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The music industry is not all Grammy smiles and glitter; its closet is a veritable graveyard of skeletons, and when record companies point their collective finger at dot.coms like Napster and yell "Foul!" a hollow ring is heard by the thousands of artists who for decades have been unscrupulously short-changed by some of these very same finger-pointers - Chris Albertson, author's note in Bessie, 2nd ed.

Author Topic: Steve LaVere R.I.P.  (Read 2558 times)

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Offline Stuart

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Steve LaVere R.I.P.
« on: December 28, 2015, 08:47:46 PM »
I just got word from Mary Katherine Aldin via the PWBG that Steve LaVere has died.

Offline Harry

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Re: Steve LaVere R.I.P.
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2015, 03:36:10 AM »
Kinda ironic that LaVere passed away a few months after McCormick died. One of the reasons McCormick?s book on Robert Johnson (Biography Of A Phantom) has never been published (+ the authentic third Robert Johnson photo) was his scare of litigation from LaVere. McCormick also tracked down Carrie Thompson (Robert Johnson's half sister) a year before LaVere did.

I think it's fair to say that the legacy of Robert Johnson would have been in better hands with McCormick at the command, who was the better writer and researcher.
You can just tell by the poorly written booklet that came with 1990 Sony/Columbia box-set.

Sorry to hear about Steve LaVere.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2015, 04:31:18 AM by harry »

Offline Gilgamesh

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Re: Steve LaVere R.I.P.
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2015, 05:17:12 PM »
Kinda ironic that LaVere passed away a few months after McCormick died.

Indeed -- just six weeks. Is it the curse of Robert Johnson? I was just reading Robert Gordon's 1991 article "The Plundering of Robert Johnson" which makes LaVere look very bad and McCormick merely eccentric. But without LaVere, would there even have been a RJ "renaissance"?

Offline Suzy T

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Re: Steve LaVere R.I.P.
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2015, 10:45:21 AM »
This is not to address the Robert Johnson stuff in any way, more of a personal note:

I visited Steve LaVere twice, in spring of 1976 when I was 21 years old, during the most eventful period of my entire life when my future was being shaped in many different ways (some musical, some not). He was the first one who played me the music of the Mississippi Sheiks, which changed my arc as a fiddler, in a big way.  I always hoped to see him again, to thank him, but I never did. I emailed but never got a response.

Thinking about Steve LaVere reminds me of how much I personally - and so many other musicians too, especially those of a certain age - owe to the record collectors.  Some of them I visited, like Steve LaVere and Dick Spottswood, and the precious tapes I carried away from those visits changed my life ? giving me songs that remain the cornerstones of my repertoire nearly 40 years later.  Others, like Chris Strachwitz, I got to know well and have been lucky to work with for many decades.  And some, like Charles Faurot, were only names on the back of LPs that I listened to over and over and over and over again.

So, here?s to the record collectors! I know I sound like a geezer when I write this, but young people today, who have access to nearly everything at their fingertips, can?t quite understand how important the record collectors were. They opened the door into the arcane world of the old music and changed so many people?s lives.

Offline Harry

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Re: Steve LaVere R.I.P.
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2015, 12:43:29 PM »

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Steve LaVere R.I.P.
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2015, 03:27:14 PM »
I agree Suzy. I've divided the white people playing old rural Blues movement into two epochs, Before Yazoo and after Yazoo. I am decidedly from the before Yazoo tribe though I was certainly an early beneficiary of Yazoo.
Before Yazoo there was perhaps a 10th of the material that Nick Perls, then Robert Nevins, and other collectors subsequently uncovered and re-released. There was of course Harry Smith's great effort, which while important has become overblown in reputation compared to what someone like Lomax did.
We had Sam Charter's great RBF series, in my opinion among the finest curations of the material, along with whatever Allen Lomax put out on Folkways, Prestige and Atlantic most of which while not necessarily guitar centric remains a high water mark in the field, particularly his recordings of rural work and Church music. There were also all the great Prestige records of some of the last surviving Bluesmen, like Gary Davis, Scrapper Blackwell, Smokey Babe etc., recorded by people like Harry Oster, Kenneth Goldstein, Art Rosenbaum, Gale Dean Wardlow, Dick Spottswood, Pete Lowry, Peter Siegel and other's I'm forgetting, all had the foresight to put together. Also Strachwitz's Arhoolie.
 Honorable mention to Mamlish, Biograph, Vanguard, Adelphi, Rounder,  Much gratitude is owed all of these strange people infected by all this strange music.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2015, 03:34:43 PM by Mr.OMuck »
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Offline Chezztone

