Arthur readers and alike, I spoke with Jay this morning and the sad news is circulating that guitarist Jack Rose (b. February 16, 1971) has passed on to the next realm. It’s with a heavy heart that I say this, but thoughts and prayers are with family and loved ones. He had fans around the world and everyone should know about Jack and his music.  His style is like no other.

“Now That I’m a Man Full Grown”


“Little Sadie”


photo at top of post by Dan Cohoon

Categories: Byron Coley, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 123 Comments

About Jay Babcock

I am an independent writer and editor based in Tucson, Arizona. In 2022: I publish a weeklyish email newsletter called LANDLINE = Previously: I co-founded and edited Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curated the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages, Grand Royal and many other print and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was somehow listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I produced a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. From 2010 to 2021, I lived in rural wilderness in Joshua Tree, Ca., where I practiced with Buddhist teacher Ruth Denison and was involved in various pro-ecology and social justice activist activities.

123 thoughts on “REMEMBERING JACK ROSE…

  1. knowing and plaing with jack these past few years have been among the most profound musical experiences of my life. he was literally larger than life to me… almost invincible. i spoke him to a just a few days ago and he was so happy — happy to be done with the next record (which he felt was his answer to kensington blues), happy to have a few months at home getting to work on the house and just hang out with family. i may never again have a friend with such a discriminating but all-loving heart, an artistic vision so pure and magically formed that it seem to come from another world entirely. i don’t know what else to say. he was what sun ra would call ‘the living myth’. rest in peace, dr. ragtime — you changed my life in ways i was never able to convey to you while you were on the planet.

  2. Pingback: Jack Rose, 1971-2009 « Work & Worry

  3. so sorry to hear this, nathan (and others that new him). i met him the same weekend in louisville that i met you, since we all played on sunday. really shocked by this, and sending out my best wishes to people close to him.

  4. Pingback: Remembering Jack Rose :: Critical Mass :: Philadelphia City Paper :: Philadelphia Events, Arts, Restaurants, Music, Movies, Jobs, Classifieds, Blogs

  5. This is awful news. Pelt was a staple of my college (’92 to ’96) and post-college years, from their earlier incarnation as an indie rock band to drone-builders and beyond. Loved that band and loved Jack. Does anyone know what happened?

  6. jack was a giant… creatively and personally. he stood like a colossus over modern primitive guitar and no one can replace him. a direct line can be drawn from blind blake to fahey to jack, and i don’t say that lightly. i’m honored to call him a friend, if only briefly, and this news is as shocking as it is sad. he could be standoffish, even hot tempered… but once you got to know him he was so generous and kind and always there to laugh and have a drink with. from beginning to end, it was always about the music… always about digging deeper. my heart goes out to his friends and fans around the world, but most of all to his wife here in philly. dr ragtime will be missed. i still can’t believe it.

  7. Jack Rose was a dick, and that is why he was so cool.

    Right now he is laughing and planning his next tour.

    Viva Fred Vegas!

  8. My first band was with Jack’s younger brother, Matt. To say he had a massive influence on us would be an understatement. He made us listen to the “right things” and was quick to let us know when what we were listening to, playing, etc. was bullshit. Very outspoken and unwavering in his conviction about everything. Even the little things. Sometimes I disagreed with him completely, but always had the greatest respect for his thoughts and ideas. Once he had formed his opinion, that was it. No nonsense, no indecision and never afraid to let the world know.

    I remember one incarnation of our many high school super groups (“The Clover Cleveland Fantasy Orchestra” maybe?) was playing at a night pool party in an affluent suburb of our hometown. The parents were away and kids had taken over a mini mansion. Jack happened to have come there with us—he was older and had moved away, but was back visiting that night. At one point between songs, Jack commandeered my guitar, tweaked my amp and proceeded to annihilate. Whatever had been happening before, the band was now following Jack and the before-disinterested crowd could no longer ignore the band, whether they liked it or not. From my amp came wave after wave of sonic fury that Jack ruled over and did so effortlessly. Whatever the rest of the band was doing was completely irrelevant, though I’m sure they were trying to back him as best they could. I’d heard him play before and before I’d met him I had heard of him as his reputation of “local guitar prodigy/god” proceeded him, but this moment sticks out to me when I was particularly moved by him. For years I’d always try to get my guitar to sound like that again, but it never did.

    R.I.P Jack

  9. Pingback: R.I.P. Jack Rose, Smartass, Inspiration, and Someone I’m Glad I Knew

  10. Wow. I’m incredibly shocked and saddened by this news. I knew Jack back in Blackburg VA in the 90s, and had seen him from time to time when he played gigs in DC.

    My condolences to all his loved ones. Jack was an original, and it’s terrible to get news like this out of the blue.

