Roots-rock scene godfather inspired legions of likeminded musicians.
By Fred Mills
It’s a goddam shame that a lot of artists never get their due in their lifetime, with the kudos only coming fully when it’s time to write their obituaries, but that’s the entertainment biz. Still, do yourself a favor an look into the mighty Lou Whitney who, as frontman for Springfield bands The Skeletons and, later, The Morells, was considered an “elder statesman” of the Midwest indie music scene. Per that description, was an unflagging supporter of his peers as well as younger up-and-comers, many of whom would pick his brain for advice. He also was a much-in-demand producer for the bulk of his career, which stretched back to the mid ’70s.
Whitney passed away Tuesday (Oct. 8) following a year-long battle with kidney cancer; he’d previously undergone treatment for bladder cancer. According to this obituary, he continued to perform until last fall.
Got all that? I’ll spare the platitudes and biographical soundbytes; you can find plenty about him elsewhere on the web. I will add, though, that Scott Kempner of the Del-Lords posted a beautiful remembrance of Lou at his Facebook page that reads, in part, “I was first introduced to Lou around 1978 or so, and we became immediate friends. A few years later when The Del-Lords were in our infancy, we all became friends. We all have our cherished memories, collectively and individually. His impact on Eric, Frank, Manny, and myself has been immeasurable. He imparted so much to us, and everyone else who knew him. The nouns that are adjectives in this case: friend, hero, mentor, one of a kind, teacher, guru, band mate, and on and on, are ones we would all use to describe Lou. Our flag is at half-mast in honor of (and I know I speak for the band here) the greatest man I ever knew.”
Okay, let’s rock in Lou’s honor—I plan to dig out all my Morells and Skeletons recs this weekend and do exactly that.