Bob Brozman was found dead at his home in Santa Cruz, CA in the evening of April 23, 2013. Brozman, the steel-guitar innovator who got his start playing on the streets of Santa Cruz, died at age 59.
A legend in the world of blues and roots music, who integrated styles from around the world, Brozman was one of the world’s most beloved musical figures. His uniquely bold playing style and banter with the audience gave him the opportunity not just to entertain with his sharp wit, but also challenge core assumptions about the function of rhythm and sound.
He worked closely with World Music Network for 13 years, producing a number of ground-breaking collaborations. All of us at WMN are deeply saddened by the news of his death, and tributes are pooring in from those who worked with him over the years.
René Lacaille, collaborator:
We have lost Bob, he was just like a younger brother for René. They shared unforgettable moments full of what is true life for them, laughing, cooking, loving each other.
We are deeply and desperatly sad.
Bob was the embodiment of life, music, generosity and open mind, pure energy.
Our thoughts go to his beloved wife and daughter, his family, his friends and students from all over the world, who are mourning. To him. To you, Bob.
Phil Stanton, Managing Director, WMN:
I was shocked and saddened to hear of the death of my friend Bob Brozman. I first met Bob in 2000 when we were planning the release of ‘Jin Jin’, his first collaboration with Takashi Hirayasu and I liked him from the word go. Here was an extraordinary musician who could reach out across cultures with a rare sensitivity; he was having fun while at the same time forging new cultural connections.
I have many fond memories of working with Bob; from numerous meetings before shows chatting about the new album, to a couple of days we spent together in New Orleans searching for any food that was not deep fried.
In between recording projects Bob toured continuously; he told me that in recent years he cut back his schedule to 200 shows a year, an incredible feat. Seeing Bob do a sound check was something else – he would ask the engineer to add so much to this frequency, reduce this frequency by so much – a kind of precision that I have never seen before. Bob’s politics were hard left, delivered with a sharp, dry wit and he loved to use his concerts to probe and question an audience.
Farewell Bob – thanks for all the music.
Debashish Bhattacharya, collaborator:
My American big brother, my first American disciple of hindustani slide guitar a partner of long musical journey, my pal left me... You and all; all of us...
I've no words to share...
Born in New York on March 8, 1954, Brozman was a world traveler who thrived on collaborating with the best musicians he could find from many different musical traditions. Known as the “King of the National Guitar,” his trademark guitar sound came from National steel guitars that he discovered at age 13. He wrote “The History and Artistry of National Resonator Instruments,” and was the world authority on vintage and modern National Reso-Phonic guitars.
His body of recorded work spanned 30+ years. His most recent release was last year’s Fire in the Mind. Since his first solo album in 1981, Bob's repertoire of recordings has grown by over 30 titles to include 14 solo projects and at least a dozen collaborations with international friends. His ability to use the guitar as a portable translator of culture - coupled with his empathetic nature (through music, culture, and language) and seemingly boundless energy – enabled him to establish genuine musical friendships based on respect and love of music.
Bob is survived by his wife and partner of 15 years, Haley Robertson Brozman, brothers in NYC, and daughter Zoe Brozman, 20, along with a tremendous international community of friends and fans. It is their desire to carry out Bob’s vision in the creation of a foundation, Global Music Aid, to help third-world musicians obtain instruments, strings, tuning gears, and basic recording equipment. To donate please go to globalmusicaid.org.