An Appreciation

I knew Lou Reed. Not really well, but we were quite friendly.

I knew him a bit when I interviewed him when I was at Billboard, when Doc Pomus died. He loved Doc, and I was quite friendly with Doc—though I can’t say I knew him well, either.

Lou appreciated most that I was a martial arts guy, like he was. He was happy to talk to me about martial arts. It was me, music reporter, talking to Lou Reed, rock superstar—just a couple old boys talking about something they had in common besides music.

I wrote what I call “an appreciation” on Lou when he died, nothing at all personal, just quoting some people who knew him way better than me and were way more significant. I got a nice comment on Facebook from a friend who complimented me for not making it about myself, like so many other writers. She clearly hadn’t seen my tweets, I told her, where I said everything short of giving Lou the words to “Heroin.”

Sherman Halsey & James BrownLou’s death was shocking, even if it wasn’t unexpected. He’d just had a liver transplant, and I heard he wasn’t doing well last week. I tried to reach out to him a couple times in the last couple months, and hope my efforts at least got through.

Sherman Halsey’s death came as a shock. I knew him, too, much more than Lou. Used to see him all the time in Nashville during CMA, CRS and Fan Fair weeks. Great guy. Great talent.

Years ago, Sherman’s dad, the great country music agent/manager Jim Halsey, had a beautiful corner building in the middle of Music Row. He had an open house the day of the CMA Awards, attended by his big artists. I’m pretty sure Roy Clark was there, but I know Minnie Pearl was.

Minnie PearlI loved Minnie Pearl. Who didn’t? A few years later I’d sneak into her nursing home to visit her, in the few years between her debilitating stroke and her death.

But she was in great form that afternoon at Jim’s offices. Sherman and I were outside as she was leaving and engaged her as best we could. Sherman must have known her since she was a kid. But he still seemed starstruck, as I most certainly was.

Whatever it was Minnie said, Sherman and I just had these stupid starstruck grins on our faces, barely able to say anything. Finally Minnie stopped and said, “Did you boys smoke some pot?”

“No, Minnie,” I said, speaking for us both. “But we sure will before the show!”

Jim Bessman


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