

PSF: How did you first meet Ed?

GL: I first met Ed in Rotterdam as I recall, where I was on tour with Peter Stampfel in 2001 as The Du-Tels. Ed then followed us up to Amsterdam for our next show, paying for a hotel both times on his own dime, just to see us play. Some real passion for music there! I grew up reading his reviews so I was tickled that he dug our duo, and I'd stayed in touch with him ever since. In fact, I emailed him the day before he died to follow-up with him on an album I'd mailed him recently, my 40 year retrospective The Essential Gary Lucas. I was hoping he was gonna review it for somebody. Guess not!

PSF: How would you describe him on a personal level?

GL: An extremely sensitive and sweet guy, very personable and engaging, who knew a heck of a lot about... a lot. He had his snarky/tart side too of course which he flourished in his writing but I rarely saw him get terribly exercised about stuff in person. He didn't seem fazed by anything. I loved hanging out with him because he was vastly entertaining with his stories and opinions about everything, plus he was quite a connoisseur of the finer things in life, stuff like the best barbecue in Texas, or the best currywurst in Berlin. He once took me to a restaurant there called the Kartoffelhaus that served 183 varieties of potato. I kid you not.

PSF: Do you have a favorite piece of writing that he did?

GL: Yes, his liner notes for the 1972 reissue of The Holy Modal Rounders's first two albums on Prestige. I was a big fan of those albums when I first heard them in the late sixties, and Ed's writing about them in this reissue package got me excited all over again, which I think the best music writing does; namely, communicating the actual joy of music. It's far too easy to tear stuff down and belittle it, although Ed was a master at that also at times.

PSF: Ed had a lot of great stories about musicians he knew, interviewed and met- can you share any of those?

GL: He told me about seeing Beefheart right after John Coltrane died [1967], at the Peppermint Twist West in Pismo Beach. Coltrane was a huge hero of Don's, and Don once produced a dollar bill he'd had him sign after one of Coltrane's gigs in LA. Coltrane's death had hit Don very hard. At this particular show, Don was wearing love beads and shades --and he played an improv tribute to Coltrane on his musette that went on for 20 minutes or so. Ed told me he'd been a Beefheart sceptic previously, but that that moment in the show had totally won him over.

PSF:What went through your head when you heard that he passed away?

GL: Utter shock and grief.

PSF: What do you think his legacy is?

GL: A pioneer and a trailblazer, one of the best, most fearless and committed music writers who ever walked the earth. A lifer who did it for very little money over the years--but he did it for keeps.

Ed at Kreuz Market BBQ in Lockhart Texas, Halloween 2017; photo by Gary Lucas

Also see Gary Lucas' website

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