February 28, 2009 by A.C. Rhodes
What’s more difficult than writing an obituary for one of your most admired musicians? Perhaps doing so for one of your own. News reverberated two weeks back about the sudden illness and almost as hastened passing of Rickey Wright, Seattle writer and blogger (as can be seen on the right-hand column of this esteemed site). Rickey passed away February 19th from complications after suffering a stroke. Those who have read anything about him over the past month, either through communication with his Aunt Deborah Ebel, or by updates on other news sites and blogs, know that Rickey was a natural born vinylophile.
He cut his critical teeth, like many his age, on the Beatles, but his love for the actual magic of the music is what walked him through the decades until he took pen to paper. After graduating Virginia Commonwealth University in 1987, Rickey wrote and edited for a regional ‘zine, area newspaper and hosted a local public radio show before traveling from his home of Norfolk, VA across country to Seattle, WA. Rickey’s employ found him writing for such papers as The Village Voice, Washington City Paper and The Seattle Weekly to being one of the first writers for Amazon.com.
Rickey’s expansive knowledge – one that garnered him the coveted title “Geekus Music Maximus” after winning a Rhino Records competition – impressed not only other writers, but musicians; two audiences that can be mutually disdainful. But this past month it was his other attributes that had family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances talking.
Friends spanning 20 years gathered to say their farewells to Rickey Wright, back in his hometown. The common theme was shared by all was said not to be strictly music but Rickey’s genuine and unassuming ways. His vulnerability and ability to make you feel like the most important person he’d ever talked to. It was said that the weather was lovely, 67 degrees and sunny, but memories expressed were much warmer and brighter. And as Rickey turned to go, “Let It Be” played in the background.
Rickey’s aunt Deborah, who was family spokesperson during the week, keeping people from Rickey’s life in the loop shared this sentiment:
“In 1964, Rickey was barely a year old. I would hold him in my arms and we would dance all over the living room. Then I would start the records again and we would begin dancing again. One of my favorite songs at that time was the Beatles,’ ‘She Loves You.’ We would sing along with the record: She loves you… yeah, yeah, yeah.
Well, eventually, even a teenage girl gets tired and I would stop dancing and give him a cue that maybe it was time for us to do something else. Rickey wasn’t always ready to stop dancing. He wasn’t always ready to stop the music. He would point frantically toward the record player, crying out yeah yeah on! yeah yeah on! He wanted the music to play on and on and on … and never stop.
Rickey, we weren’t ready to stop dancing. We weren’t ready to stop the music. We weren’t ready to lose you. But you had to go.
Rest in peace, Rickey. We love you. And rock on, Rickey. Rock on.”
In keeping with Rickey’s giving spirit, those wishing to put their grief and generosity to great use may make donations to the ASPCA or Animal Rescue League. The family also asks to request the organization to send notice of any gifts to the Wright Family, 2719 Overbrook Avenue, Norfolk, VA 23513, and to please stay in touch if you are so inclined.
Rickey Wright’s Seattle Service will be held Saturday, March 14, 2009, from 4 – 7 pm at The Sunset on Ballard.
5433 Ballard Avenue
Seattle, Washington 98107