  11. Pingback: Sad News: RIP Jack Rose

  12. I needed Jack’s perspective in an article I was writing to loose my magazine journo v-card. For some reason, I thought it’d be difficult to get ahold of him and even more difficult to interview him. I’d already interviewed some of the biggest pricks in indie rock, most of whom I didn’t care for, as they were lucky to have about 1/2 as much talent as Jack. Only knew about the man from his amazing records with Pelt and his first three or so guitar records. I thought the higher up you went on the musical skill chain, the more inflated the ego became. Wrong.

    I shot Jack an e-mail and, to my surprise, he responded in like a day or two. He gave me a good time to reach him and we ended up shooting the shit for a while. He was funny, light-hearted and very engaging. A few months later, I saw my first Jack Rose concert and he conducted himself in the same manner. The way he engaged the crowd was amazing. In a low-key manner, he drew the crowd’s attention with anecdotes while replacing his strings or tuning his guitar. Laughing, talking about the Dead, making those faces when he navigated a difficult turn on the guitar melody. One time, he was drinking a bit and he told this story that went absolutely nowhere and he forgot how he was going to use it to segue into another song.

    I wish someone would compile a video of him talking between songs. Hope a newborn intercepts his spirit so we meet it again somewhere down the road. He was a great dude.

  13. I had been listening to Pelt and Jacks solo stuff for a little over a year when I found out he was from Fredericksburg VA. Immediately after finding this out my sister and I started going on all over town reconnaissance missions to find out more about his connection to the town we had also grown up in–driving all over to see him perform anywhere within a three hour distance of Fredericksburg.
    I finally got to meet him for the first time when a mutual friend introduced me to him at one of his shows at brick bat in philly–I followed him up to arthurdesh the next night and really got to talk to him-haha I was completely starstruck. He approached my sister and I to do the cover for his new record thats coming out and I am just so grateful to have been a small part of his work which I admire so much. He has been a true inspiration to me and so many others and my deepest sympathies go out to his family. I would also appreciate any information on a memorial service-whether it’s in Philadelphia or Fredericksburg I would like to know so my family and I could attend.

  14. What an amazing musician! He lived across the street from me growing up and we used to sit in his bedroom after school and he’d play the guitar for me. You’ll be greatly missed Jack!

  15. jack’s death has hit me like a ton of bricks. nathan called me earlier this afternoon and i’ve been in shock since.

    besides being a fan of pelt’s for years, jack was there when i first started booking shows in 2003. he played one of the very first shows i ever booked (with landing), and played my house 6 times, once for my birthday in 2005. i probably booked jack more than anybody else, as i thought him to be the best acoustic guitarist on earth. he was a cranky bastard and very opinionated, but he had a warm heart and was a good friend. he never beat around the bush and you always knew how he felt about something.

    i last saw him two weeks ago when he came out to see chris forsyth, and he was happier than i’d ever seen him, gloating about the successful UK tour he just had with the twigs. he was making a living off of his music (which he never compromised), which is something most of us will never be able to say.

    RIP, jack. you certainly touched my soul and affected many others. thanks for making me laugh and for talking about the brilliance of chrome and robbie basho and why most indie-rock is totally boring bullshit. you will be missed.

  16. Pingback: R.I.P. Jack Rose - —=(] buhbOmp [)=—

  17. I have more great memories of Jack than of almost any other musician I know. That isn’t because I spent more time with Jack – we saw each other somewhat regularly over the years on tour and at the odd festival – but because every encounter with him was memorable in some way. I’d say that Jack and I shared many things, but I know everyone who’s ever met Jack has a similar story. His warmth, goodwill, stubbornness, and unflappable candor were all just as inspiring to me as his brilliant guitar playing.

    I’ll never forget his unwavering defense of The Doors and Steely Dan even in the face of the erudite Wire-types who rightfully idolized him. I’ll never forget his love of crappy detective novels. I’ll never forget him making fun of me for liking Richard Pinhas. I’ll never forget he and Jexie and I stumbling to find our cabins in the pitch black at Big Sur after a long and revelrous evening. I’ll never forget him at Big Jar Books, always taking money at the door to ensure that bands were paid (and nobody – NOBODY – would dare try to slip past Jack!).

    Another thing I will always remember about Jack is his devotion to his wife Laurie. Any time he spoke of her, his worship and adoration was palpable. But rather than his gruff exterior melting into something cutesy or soft, he seemed to grow even more serious when discussing his loyalty to Laurie, as if to impart that anyone who might ever dare say a word against this woman would rue the fucking day. It’s something that always stuck with me about Jack.

    My last communication with Jack was an audacious email proposal – I was interested in adding some vocals to some of his unreleased tunes. Despite even close friends discouraging me from such blasphemy – “we love you but you’ll ruin it, James” – Jack was psyched about the idea and gave his blessing, saying that he’s always written with vocals in mind. Can’t help wondering if we mighta had another Voice Of The Eagle on our hands. Ha!

