Guitarist for 10,000 Maniacs Dies
By ANDY LEFKOWITZ, Associated Press Writer
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Rob Buck, lead guitarist for the rock band 10,000 Maniacs, has died
of complications from liver failure. He was 42.
Buck died Tuesday night at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, said Blair
Woods, the band's publicist.
Buck wrote the music for some of the band's best-known hits, including ``Hey Jack
Kerouac,'' and ``What's The Matter Here?''
``Rob was a great guitarist and very underrated,'' band member Dennis Drew told the
Buffalo News. ``He had a big influence on other bands. This is a very sad time for all of
Buck, who was born in Jamestown, N.Y., started playing guitar at the age of 6 and
decided to become a professional guitarist at 16 after seeing ``The Jimi Hendrix Story''
He formed 10,000 Maniacs with Drew, Steven Gustafson, John Lombardo and Natalie
Merchant in 1981, taking their name from the 1964 horror film ''2,000 Maniacs.''
''10,000 Maniacs was one of the seminal bands that helped form the shape of modern pop
in the '90s,'' said Jack Barton, music director at radio station WYEP in Pittsburgh.
Merchant left the band in 1993 for a solo career and was replaced by Mary Ramsey. Buck
and the band last performed Nov. 6 at a rally for Hillary Rodham Clinton (news - web
sites) at Buffalo State College.
Bar None Records joins the members of 10,000 Maniacs,
their families, friends, and fans in mourning the loss of guitarist and songwriter Robert
Norman Buck, who died on December 19, 2000 at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
Presbyterian Hospital, Pittsburgh, PA, due to complications from liver disease.
the very outset of 10,000 Maniacs career, Robs innovative approach to guitar playing
gave the group a unique and sophisticated sound. He combined elements of progressive rock,
folk, and jazz to create ethereal instrumental tracks that worked in striking counterpoint
to Natalie Merchants down-to-earth lyrics and vocals. His extraordinary performances
on the groups first album, the independently released Secrets of the I-Ching, helped
attract the major label interest that lead to a deal with Elektra Records. He wrote the
music for two of the groups most popular songs, "Whats the Matter
Here" and "Hey Jack Kerouac," from their breakthrough album, In My Tribe,
as well as "Please Forgive Us" from Blind Mans Zoo and "These Are
Days" from Our Time In Eden.
Rob was born on August 1, 1958 in Jamestown, New York, and he started playing the
guitar at the age of six. When he was 16, he was inspired to perform professionally after
he saw the documentary The Jimi Hendrix Story on Christmas Eve 74 in Florida. In
1981, Rob joined Dennis Drew, Steve Gustafon, John Lombardo, and Natalie Merchant to form
10,000 Maniacs. They played their first public show on Labor Day weekend that year. Jerome
Augustyniak joined the lineup two years later.
10,000 Maniacs released its Elektra Records debut, The Wishing Chair, in 1985. Though
the album was critically well-received, a fan base was growing, and the group had found
supporters among better known fellow musicians like R.E.M., 10,000 Maniacs didnt hit
its commercial stride until 1987, when Elektra released In My Tribe and it became an
alternative rock sensation, spending 77 weeks on the Billboard album chart. The
bands tenure at Elektra culminated in 1993 with the MTV Unplugged live album, which
included the Maniacs hit rendition of Patti Smiths "Because the
After Natalie left the group to pursue a solo career, the Maniacs continued to record
and perform, with Mary Ramsey, another Western New York musician, taking over as lead
vocalist. They released one album, Love Among the Ruins, with Geffen, then went to Bar
None to put out the critically acclaimed Earth Pressed Flat. The revamped Maniacs toured
throughout the world and had most recently performed a series of U.S. dates in October.
The band capped the year with a band-and-orchestra performance on November 3rd with the
Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.
Band members have made no statement regarding their future plans. Funeral arrangements
are pending at Lind Funeral Home, Jamestown, NY. Rob is survived by his parents, Kenneth
Buck and Ray and Carol Ciper.
A Letter From Steve of 10,000 Maniacs
Most of you know that our guitarist, Robert Buck, died
December 19, from liver failure. This has been an extremely sad and difficult time for us
and I sincerely thank you for all your kind thoughts. Rob was an amazing person with
volumes of talent, humor and kindness. He told friends and fans that he felt very lucky to
be a professional musician, and that all the travel and performing for people was like a
wonderful dream. To the guys in the band, he often confessed that he wanted the
responsibility of influencing the youth of America, and he would do it, ONE COED AT A
TIME. To continue his wishes, (but in a more PC way) 10,000 Maniacs and Robs Mother
and Step Dad, have set up a scholarship fund with the Chautauqua Region Community
Foundation, here in Jamestown, NY. Each year, the interest from the fund will go to a
college student studying music. The band and our web master have set up a web page for
donations at www.gottabuck.org. I ask you to take
a few minutes and donate a buck or two (or more if you can) and remember to leave your
name on the list of donors. If you dont feel safe spending money on the internet,
send donations to the address below.
Influence the life of a college student,
remember Rob, and let the music play.
Rob Buck Memorial Scholarship Fund
c/o Chautauqua Region Community Foundation
418 Spring Street
Jamestown, NY 14701