Saturday, September 2, 2017

James Bickers Rest in Peace 9/29/16

9/2/17 10:15PM

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people standing, night and indoor

Here's 1 (likely the only) photo I took with James and his wife Nancy from Prog Power USA February 23-24, 2001 in Lansing, IL at JJ Kelley's.

If I find the time and place, I may try and make a video talking about James and that experience soon. I dunno, maybe around the anniversary. I'm just kind of taken aback by how much learning about him dying has affected me. I suppose some of it is his age, but a lot of it is just as I posted below, he kind of inspired me to do this and just listen to something as important (even if trivial) as the music I listen to every day.

I guess in a way, more than say Earl Root or something, I sort of see or saw him as a mentor to me.

I suppose the likes of people I know a bit online like the Used Bin Guys, Jeff Wagner or Anil Prasad..or Lorenzo or Neesh I might feel similarly, but for some reason they feel more like contemporaries rather than someone I was directly inspired/influenced by.

Mind you, I only met in person James, that 1 time. These others I know, I only know online, but it would be great to someday meet in person as well (I met Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot at least once..but they aren't exactly as consumed by the same underground progressive rock stuff I am; nor is The Needle Drop or some other known music journalists).

8/29/17 12:38PM

James Bickers


Okay, this is really weird how I go to look up the quote of his I like and find out James Bickers, a guy I met at the 1st ProgPower USA festival and founder of Sea of Tranquility, the progressive rock/metal magazine from the late 90's/early 2000's passed away. Not yesterday or last week or month, but nearly 1 year ago.

And reading those articles, namely the 1st one, he was not all that much older than me being only 45.

I feel really bad for not hearing about this sooner.

I followed him on Twitter although I don't read the 900 or so accounts I follow religiously.

And so now taking this in, I will try and summarize my experience with him and his work (for now).

I 1st noticed him having a regular column and reviews in Progression magazine in the late 90's I think. He was one of the only people who wrote about progressive metal/metal in general in there, which being that i loved Dream Theater, especially then, and bands like them, he was 1 of the writers I enjoyed most.

Then Sea of Tranquility came out, and it was even more focused. Featuring bands like Pain of Salvation, Enchant, King's X, Fates Warning, and Queensryche.

It was a very well-made, entertaining, and even less-is-more read even compared to Progression. But it didn't last per time and money as I came to learn.

And I was really happy to meet him in person in February 2001 at the 1st ProgPower USA festival, which I was able to have an interview/chat that I later aired on KFAI.

That chat I must not deny, made a very big impact on me and my 25 year old music listening-self.

Among other things, just the fact he mentioned he had a mindset of being open minded with music, and listening to only progressive rock was as limiting as "only listening to Britney Spears albums."

The chat I transcribed I have posted I think more than once online, maybe in my old livejournal even and I would guess on multiple forums. In this blog? maybe once or maybe 1 or 2 other times. The quote about progressive music I know I have frequently.

But IT'S HERE anyway.

But since, I know he was a Renaissance man of sorts, not just with writing and music, but pop-culture and radio, and those links above along with his twitter account add to that.

He had a podcast I guess, which sadly it takes me learn of his passing to now check it out. But so be it, I imagine he would agree better now than never, etc.

Jeez, onl6y 45, and man who may have been far beyond his age's typical amount of wisdom.

I guess he certainly is 1 of the people who largely inspired me to do this and maybe more so, just continue to pursue music listening so passionately.

Also odd how his passing came literally 5 days after My Wedding; and back in 2001 when I was talking to him for those 30-45 mins or whatever, the subject of women came up. Sort of ironic timing.

Rest in Peace James. Sorry to now learn and include some memories of the experience I had meeting you now 16 years ago. The world will certainly miss your work, but myself and hopefully others will help carry on that open-minded approach to consuming and promoting art and entertainment (especially all kinds of music).