ANGELES, Oct. 8 (UPI) -- The wife of guitarist Roderick Poole called her
husband a champion of the underdog during the Los Angeles sentencing of his killer.
Michael Sheridan was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the May 2007
stabbing death of Poole during a dispute that began when Poole yelled at Sheridan after he and his wife nearly
ran over another man in the parking lot of a Hollywood diner.
The Los Angeles Times said Wednesday that Lisa Ladaw told the courtroom
that Poole hadn't been looking for trouble when they went to Mel's Drive-in
to celebrate Mother's Day but shouted at Sheridan after he bumped into a
restaurant employee in the lot.
Sheridan was convicted of stabbing Poole six times with a steak knife
and then speeding away with his wife behind the wheel and young son sitting
in the back seat.
"He would speak for the underdog, he would speak for people who needed
to be defended," Ladaw said of Poole.
The Times described the British-born Poole as a fixture in the Los Angeles experimental music scene who
had been focused on composing in recent years.
Couple sentenced in Mother's Day stabbing of guitarist
is given 15 years to life while his wife gets three years for fatal
confrontation in diner parking lot over a near-accident with a restaurant
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
October 8, 2008
Walking across the parking lot of a Hollywood diner, Roderick Poole was on
his way to dinner with his wife on Mother's Day when a car backed out of a
parking space and bumped into a restaurant worker standing nearby.
"Watch it!" Poole called out. The vehicle's driver apologized to the
worker but exchanged angry words with Poole.
In the next few moments, the car's driver and her husband assaulted Poole before speeding off with their
young son in the back seat, leaving the English-born guitarist lying in the
parking lot clutching his stomach. Poole, 45, had been fatally stabbed.
On Tuesday, Poole's wife stood in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom and
confronted the couple convicted in the killing, telling the court that her
husband had not been looking for a fight that May 2007 evening but was
trying to speak up for a stranger.
"He would speak for the underdog, he would speak for people who needed
to be defended," Lisa Ladaw said as friends wept quietly in the
audience behind her. "He was my best friend. He was my life."
During an emotional hearing, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge
Michael E. Pastor sentenced Michael and Angela Sheridan to separate prison
terms, describing their actions as "cowardly" and unprovoked.
"The conduct is egregious beyond words," Pastor said as he
sentenced Michael Sheridan to 15 years to life for second-degree murder.
"The victim in this case, Mr. Poole, was particularly vulnerable at
the time he was attacked brutally by Mr. Sheridan."
Michael Sheridan, 27, was accused of stabbing Poole with a wooden-handled steak
knife. But Pastor described Sheridan's wife as the
"provocateur" in the confrontation and sentenced her to three
years in prison for involuntary manslaughter.
Minutes before receiving her sentence, Angela Sheridan, a 26-year-old file
clerk at a downtown law firm, apologized for her actions. Sitting in dark
blue jail scrubs with her hands cuffed behind her, she asked Poole's family for forgiveness and
pleaded for leniency from the judge.
"I'm so sorry this has happened," she said, reading from a
statement. "I never thought my decision to get out of the car would
have such a tragic outcome."
Her defense attorney argued that her client had snapped that night because Poole called her "bitch,"
but she never intended to kill him.
Michael Sheridan, slim with short dark hair and a thin mustache, sat
through the hearing in silence. His attorney told the judge that Sheridan had taken his wife, their son
and his mother to Mel's Drive-In to celebrate Mother's Day that evening
without any thought of violence.
Deputy Public Defender Alba N. Marrero said her client felt the need
to act in defense of his family during the confrontation with Poole and did not deserve to be
convicted of murder.
"We know no one takes the whole family somewhere on Mother's Day with
the intention to kill," Marrero said.
Sandra Sheridan, Michael's mother, begged the judge to show mercy. She said
she had been the one who suggested the family go to the Hollywood diner when her son offered to
take her out for Mother's Day.
"You don't know how much I regret that," she said. "Mother's
Day for me doesn't exist anymore because of this."
In the audience, friends of Poole bristled at one point when an aunt of Michael Sheridan
told the court that Poole's wife should have shown better judgment and stopped
her husband from intervening.
During the trial earlier this year, Deputy Dist. Atty. Steve Dickman
presented security camera footage that showed Poole walking away from the Sheridans three times before the couple
finally attacked him.
Witnesses said they heard Angela Sheridan tell him "I could kill
you" several times before the assault began. And they testified they
saw her hit Poole in the head and kick him while her husband appeared to punch him in
the chest. An autopsy later showed Poole was stabbed six times.
Richard Grunauer, a former business partner of Poole, told the judge that his friend
-- who was 5 feet, 10 inches tall and weighed 157 pounds -- would have
posed no threat that evening.
"He was a skinny little English kid with a heart of gold,"
Several friends described Poole as a talented guitarist and a fixture of the Los Angeles experimental music scene who
devoted his life to his wife and his craft. Grunauer said his friend's
encyclopedic knowledge of jazz and blues had helped him make friends across
In the last two years before his death, Poole had stopped performing so that
he could focus on composing.
"Rod was a pioneer of music," said his friend Jessica Catron.
"He was developing an extremely complex and beautiful art form. . . .
Because his life was cut short, the world will never know the importance of
The verdict was given
this afternoon. The young man was convicted of murder in the 2nd degree
which has a sentence of 15 to life. He will go to jail at least for 15
years and be up for parole after that. The Deputy District Attorney has
stated that with his previous actions and his demeanor, he will probably
stay in jail longer, possibly for life.