    Dr Ragtime never met Blind Joe Death but I bet the two of ’em are having a good chuckle at all of us Sentimental Sallys right about now.

    I loved Jack and will miss him very much. R.I.P, brotherman. It won’t be the same without you.

  18. A huge loss. Listening to Kensington Blues right now and realizing the monster talent we just lost. And only a year younger than myself. My best goes out to the family.


  20. I don’t think I will ever forget drinking with Jack one night when he glared at me, and declared in defense of The Velvet Underground’s White Light White Heat, “It takes a man to listen to Sister Ray.” R.I.P

  21. Had the pleasure of meeting Jack (and Mike and Patrick) about 10 years ago in Nashville. Years later I was very fortunate to work with Jack as my label issued his first 3 records. We did not hang out much as I was deep in the desert 2000 miles from Philly but it was cool to see him / hang out in Chicago and then out in LA for Arthurfest which was one of the last times I ever saw him. We did not communicate much the past few years but I thought often of him. I’ll miss you Jack…

  22. that’s why they were stirring the cauldrons of their eyes
    a rose is a rose is a jack knife
    I’ll never forget the sun dogs
    a frustration with tuning, a brilliant ragtag
    with such grace and ease
    and that description fits like on nobody else
    when I see him play I want pick it up
    but stunned,I toss one back
    here’s to you man! gone and too young
    but what an old presence follows you like a stain
    a crossing of paths would have been cool I suppose
    but I would have come up with it all wrong
    and it is best toward a distance to keep that path
    sounds like he was the carpenter of tunes
    building some sort of house of song
    hell! it is built of spirit so tangible
    you can’t miss take it
    it is the kind off the cuff that graces the mind
    of the true hosts of heart the blood pumps
    ever so much and the shear heat of it
    is almost exhaust that’s a pleasure to breathe

  23. While I’m very new to Jack’s music and do not have the deep connections that many who have commented do, I’m sad to learn that we’ve lost such an amazing talent. But at the same time, I’m excited to delve into his extensive catalogue. Not everyone who passes away can say they’ve left so much joy behind for others to appreciate.

  24. filled with sadness over the news of Jack’s passing.
    a beautiful person with an incredible timeless gift.
    i feel very fortunate to have had the good fortune call Jack a friend. his words of kindness mean all the more to me now in this moment of loss.
    my most sincere thoughts and prayers go out to Jack’s wife and family….
    your sounds and smile will never leave my heart brother.

  25. i had the pleasure to meet jack on three separate occasions, the last of which was a month or two ago when he played in okc. he stayed at my house after the show and joined my wife and another of our friends for breakfast the next morning. as he departed towards kansas, i remember thinking that i hope to see him the next time i visit my sister and brother-in-law, joe, in philadelphia. when joe called to tell me the news of jack’s untimely passing i was both saddened and in disbelief. my thoughts are with laurie, his family, all his friends, and his many fans the world over. you will be missed, jack.

  26. we had Jack here in nancy (france), two years ago. he gave us a very deep and beautiful show. he was a milestone to me, in his music.

    love to you Jack.

  27. Pingback: GITARIST JACK ROSE OVERLEDEN « harry prenger blogue

  28. Jack was undeniably the real deal, and in this late era of bullshit, it hurts beyond belief to have someone that rare in spirit taken from us at so young an age. I knew him for only 10 years or so, and wanted to feel his warmth for another 50 at least. But he gave so much to us all, family, friends, and listeners alike; his generosity was immense, and I feel so lucky for being able to share those times with him. Being on the road with him, in the studio, and hanging with him and Laurie at home are memories I will always cherish. He made an excursion to the local burger joint to sample the natives’ grub feel like a sacred pilgrimage. He had an holy touch in his hands and reached a level of musical enlightenment that a handful of souls will ever imagine; he also had the devilish tongue with a wicked humor, he was a complete and towering figure. Jack died at the peak of his powers, with a beautiful life of music and love ready to continue unfolding into all our lives. He stole away from us when we never could have expected, and the world is dimmer today. But Jack ascended to join the other lords of light, and he is laughing and sipping on a Lord Chesterfield as we mourn. He created the eternal here on earth, and everybody paid heed when he was playing – there was no other way possible, Jack made sure of it. I loved you man, and we all will miss you the rest of our days.

