Goodbye To Bobby J.

The murmurs started at Facebook Monday or maybe over the weekend. No one had heard from Bobby Jameson for a while. Was he okay?

Jameson, the mercurial musician whose 1960s music I’d written about during the first year or so of this blog, had a habit of deleting his Facebook page and going away for a while. Someone would say something that offended him, and he’d walk away from FB for a while. But in a day or two, he’d start up again, sending friend requests to me and the hundreds of other people who were his FB friends and who read his poetry and his blog posts and listened to the hours of music – most of it never previously released – that he put up at YouTube.

There were good reasons for his getting annoyed and offended. He suffered from horrible headaches, and that gave him a short fuse. In recent months, both his brother Bill and his mother had passed on, and he was still grieving. And as anyone who spends even a small amount of time online knows, the world is full of idiots and vipers, people who find their satisfaction in either telling people what they should do or in putting other folks down in utterly cruel ways.

Having survived the 1960s craziness of Hollywood/Los Angeles and the strain of life on the streets, and being in recovery from substance abuse for more than forty years, Bobby knew that sometimes the best thing one can do when confronted by idiots and vipers is to walk away. So he often cut ties with his friends and came back a few days later, mending most of those ruptures and starting over again.

But when folks in Bobby’s collection of friends online noticed that he hadn’t posted a thought, a poem or a tune for a while, the questions started and the murmurs grew louder. And two days ago, on Tuesday, the word spread from friend to friend, from page to page: Bobby Jameson was gone. It happened a week earlier, on Tuesday, May 12.

Bobby’s brother Quentin posted yesterday on Bobby’s page: “I especially want all to know that Bob did not harm himself. He had an aneurism in his descending aorta. He was clear headed to the end. He made (I think) a good choice not to opt for a risky surgery, which would, at best, have left him disabled in a nursing home for a few more years. He died true to his own rules of sobriety, honesty, and independence; a warrior’s death.”

From what I understand, it was my 2007 commentary on Bobby’s 1969 album, Working!, that spurred him to join the online world. A couple of people at Bobby’s FB page and at mine have mentioned that in the past few days. One of his friends noted, “[A]lthough he cursed that decision many times, I’m not sure he would have ever done it any differently. I am glad he had the chance to speak up about the past, write his own blog, and begin working through the feelings of all that had happened to him.”

It was through Bobby’s online presence – his blog, his YouTube channels (here and here) and his Facebook page – that I’ve become friends over the years with a large number of people, some of whom knew him in his Los Angeles days, some of whom knew him during the darker days of the early 1970s, and some who’ve met him since. And we’re all grieving.

I never met Bobby Jameson in person, but in the way that the world works today, our online connection made him my friend and my brother. I’m going to miss him, sharp corners and all.

One of the things that pleased me most during the early days of our friendship was that shortly after my piece on Working! brought us together, he shipped me an mp3 of his cover of Bob Dylan’s “To Ramona,” a 1968 track that had been recorded for Working! but was ultimately trimmed from the 1969 album. I was touched that he’d trust me with it and allow me to share it with readers in this space. Here’s one of the two videos he made over the past few years for the track.

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9 Responses to “Goodbye To Bobby J.”

  1. Paula Servetti says:

    Thank-you so much for writing this tribute. I am going to miss him till my last day … Paula

  2. Tim McMullen says:

    This is a very lovely homage. Bobby’s is a unique story, and he was a consummate storyteller: witty, articulate, thoughtful, honest. His blog is also a unique venue of intriguing narrative, confession, poetry, music, video, philosphy, and passion. His was a remarkable life.

    I don’t know how long his work will remain available, but for those who have not seen it, his autobiographical blog is a remarkable accomplishment; it is definitely worth reading form beginning to end.

    Thanks again, Greg, for this fine tribute.

  3. Lesly Rumsey says:

    Thank you for the tribute to Bobby, Greg. Bobby was so much (friend, confidant, mentor, muse, disciplinarian, chairman in charge of praise, rightious indignitarian, comedian) to so many of us . . . our collected memories of him could, I am sure, fill a rather large container!

  4. Alistair says:

    He was a good man with very sharp edges and I enjoyed knowing him albeit only online. As with many others, I’ll miss him. His generosity in allowing one of his poems to be called after my new grand-daughter (‘Ella’s Song’) as he put it in his facebook page on the day she was born and its message was so fitting. For that alone, I’ll remember him. There are so many other reasons.

    Thanks for the memory, Bobby and thanks for writing this blog.

  5. Jamie Parker-Frank says:

    bobby was my cousin. I knew him before many of his friends and yet I never really knew him. We had only just re-connected and at that, not very comfortably. I will miss his intellect and wit and his passion. I know few people who have his kind of passion. I am sad we did not find each other again a few years ago. One thing I do know, the peace that eluded him in life is his now and forever.

  6. Francois Sky says:

    Very nice, Bobby is gone but he gave much more than many.
    Love to him forever and a day.

  7. Donna Mills says:

    Bobby Jameson, super-cyber friend, going back as far as Myspace, (I think–A long time!), responded to my comments and posts in a way that made me feel as if I were more than just another name on his list of friends; although, probably due in part to the close realtime connection I had with someone who he confided in up his final days. Someone who he developed a deep bond with over several years time. That being said, I can only say he always treated me with respect, even after the demise of my relationship with our mutual close friend. Not only will I remember him for the obvious–his brilliant musical talent–but also for his MAD sense of humor! There’s a lot to be said for the latter. As I recall, SNL had nothing on the clever Bobby-J on many a night, when he was in good form. He often made me sputter and laugh out loud with a prompt comeback response. Everyone had a super good time with him in attendance on a thread. On the other hand, I saw his rants, some so brutal, I knew that trying to communicate with him I would be walking on very thin ice jumping in on a rant, (as I often did), knowing I might get myself deleted! But there were multiple sides to the man, as there often is where artists are concerned. I saw some of them, albeit fleeting glimpses. I started out reading one of Bobby’s blogs some 5 yrs. ago, the one about his relationship with Art Linkletter’s daughter and some others. I noticed he got very good at writing. His writing style of late was almost impeccable, (or maybe it always was); editing, grammar, content and even spelling too. I do hope to see his autobiography get published into a book, the proceeds from which would go to charity. I think he would like that, and because now he belongs to the Ages…Bobby Jameson, forever. Love, D.M.

  8. Barbara Blume Klassen says:

    Thank you so much for this beautiful remembrance of Bobby.
    I loved listening to his music, reading his poetry, and literally studying his blog, making him feel more like a personal friend.
    I will morn and miss him, but I know he is finally through with pain and able to rest.

  9. Donna Mills says:

    Hi Barbara, I can tell that you loved Bobby, and you miss him terrible. I just want to comfort you by telling you that I have a very strong intuition that when you say you know ‘he is finally through with the pain’ you say it knowingly; in part, because over the years, I’ve listened to dozens of NDE, (near death experiences), and the people who had them often say, during the transition they did not want to turn back. They even go on to describe feelings of joy, elation, and surprise, the kind that one experiences on this earth only in altered states of consciousness, everything more sensory, amplified shapes, colors and smells; but, some are compelled (involuntarily) to come back. Bobby didn’t come back, but as we both know, he is happy where he is now, and he is feeling no pain. I truly believe it with all my heart/ Peace & Love, Donna

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