The young woman was
convicted of involuntary manslaughter which carries a sentence of 4 to 6
years, which will be decided upon by the judge.
The sentencing will
take place on July 11th at in Department 107, 9th Floor, 210 W. Temple Street (Criminal Courthouse - newly
christened the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center just today).
The DDA encouraged all of Rod's friends and family to be there to address
the court and note how their killing of Rod has affected their lives -
whether in person or to write letters. This is called the "Victim
For those of you who
cannot make it physically and would like to send a letter or statement, you
can e-mail or mail them to me - - address the letter to the court - - The
Honorable Michael Pastor, Department 107. I need to give them to the DDA to
review before he hands them to the judge. This is the time your voice and
pain to be heard and if you have the heart to send a letter or be there in
person in honor of Rod.
Thank you all for
supporting me during these trying times. It has been a long painful process
and without your kind words of support and positive energy, I don't think I
could have survived this ordeal. Rod would have been so honored and proud
to see just how wonderful you all have been this past year.
I believe justice has
All my best and love to
all of you,
Lisa Ladaw Poole June 13, 2008
Guitarist Rod Poole pushed the envelope on music In the wake of his
tragic death, friends remember 'a true artist' who loved to explore new
By Greg Burk
Special to The Times May 19, 2007
Guitarist Jim McAuley
had no trouble this week recalling his first meeting with fellow guitarist
Rod Poole. It was at the home of Nels Cline, well before the three recorded
their "Acoustic Guitar Trio" album.
"I was standing in
Nels' kitchen, sipping coffee, when these amazing crystalline tones emerged
from the living room," McAuley said. "Rod Poole was just tuning up, and already
I was mesmerized by his sound."
Cline, a key player in
L.A.'s experimental music scene and now a member of Wilco, described Poole
as "a true artist, probably a genius" in a note on his website,
posted after Poole was stabbed to death on Sunday in the parking lot of
His wife, Lisa
Ladaw-Poole, was there when it happened.
The couple was walking
toward the restaurant, after attending a concert at the Dangerous Curve art
gallery downtown, when a car nearly struck them and other pedestrians. The
musician spoke up; the vehicle's driver and passenger both got out, the latter
allegedly with a knife, according to police. A half hour later, Poole died.
A security camera
provided images that led to the quick arrest of Michael and Angela
Sheridan. They were arraigned Wednesday.
Ladaw-Poole fielded a
lot of phone calls this week, many of them from the parents of Poole's
guitar students who hadn't gotten the news and were wondering why he didn't
show up for their children's guitar lessons.
loved Rod," Ladaw-Poole said Wednesday. "He was really kind with
Poole was a highly
unusual guitarist, equally drawn to the distorted sound bombs of Jimi
Hendrix and the spontaneous microcosmic tracings of Derek Bailey.
"I never could
quite figure out how one man with one guitar could generate such an
all-enveloping aural space," said Devin Sarno, an electronic drone
artist who recorded Poole twice for Sarno's W.I.N. label.
Having left his native
England in 1989 to find a more exploratory climate, Poole fell in with a
devoted cloister of Los Angeles pathfinders that included Kraig Grady, Brad
Laner and Motor Totemist Guild.
Grady, who composes in
microtonal scales that employ the frequencies between Western music's
traditional 12 tones, introduced Poole to his own mentor, Erv Wilson.
Wilson is a pioneer in microtonal music and "just" intonation,
which tunes to vibrations' natural mathematical ratios rather than the
tempered scales used in orchestras.
Never one to take
halfway measures, Poole lived in Wilson's house for more than five years
and emerged with his own way of hearing.
He had a Martin guitar
re-fretted to 17 tones and, using his already precise, shaded
finger-picking technique, began improvising trance-bound variations on
spacious arpeggios that could extend until time vanished.
Poole's solo, group and
bowed-guitar recordings have appeared on the W.I.N., Transparency and Incus
labels (the last being Bailey's imprint).
Poole's music was the
first and last thing heard Wednesday on KXLU-FM's (88.9)
"Trilogy" show, this night hosted by old Motor Totemist friends
Emily Hay and Lynn Johnston.
Pinging and plucking,
gently contracting and expanding, with "just" harmonies
fluttering their intangible physicality throughout, the improvisation
exuded an uncanny sense of peace. In contrast to its quiet beauty, it was
titled "The Death Adder."
Earlier in the day,
Johnston described Poole as "a low-key guy — he was only in your face about
Two words that surfaced
repeatedly when people talked about Poole's artistic temperament were
"passion" and "intensity."
Jeremy Drake, a curator of the "Sound" concerts at Schindler
House in West Hollywood, wrote on a Poole tribute site: "Rod was
always fully present. Good mood or bad, you got the full Rod Poole
experience whenever he was in the room."
Cindy Bernard, a
primary "Sound" series organizer, said Poole was extremely
meticulous about the many recordings he engineered for the series' archive:
"It's rare to know someone whose enthusiasm for music is so
composer Vinny Golia, long the most pervasive influence in this city's
edge-music community, agreed. Poole once recorded a performance Golia had
done with German bassist Peter Kowald. When Golia wanted a copy, Poole
broke down his equipment, carried it over to Golia's house and made the
transfer there, not wanting to take any chances that the copy wouldn't be
perfectly compatible with Golia's system.