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Re: Steve LaVere R.I.P.
« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2015, 11:24:29 AM »
I don't think we should lump the late Steve LaVere, God bless his soul, in with other major collectors-reissuers. His most significant actions in the blues world were in copyrighting the Robert Johnson songbook, and (directly related to the first) getting the Johnson sides rereleased on CD and thereby kicking off the huge RJ popularity boom of the 1990s, which eclipsed the one of the 1960s and continues to this day. He was a record collector but I don't think any of his collection was released anywhere. Even those RJ sides were not from his collection. It's his way of handling the business side that makes him significant, for good or evil. I knew LaVere quite well but won't go into any stories here, out of respect for his family and lawyers.
I do think he was one of the very few people to become very wealthy from blues music -- if you don't count blues-influenced rock performers I can't really think of another one. I guess that's something to admire.
He also was fundamental in organizing the Memphis Blues Caravan tours of the 1970s, which were delightful affairs, at least the music as evidenced in the recorded versions. Not sure about the financial arrangements!
And I do believe that LaVere truly loved this music, it was not just a commodity to him. He had been talking about writing a book for many years -- I am sorry it didn't get published during his life. Maybe he left enough of a manuscript that someone else can release it.

Offline Suzy T

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Re: Steve LaVere R.I.P.
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2015, 12:31:58 PM »
Chezz, I wasn't talking about Steve's significant contributions to the field, just my own experience of him and his family. And I DO lump him in with the other collectors who have helped me over the years, especially when I was young. That's just my own experience and it may be that nobody else had that experience of Steve LaVere. I'm not commenting on any of the RJ stuff, just on my own life.

And, I could go on and on naming various other collectors who have given all of us so much --- some of whom I never met, some of whom I only corresponded with but never met, some of whom I only knew them from their work on various reissues.  But I know I'll forget someone important, so I won't even try.

Offline oddenda

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Re: Steve LaVere R.I.P.
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2016, 01:07:59 AM »
And now the fun begins.

pbl

Offline wreid75

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Re: Steve LaVere R.I.P.
« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2016, 07:02:06 AM »
Thank you Lavere for all of the positive work you did with this music we love, and #@*& you for the irreputable harm that you caused research and researchers who dedicated their life and time to this music we love

Offline P D Grant

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Re: Steve LaVere R.I.P.
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2016, 02:37:42 PM »
While some may echo you're feelings it's perhaps a little inappropriate to express them in this manner on an obituary thread.

Offline jrn

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Re: Steve LaVere R.I.P.
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2016, 03:14:53 PM »
Wildly inappropriate IMO.
Quitman, Mississippi

Offline Shovel

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Re: Steve LaVere R.I.P.
« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2016, 07:29:24 AM »
thanks to a fellow music lover.  may he rest in peace.

Offline tinpanallygurl

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Re: Steve LaVere R.I.P.
« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2016, 10:19:00 AM »
So glad to see that LaVere still has his supporters and well wishers

Offline Suzy T

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Re: Steve LaVere R.I.P.
« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2016, 11:29:57 AM »
It's entirely possible to recognize the good things that someone may have done without supporting everything they have done.  I wish that more members of Congress could have this point of view.

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