  29. Pingback: The American Crawl :: Catching Up in Context: Names, Actions, and (Untamed) Wild Hearts

  30. The first time I met Jack Rose was at Terrastock 6, which was the first festival I ever played and I was so nervous! Jack immediately offered to have a shot of whiskey at the bar with me and some journalist (who I think turned out to write for the wire) and he made me feel totally at home and flattered my music in front of the journalist, and made me feel like I was one of the good ole boys. Yes, he could be grumpy, but it was just a suit of armor to protect that big heart of his. He was one of the most kindhearted musicians I ever met, and we were all so lucky to run into him on tours and at festivals. His gruff exterior always seemed to have a magical ability to cheer up everyone else. And boy did he hate to tour for too long. He was always talking about how much he adored his wife, and how well she was going to take care of him when he got home. My heart goes out to his wife. It’s a rare thing to find a love so loyal and true as the love of Jack Rose!

  31. Pingback: Portable Shrines | jack rose

  32. Some people have that vibe like they literally just beamed down to Earth to show us all how it’s done. Jack Rose was one of them. I will miss his huge heart, big smile, quick wit and amazing musical powers. One of my fondest memories will be waking up in my house last year and hearing early morning Jack playing his guitar like a man possessed. He had blessed many of us the evening before with a set in my basement that melted our minds. He woke up the next morning with coffee and smokes and a beautiful continuation of his lifeline riff. Such beauty, dexterity and poise, a gorgeous river of sound unfolding right in front of our eyes. His love and devotion to Laurie knew no bounds. He was a wise old soul, seemingly much older than his actual age. All killer, no filler, the most real deal guy, his ascension has left a huge hole in the soul for all of us. Keep on shredding brother, we will miss you.

  33. Pingback: R.I.P Jack Rose | undomondo

  34. Upon hearing about Jack’s death, I just sat there for a while, thinking of the times our paths crossed. How he would never fail to barge over to say “hey”, give me a slap on the back & we would begin to out-opine each other. He will remembered him his artistic abilities, sure, but more for his presence. And that is what we can’t get back. He was a limited edition.

  35. “If there’s one thing I know about Europeans, it’s that they don’t know how to make a chilli!” – Jack Rose, November 2009.

    Jack was staying with my girlfriend and I here in London just a few weeks ago. He had finished his tour – a few solo gigs in Europe following the Black Twigs’ UK dates – and had a couple of days before his plane home. Which meant catching up on a lot of laughs and good times. As ever – it was a pleasure to have Jack to stay. On arrival he would head straight for the vinyl, spending a while flicking through each LP on the shelf, the odd murmur of approval (or disapproval!) here and there, which made me smile. We would swap stories and exchange tips on records to check out… and he kindly left us his ‘Chesterfield Chilli’ recipe!

    On this tour he seemed especially happy about many things – the record due out next year, the recent European trip with his great friends Mike and Nathan (and Lee), and getting to go home to the new house of which he was so proud! He would call his wife Laurie each night he stayed. I never got to meet Laurie, but as has already been mentioned, Jack’s devotion to her was unerring. Rubbing his hands in delight on learning that she had baked some cookies for him the night before he was due home is one of my final memories of Jack!

    He left a copy of his forthcoming LP ‘Luck in the Valley’ with me: strong words, but it’s possibly my favourite of his to date, as I told him – and it has barely left the stereo since he flew back to Philadelphia. Of course, his expert guitar playing is well documented. His hard working, tough-touring spirit is no secret. His no-bullshit approach to everything in life is both inspiring and refreshing in equal measure. But I wanted to echo some of the sentiments expressed here already about the warm-hearted soul behind all of this.

    Jack Rose – a true gentleman and an undeniable master of his craft.

    Thinking of his wife Laurie, his family and all his friends.


  36. Wow, totally out of the blue, totally unexpected… I never knew the man himself, but I know his music well enough. What I hear in his music is a sort of arcane purity, and after reading the above stories I don’t have a lot of a problem believing that he was any different. He will be greatly missed, and my love & sympathies go out to his family and close friends.

  37. I am stunned to hear this. He was just here a few weeks ago, stayed at my house while he played St Petersburg and Sarasota. A long-time musical hero, a friend and man who clearly saw no point in pizza not made in the “pizza belt” as he referred to the Philly area.

    Jack, I’ll miss you brother. I have your voice to listen to any time and I will do so as long as I have ears to hear.

  38. What an absolutely stunning inspiration Jack was, in every way. Sometimes, folks don’t need to be around for very long to leave indelible, spectacular and powerful marks on the course of the great journey. Jack was certainly able to do this with a grace, beauty and strength of purity and vision seldom witnessed in any mortal. He shared his magic among many, and I am so grateful for that.

    Jack’s music has inspired my own work for many years. I was very happy to meet and chat with him and be able to tell him so. He showed such sincere appreciation. His personality was an extension of his music, and vice versa. In his music, we will all be able to rekindle our connections to him again and again. His spirit is an intensely glowing one, which will not lightly fade from our hearts.

    With endless respect. Hail, Jack Rose!

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