Guitarist Carey Fosse,
who knew Poole mainly in Poole's transitional period of the early '90s,
called him "a wonderful improviser, very disciplined, and with
beautiful articulation. I think his technique led him to areas he hadn't
Poole had been
disappointed by the lack of opportunities to play forward-thinking music in
Los Angeles. Though he had made few live appearances for several years,
Bailey's death in late 2005 inspired him to help fill what he felt to be an
Poole's wife said he
had been working on "just"-intonated interpretations of Irish
folk songs, and that the noted film sound mixer Giovanni Di Simone had made
new recordings of him.
Grady recently received
an invitation to perform at a microtonal festival in Germany and was asked
if he could help extend the offer to Poole.
He will be there in
Ladaw-Poole said she will
take her husband's ashes back to England. A memorial service is being
Couple charged in musician's slaying
By Richard Winton, Times Staff Writer
May 17, 2007
A husband and wife were
charged Wednesday in the fatal stabbing of a musician outside a Hollywood
restaurant, authorities said.
Michael Hermen Sheridan,
25, and Angela Cherie Sheridan, 24, are accused of attacking and killing
Roderick Poole during an altercation Sunday in the parking lot of Mel's
Drive-In, in the 1600 block of Highland Avenue. The couple appeared in a
downtown courtroom Wednesday on the charges and were being held in lieu of
$1-million bail each.
Michael Sheridan is also
charged with the special-circumstances crime of using a knife.
According to authorities,
Angela Sheridan nearly hit Poole and a valet about 9:45 p.m. as she backed
her white Honda Civic. The Sheridans exchanged words with Poole, 45, who was
walking with his wife, and then jumped out of the car. They began punching
Poole, before Michael Sheridan pulled a knife and allegedly stabbed him
several times, authorities said. The couple then drove away.
Poole was taken to
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he died a short time later.
Authorities said the
parking lot has a security camera system that may have captured the attack.
Detectives were able to trace the Civic and arrested the Sheridans.
Friends said Poole was a
native of Britain. The musician and guitarist was well known in Los Angeles'
experimental music scene.
Pair held in fatal stabbing
Richard Winton, LA Times Staff Writer
May 15, 2007
Police have arrested a
husband and wife on suspicion of stabbing a 45-year-old man to death in the
parking lot of a well-known Hollywood eatery.
The incident occurred
about 9:45 p.m. Sunday in the parking lot of Mel's Drive-In in the 1600 block
of Highland Avenue. Officers answered a call of an assault with a deadly
weapon and found Roderick Poole, 45, with multiple stab wounds. He was taken
to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he died at 10:06 p.m.
Poole, of Hollywood, was
walking with his wife when he got into an argument with a woman in a car,
said Los Angeles Police Det. Larry Cameron. Witnesses told police the woman,
with her husband, nearly ran over Poole.
They exchanged words and
the couple allegedly attacked Poole, police said. Michael Sheridan, 25,
allegedly stabbed Poole several times before the pair drove off,
"This was incredibly
dumb," said Cameron, referring to how a minor disagreement turned into a
Detectives later arrested
Sheridan and his wife, Angela Sheridan, 24, both of Los Angeles. They were
being held in lieu of $1-million bail each.
Hollywood, among the
city's safer areas, has seen a 5% increase in violent crime so far in 2007.
Poole's killing was the sixth in the district this year.
A word from
Words are difficult to
find to describe the music we shared. In the 14 or so years we knew each
other we didn’t meet much
due to distance, but when we did it was intense. We were inspired by each
other’s music early on and began
recording our improvisations with voice and guitar early on and continued
every time I came to Los Angeles. The memories of those long hours commiting
gorgeous music in your apartment to tape with the windows shut and fans
turned off, Bags, your cat, jingling in the background and the occasional
outside noise adding to our music making will be etched in my memory
always. We always thought there was more to come after our recent CD, Mind’s Island.
We were talking of
plans just the other week of working on new material and concerts.
May your music
continually resound in our hearts.
All the peace of the
universe to you Rod………
Your friend always,
A word from
Rod and I had spend
many years together and at one time we represented the microtonal community
of Los Angeles.
We shared many
concerts, playing together albeit not enough, and many of the struggles of
dealing with a new music community that couldn't figure out how to place
He was an exceptional
guitar player and worked with a refretted Martin tuned to a 17 tone 7-limit
tuning he had worked out.
While his work was
often criticized for being repetitive, I found his work exceptionally
mesmerizing and innovative.
He was more concerned
with exploring the nature of what tuning offered than in filling in former
styles with new intervals.
He was more like an
artist who say, when they work with glass, are more concerned with what glass
does, than trying to make it do what other materials traditionally might.
He was not one to look back which could be heard in how radically different
his earlier 12-tone guitar music sounded.
He was a constant explorer,
experimenting with different open string tunings, and a great variety of
techniques, constantly changing timbres within his finger picking style.
I don't think a single
day went by when he didn't play for over an hour or two.
I had just given someone
in Berlin his e-mail who was attempting to contact him about playing there.
very, very sad for the deeply tragic loss of amazing guitarist Rod Poole,
quite horrible and unimaginable that something like this could happen to
the new music community.
His music and albums on
Win Records have a very special place in my heart.
All the strength for
you and the relatives, friends of Rod.
