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Billy Ruane, RIP

Billy Ruane posing w/ Amanda Palmer,
Lamb The Beekeper, Dilly Dilly & Jenna Q in Maine
(more by Bryan Bruchman)
Billy Ruane

In my opinion, being an iconic figure, a staple if you will, of any music scene is definitely a lost art. It takes personality, energy, stamina, and an almost robotic ability to mentally catalogue scores of bands, big and small. It takes having the desire to catch any show spanning every genre on the planet, and not just going to the ones that might have more ‘cred’ than others. It takes a knack for contributing to the scene and not just being a familiar face. It also requires a lot of respect from fans, bands, and venues. Sadly, Boston lost one such icon with the recent passing of enfant terrible Billy Ruane on October 26th, 2010 at the age of 52. For three decades, Billy was an integral part of Boston’s rock scene. And Jazz scene. And cinema scene. He was everywhere and anywhere and had a Christlike ability to make you believe he was 3 places at once on a given night.

One of his most notable contributions to the Boston live music scene was back in 1987. The Middle East in Cambridge had been established as a Lebanese restaurant in 1970, but as it gradually expanded so did its live music offerings. Early on they had Arabic music and belly dancers. The programming then evolved to include Jazz and Blues. Then, in 1987 it hosted its first ever rock show with a solo gig by Roger Miller of Mission of Burma. Later that year, Billy Ruane had booked a birthday party rock show at TT the Bears which is situated just down the street from the Middle East. He overbooked the TTs show and asked the Satar brothers (who ran the Middle East) to house the spillover and allow bands to play there as well. From there, the rest is history and the Middle East is regarded as the best independent live music venue in the Beantown area. On the 20 year anniversary of that fateful evening, Billy is quoted as saying “You remember what happened – I threw a fuckin’ party that got too fuckin’ big“.

Folks are saying it had to do with a heart ailment. So sad. The Boston Phoenix is definitely your source for developing news, eulogies, and other important information. I can say for sure that there will be was a vigil at the Middle East Tonight last night at 11:00pm. RIP Billy.

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