With kind regards,
Mark van de Voort
is Doug Theriault and I would like to make a few comments. I have been an
experimental guitarist for the last 18 years. I never met Mr. Poole, but I
was very familiar with his music. He is the only improvising acoustic
guitarist besides Derek Bailey that came up with a language all his own (at
least in my mind). Sure, you knew where he was coming from (microtonal
music) but if you listen to enough new music, you know that Rod's music was
very special and in a class all by itself. How I originally found out about
Rod was randomly going through the used bin at the record store. When I
found his music I had to have it all. I knew that he was someone who was
completely original and had thought about his approach for years.
I wish I could have
talked to him. His music is all we have and that does not seem to be
My thoughts go out to
his family and friends.
or should I say Wodewick:
it's time to fare thee well, adieu, so long, and all the best to
hard to believe that you've flown the coop, it seems like you were just
here, chuckling over the Derek & Clive send up of Fireball XL5.
for all the good memories: S.H.A.D.O. Dinky toys, burning the chalice with
Sun Ra's Arkestra, your vigorous defence of vinyl versus digital, you
ringing me up @ KPFK @ 330am, thanking me for playing "Yoo Doo
Right" by Can, while you were zooming around on the freeway system in
your Dodge Colt.
still glad that you liked my shepherd's pie so much, you came back for
more. Thanks for letting me record you, back in the old days with King
Dahl, Lynn Johnston, and Tim Crockett. Many, many thanks for the unreleased
AMM recordings. I'm honoured to have learned from you about just
intonation, microtonality, and Pythagoras.
for your humourous observations about West Los Angeles, New York City, and
Poole, Dorset. Remember when we went to Berkeley to see Derek Bailey? And
what happened to all those photos that I took of the two of you, together,
two geezers enjoying the California sunshine. Thanks for all your
expressions, like "Pretty Damn Good", or PDG, for short.
for tolerating my short-lived foray into electro-acoustic sound with David
Poyourow. Thanks for turning me on to Joseph Spence, from the Bahamas. And
thanks for sharing all the cups of tea together.
when we found those ancient unreleased movie posters for Rainbow
Bridge? And those cool flyers for the "Pyle O' Shytt" party
in Wales? Remember when I explained the significance of "Studebaker
Hawk" to you?
I had a penny for all the times we disagreed on virtually anything. I'd be
rich then, me boyo.
I'm so sorry
to hear the horrible news of Rod Poole's passing. So unnecessary and
tragic. very depressing. I've been playing Rod's music all day. My
condolences go out to his family and friends.
banana marley splits
Last we spoke, not too
long ago - at LACE and giving you a ride home - I had made you laugh with
the newly-acquired information I had received regarding Bob Marley's
Buffalo Soldier tune. A Banana Splits fan, Marley slowed down the tv show's
La la la, la la la la, la la la, la la la la la to Woy yoy yoy, yoy yoy yoy
yoy, yoy yoy yoy, yoy yoy yoy yoy yoy, and note for note! I consider you my
checkpoint for progress as you were my first friend upon moving back to
L.A. in 1989. Seeing you was a reminder that we had definitely gone through
some bleak times living in North Hollywood, each without a job and sponging
off our parents for sustenance........ I did not share your obsession with
Remington Steele at the time and sometimes we differed as to where to go
for meals, I always being a bit of a snob (although your homemade curry was
somehow impressive). You could spend more than two minutes in conversation
with my father, a true feat of courage. I sometimes wondered whether it was
a meeting of irascible minds. Your recording collection is awe-inspiring. I
got a couple of rarities - Roscoe Mitchell and Henry Threadgill - onto tape
long ago from you. I only wish I'd gotten more.... There was something you
said when I asked you who your influences were and it just stuck with me
over the years. You answered with a couple of well-known guitarists, but
then paused and asked me if I could guess who else. "Um, no," I
said, thinking, oh, gosh, who'd you not mention? There was a shiny smirk
crossing your face. "Me."
Love from Richie West
my favorite things about Rod was that he was always fully present. Good
mood or bad, you got the full Rod Poole Experience whenever he was in the
room. One of the first things he would ask when I would see him was what I
had "been up to" and I could tell by his eyes that the question
was absolutely sincere.
Rod played four (maybe
five) times at Line Space Line (just finished listening to the recording of
"Voice of the Bowed Guitar" from Sept 23, 2002 at Salvation
Theater with Joseph Hammer and Douglas Williford). His solo guitar
performance at LSL was one of my all-time favorite shows of the series. His
music was super beautiful, performed with a focus that touched upon
I feel lucky to have
been able to help make his music public and to have known such a unique and
complex man. He was intense and uncompromising, salty and (bitter)sweet and
I will always miss him.
very generous and dedicated. He was passionate about music and the people who
make it and although this sometimes caused him to seem obstinate on certain
points, one always knew that it was born from a rigorous set of ethics.
He performed as a part
of the sound. concert series three times, twice solo at Sacred Grounds and
once with Voice of the Bowed Guitar at the very first concert I organized
at the Schindler House (this was pre-SASSAS).
He was exacting about
his music. We once had quite a contentious discussion about the excerpts on
"soundCd no. 1" - whether they should have a hard start or fade
in. He insisted on a hard start and I think was always a little suspicious
that I'd sneaked in just a little bit of a fade.
Rod was as precise
about recording sound - he was an integral part of SASSAS and the
"sound." concert series for many years, recording almost every
"sound." concert from 1999 - 2006 as well the Blast fundraisers
and the Nam June Paik memorial. In the early days, he even donated his
time. The online archive of the "sound." series wouldn't exist
without Rod's dedication to documenting the concerts.
All of the musicians he
worked with through SASSAS genuinely appreciated the intelligence he
brought to listening and recording. Rod would often invite me as well as
the musicians and composers he recorded over to his apartment to listen to
the recordings with him - he was particularly proud of a recording of James
Tenney performing John Cage's "Sonatas and Interludes for prepared
piano" and spoke fondly of sharing time with Jim while listening to
Rod told me that he was
so excited by Tetuzi Akiyama's performance, that after packing up his dat
machine and mics, he went home, listened to the tapes he'd just made, then
stayed up all night improvising. I don't think this was an isolated
occurrence - he really had that level of passion for playing, recording and
listening. It's rare to know someone whose enthusiasm for music is so pure
and it's that aspect of Rod I will miss the most.
I would like to say a
few words about Rod. I did not know the man very well, but I feel like he
played an important role in my own personal development as a musician.
Several years ago, when
I was just starting to become involved with the experimental music
community of Los Angeles, I interviewed Rod for the program guide of the
radio station I worked for. Exchanging words with him, and seeing him
perform solo and with the Acoustic Guitar Trio, with Nels Cline and Jim
McCauley, was one of my inspirations in departing from equal temperament at
a time. To this day, I have always made use of microtonality in
performance, whether explicit or obscured. This is partly because Rod Poole
helped to demonstrate the power of developing every aspect of one's own
musical vocabulary in a detailed, complete and personal way.
Rod's intensity and
dedication was apparent and inspiring, the several times we crossed paths
in the intervening years. I personally will miss this man, and forever
regret that I was never able to express to him the impact that he had on my
life and my work.
vivid memory of rod is connected with one of the weirdest projects i've
ever been involved in. several years ago, nels cline was asked to put
together something for the LA weekly music awards. nels' typically
ambitious idea was to do the old yardbirds classic "over under
sideways down" performed by a large number (6?) of guitarists plus
drums. right now, i don't even remember who else was in the group but i
will never forget rod's participation. most of us were electric except for
rod who had a pickup but remained adamantly "acoustic" in spite
of the electric nature of the piece. i will also never forget the intensity
he brought to the performance in spite of the almost surrealistic and
absurd atmosphere. el vez was the host and it was totally wack and
disorganized. rod was so focused and serious about his playing it was
fascinating to me. i was blown away by the level of intensity that he
brought to the performance that night and from what i can tell everything
oddly enough my wife
and i ran into rod and lisa at a concert at dangerous curve the day he was
killed. i hadn't seen him in a long while and i was immediately reminded of
how much i really really loved who rod was. his awareness and intensity as
well as his commitment to his art were so amazing. he told me he was really
happy about his program of practicing 4 hours a day. i joked with him about
it but rod was very serious about his playing. that kind of commitment is
rare in the world. several times during the show i looked over at rod and
lisa sitting together and noticed that they were holding each other's
hands. i remembered thinking how happy they looked. it was really great to
see him after so long but it also makes his loss more difficult for me now.
a tragedy in every sense of the word. for someone like rod to lose his life
in this way is beyond senseless. i offer my love and support to all of
rod's family and friends. there is a long tough road ahead for lisa. i ask
everyone who knows her to send their support and love now and in the months
and years to come.
met Rod Poole at Nels Cline’s house at
the first and only rehearsal of the Acoustic Guitar Trio. I remember
standing in Nels’ kitchen
sipping coffee when these amazing crystalline tones emerged from the living
room. Rod Poole was just tuning up, and already I was mesmerized by his
sound. It was always thrilling playing with Rod. The sound of his guitar’s microtonal overtones
shimmering in the air was incredibly inspiring, and the trio collectively
reached some pretty ecstatic musical heights.
But it’s in his solo work that Rod’s uniqueness is most evident. He
created a style of playing that defies classification yet seems entirely
natural. He could spin a single idea into an hour-long improvisation of
constantly changing arpeggiated figures. And he had equisite control of
tone, dynamics and phrasing. His right hand technique alone would be the
envy of most classical guitarists.
Rod’s wide-ranging interests
attracted many friends, and he loved to communicate and share his
knowledge. We would sometimes talk for hours; politics, music, film (Buster
Keaton & Dr. No were particular favorites). Rod had informed opinions
on practically any subject. And beneath his somewhat formal manner he was a
truly passionate being filled with love for his wife Lisa, his friends, his
cat and of course his mammoth vinyl record collection.
The last time I spoke
to Rod, he talked excitedly about a new musical direction he was pursuing.
We made plans to get together so I could hear, among other things, some
Irish tunes he was working on. He had even decided to return to performing
publicly after a couple years’ hiatus. One of the most tragic aspects of Rod’s untimely death was that his
audience is now deprived of hearing this new material live. For reasons
that seemed important at the time--conflicting schedules, etc--we kept
delaying that get-together, and now I can only regret that I didn’t get to hear him play one more
When Rod made the
conscious decision to limit his playing to his living room, I told him that
LA would be a sadder place without a Rod Poole concert to look forward to.
Now I guess the whole world will be a little sadder. Rod played with
commitment, integrity and passion, and he will undoubtedly be an
inspiration to many future generations of guitarists.
met Rod right when he moved to Los Angeles. I was eleven or twelve and he
was helping my grandparents a round their house (amongst other odd jobs) to
support himself while working on his music. Later on, when I moved down to
LA and started going out to shows pretty much every musician I ever talked
to about Rod agreed that he was one of the most talented guitar players
they had known. I have many funny memories of Rod from his visits to my
grandparent's house over the years, but what I remember the most about him
is how impassioned he was about politics and his sense of justice,
especially for those who had less in society. It saddens me greatly to know
this passion has been silenced by such a senseless and violent moment.
lived in the same fourplex as me, on Emelita Street in North Hollywood, in
late 1989, early 1990. After he moved to elsewhere in Los Angeles, he
returned one day and befriended me.
We went to many parties
together during the early 1990's. One of my favorites was Andrea Jungert's
party, where Rod met Jon Beaupre. Later, Jon hosted one of Rod's beautiful
performances at his home in Mount Washington.
He loved the Pantry
restaurant in downtown. Cartoonist Tom Mostrom, Rod, and I frequently went
to the Pantry, in typical L.A. fashion -- driving miles just to eat at a special place
My disabling depressive
illness prevented me from reuniting with this old pal since we lost touch
in 1995. Now I lost my chance . . .
John A. Mozzer
deeply saddened to read about the passing of Rod Poole, sitting here in
Tokyo, I had just had a conversation about Rod after my last gig...just 5
days ago..I was looking forward to contact him upon returning to the
states...I can`t express correctly enough my disgust at how people could be
capable of such violence, such stupidity. Rest in Peace, Rod Poole, your
music is immortal, at the same time stupidity and violence will continue
and I sit here dumbfounded, wondering if there is even anything I could do
That's so, so, sad, how
horrid !, dear Rod, news and the manner of your passing visits such great
sadness, but even as I write this your brilliance, the power of your gaze,
the purity of your sound, warms me, we will remember, dear friend, We will
does something like this happen? And why? It's incomprehensible. But the end
result is that we have lost a dear friend, an exceptionally talented and
innovative musician and a kind, wonderful, passionate human being.
Rod and Lisa were at
our show at Dangerous Curve on Sunday, a mere 3 hours before this tragedy
took place. We hadn't seen much of Rod lately, and we were pleasantly
surprised and grateful that he and Lisa made it to our gig that day. It was
a chance to catch up with each other's goings on, and as always Rod was
full of fire and enthusiasm. It's inconceivable to think that a few hours
later Rod would be taken from us. When something like this happens in such
close proximity, you wonder what could have been done to change the course.
What if we had invited him out for pizza after the gig? What if we had
chatted another 10 minutes? But it doesn't work that way. It's a random
universe, and things don't always happen for a reason. Sometimes they just
happen. It's useless to try to make sense of a senseless act. Instead, we
need to honor a life lived and let it reflect in our own lives.
We can't even begin to
imagine the pain Lisa and Rod's family are going through. We only hope
there is some comfort gained in the knowledge that Rod was well loved and
respected by the music community and everyone else that knew him. His music
and sounds and spirit will remain in our hearts and minds and ears always.
Much love to you, dear
Joe Berardi and Kira Vollmann
On Rod Poole
On this Thursday May
17, 2007, I was wondering what the hell I was going to do at 1:00 P.M.
That’s when Rod Poole and I worked
listening/trading/selling/upgrading/sharing/gifting/downloading rare music.
We listened to music
over a catered lunch, libations, talk of music shows and in particular
looking for those rarest of shows, the kind of music
Where the light
shimmers and sounds transcend time and space.
We both wanted to hear
a show from beginning to end.
No one else can sit
with me and listen to a whole show, critique it and read up on it from even
rarer music book bibles.
Rod knew matrix
numbers, memorized dates, times, song orders and unique characteristics of
Rod knew everything of
Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Coltrane, Davis, Sun Ra, and experimental music and
then that’s scratching just the surface.
Moving more deeply into
the musical wave, sipping on tea or coffee for hours, looking up to
discuss, many times in non-verbal communication.
So 1:00 P.M. comes and
just then up comes a black cat and sits right where mine sat on the couch
outside my bedroom door.
I was listening to Rod’s latest music effort #16 of 42
Special Limited Edition on colored vinyl solo acoustic guitar by Rod!
I sat all day Thursday
listening to Rod’s music
with this stray cat. Could not come close but ate food with me from leftovers
I had around.
I enjoyed the day in
the sun with the cat listening to Rod’s music, eating, conversing and hearing the music from
beginning to end.
Then the cat left when
Rod normally would leave to return home as the sun went down.
No worries the cat came
back last night, Friday and slept outside my door and we ate, listened to
more music and looked at each other.
Each of us was enjoying
the sounds of the music together. At the right moment, each of us would indicate
our pleasure with such using a jester, a look or relaxed pose as Rod and I
I have made a new
By the way Rod and I
grieved the loss of my cats and his together last year, as we were “Cat People” as well.
G_D works in mysterious
Rod will live on in his
horrified when I heard the news. I have known Rod since the early 1980's,
and He was a big influence on my confidence as a musician, although he did
ban me from using synthesisers in our trio, (he was probably right to do
so) . A man with a direct line to musical taste. A lovely man my daughter
had only spoken to him on the phone, yet she cried when I told her. A man
who could transmit warmth down a phone line, or through your stereo.
very sad to hear of Rod's passing. We only met once, in 2003, and I recall
being struck by his personal warmth and humility. Tragic.
just to make sure my caring heartfelt sympathy is given to all of you i am
sending this though i did write it on myspace to the Oxford Improvisers and
in their comments to give respect to Rod's life.
God bless you each
& Rod I am so sad.
How unbelievably horrible
to have this happen, I am so sorry and sad for the loss of such a lovely
person and soul. God bless Rod and the joy he gave so many and my deep
sympathy for all of you, it is sickening such a waste can ever occur due to
someone's anger and idiocy that can take a life away, it breaks my heart.
Thank God for Rod's life.
Floods of memories,
from '77 till he left.
The first album he
played me was Funkadelic, but soon moved on to Zappa. I played him Fripp
Sharing a house and
teaching him to shop for sensible food. The supermarket where he stuck his
cheeky grin round the end of the aisle and asked "mooooooose?" (
I still say it at least once a week and it still makes me smile) (and
The week he decided to
start collecting Grateful Dead bootlegs and the 3 months of listening to
Walking round Oxford in
the winter in his huge greatcoat with his huge hair on top. Nights beyond
number with Matt and Buzz and Kate and Alex, mesmerised by his music (which
he called "intellectual wanking").
There was a party at
Kate and Alex's 4 storey house, people everywhere. We were in a room on the
top floor, escaping the early 80's student music downstairs, listening to
the rich gentle sounds Rod was playing (he was tuning up) when he asked me
to get him a spoon. Down to the basement kitchen I went, but by the time I
returned I had to fight my way back in, it was so crowded. Soon everyone
was crowded round the door as, for over an hour, Rod enraptured the entire
party by playing with a spoon.
I know little of his
time in the States other than his early problems. We both kept moving and
lost touch. I know even less about the technicalities of his music, I just
know he was the best musician I could ever hope to meet.
A crap housemate, but a
very special friend.
saddened to learn of Rod's demise. Met him in 1989, when he and Hermann
Buhler were sharing the afore-mentioned Emelita Street flat. Struck by his
intensity and confidence in himself. Independent, wise, sparkling of humor,
An integral part of the
new music community here in Los Angeles … part of the family.
I am absolutely
stunned over Rod's death. I have been trying to collect my thoughts about
him but am frankly still quite shocked about it. I had just been listening
to some recordings of a group that had included Rod that we had made back
in 2004 - I had (re)gotten the sound files and finally had the chance to
load and listen to the session the Thursday before he died.
I first met Rod at
saxophonist / composer Lynn Johnston's house - or shack as it may be. He
was there with his DAT machine recording a small group Lynn had put
together with Scot Ray, Adam Lane and Vijay Anderson. Rod was extremely
courteous and quiet - but that wry sense of humor came out and it wasn't
until he had left after the session that I found out he was a musician. I
think this kind of initial shyness seemed typical of Rod - a quietness and
politeness that gave way to his intense opinions and high standard of
Rod had not played in
concert for quite a while (perhaps over 3 years) although he practiced
intensely everyday. In the fall he showed me what he had been doing lately,
playing me some Irish folk music he had been "working up".
Beautiful, exquisite, delicate, detailed and fast! - I felt honored that
Rod felt comfortable to sit and play for me in such an intimate way. Seeing
what he was working on, his technique, his focus on his work, his sense of
musical vision and his dogged interest in pursuing his musical interest
wherever it was leading him really inspired me. After I left his place I
remember thinking that I better get myself together!
A trip to Rod's was
going to be a few hours - never a drive by. Always a conversation, and
more:"Let me just play something for you..." would then turn into
4 hrs of conversation, digging through his immense record collection covering
tons of recordings (tapes too!) with oodles of talk about Sun Ra, Derek
Bailey, ICP records, Coltrane records, Dr. Who, an obscure (to me) folk
guitar player like Sandy Bull or some other unknown treasure of music. Rod
would recommend a record with such intensity - the Coltrane Olatunji
Concert comes to mind - that you knew it held something very special for
Rod didn't like that
you could hear a car outside on that Dec 96 record or was at least seemed
ambivalent about it, but for me it gave that record a sense of space and
place - his apartment! - and an image of him there doing what he did almost
everyday: playing solo. It was also that recording which made me see
connections between Rod's lovely music and other artists whose music I was
interested in and helped plant the aesthetic seed for getting these
musicians together to perform (Steve Roden, Tucker Dulin, Karen Stackpole,
Rod and myself).
Talking to him this
past fall, he seemed to be coming out of this zone of public performing
silence and we had spoken about places to play and people for him to play /
join forces with in Europe. I was really hoping that he would hit the
streets and show more of the world his music.
The last time I saw Rod
was in January. I was leaving LA for a few months and I had this Roscoe
Mitchell tape that he had lent me (Noonah) and I wanted to get it back to
him. Typical Rod, generosity combined with putting things off, he told me I
could hold onto it, that I could return it later. But I wanted to say
goodbye and it was also one of those hard-to-find treasures that I had to
get it back to him so when he had another visitor's ears to open about
Roscoe Mitchell, he could say, "Do you have a minute? - can I play you
I am sad that this
won't be happening and that such a unique man and great musician is gone.
There are many more memories of Rod that keep bubbling up for me - he will
be sorely missed.
to Rod Poole
By Brent Bloom
My fondest memories of
Rod Poole were back in the music business days of Hollywood, California. I
was living at 801 N Las Palmas in Waring Manor and eventually met Rod in
the late 90s, who lived downstairs. We became friends that shared
optimater, incense, and hours of very late night music in my apartment upstairs.
We listened to “Jump on Top
of Me, Baby” by the Stones many of times,
and Rod would always say, “That is the
real band!” The time spent listening was a
great experience because Rod showed me so many new historical perspectives
of Peter Green’s Fleetwood
Mac, The Flying Burrito Brothers/Gram Parsons, Sun Ra, true old school
Ska/Reggae (Lee Perry), Prince Buster, John Fahey, Leo Kothe—simply 6- and 12-string guitar!
I was always knocking
on his door, seeing him in his plush blue robe with the kettle always going
off, food being prepared or the empty can of baked beans, and talking and
listening to “Live at
Leeds”– vinyl versus new extensions on CD! The days of Rhino
Records, Saturday vinyl sales, or conquering Aarons! Those days are
memories that a monetary state will never understand, and we barely got by,
but money could be found for music and fine German malt liquor beer. Seeing
him perform at that old, tiny Hollywood theatre or in his apartment –we both had problems dealing
with the outside noise of Las Palmas and Waring. Discussing Hendrix,
Zeppelin, Zappa, the blues in general, was amazing. As a friend, Rob helped
me survive in Hollywood when I was preparing to leave the music business
back before MP3, downloading, early DVD. Rod was there for me, and all that
was on our brains was vinyl, books, and historical perspectives of all
One of the last people
I said goodbye to was Rod—we drank a
few beers on top of Waring Manor and my road was back home. It has been
nine years since the departure, but our friendship continued on a phone
level that I will deeply miss. My regret is that the last time we talked
was in September, when I returned from a Blues festival in Grafton,
Wisconsin. Paramount recorded some historical 78rpm discs there. We conversed
for awhile and, as friends, always shared stories together.
A week before Rod’s death, Les Paul was in his
hometown of Waukesha, Wisconsin. Now I regret not sharing this experience
with Rod. Rod, you will be greatly missed by the world because you were an
original in a not-so-original place called Hollywood. To have shared so
many conversations together on the lost land line phone concept of
meaningful exchange of ideas, history, philosophy, and life in general will
be a void for many worldwide!
And I can’t forget our vinyl outings of “Exile on Main Street” many a late night, and Peter
Green’s Fleetwood Mac historical film
on VHS. Those guys are loaded – no real playing, no real vocals – Hollywood. Not to mention
Rainbow Bridge and sharing my dad’s copy of “The Monterey Pops Festival Program”, and “Gimme Shelter” (they hit Marty).
Garcia responds, “Bummer, man!”
I raise my wine glass
to a true original that made so much happen. You will be missed by me.
wish to express my sadness upon hearing of Rod's senseless passing. My wife
and I were just the other day talking about how the small group of people
in the world who are devoted to pushing sound into truly new regions
constitute a tribe of sorts. I didn't know Rod, though I know his life
brought great joy to many people in this tribe, and outside of it as well.
All my love to his family and friends,
1973 and nobody knew quite what to make of this kid newly arrived at Cumnor
Primary school, with his distinctive shock of long blond curly hair. He
could run fast and excelled at sport, routinely knocking cricket balls into
the field beyond the school fence (much to the annoyance of the teachers).
No one could get him out, and we all admired him. After a few weeks, he
invited me to his house after school. We were both 11 years old. His
parents owned the local grocer’s shop close to the school, and they lived in a flat
above it. I’d never experienced a place like
it. Like Charlie at the Chocolate factory, we could have pretty much
anything we wanted from the shop, so long as we asked politely and it was
just one item at a time. Rod was an only child and his dad indulged him in
a kindly way. Upstairs, Rod had an electric guitar and practice amp in his
bedroom. He didn’t play it,
but it looked cool and I’d never
seen one before. He also had a child’s drum kit – a toy, but it worked. This was the first of many
visits: we’d roam the Cumnor fields with
his dog Buster (who’d play
brilliantly in goal for us at soccer till he punctured the ball); ruin his
swing by playing on it relentlessly (I remember us laughing ourselves
stupid as it collapsed); and discuss Superheroes from Marvel comics, and
what we’d do with the X-Ray specs
advertised in the classifieds at the back of them. Then one day, he picked
up the guitar and I sat at the drums. We had no idea of tuning, or timing
for that matter, but we imagined ourselves popstars. We did this so often
that his dad one day took us to Snitterfield, near Stratford-on-Avon, as a
birthday surprise, where there was a small recording studio in an
ex-customs building. We recorded our only song. Suppressing tears of
laughter, the engineer said, ‘What about a B-side?’ We’d never
imagined having one – so Rod
strummed something and sang too, making it up on the spot. A month or so
later, an unmarked vinyl EP arrived through the post. It was Rod’s first recording. I’m pretty sure Rod has suppressed
all knowledge of this item and I doubt it still survives. I last saw and
heard it when I was 14, and even then Rod resisted me playing it. I think
he’d laugh about it now.
Once we’d discovered tuning, things
improved for us. We learned guitar and played together every day after
school. We learned power chords, and would strum for hours: I’d keep rhythm on an old crudely
miked-up Spanish guitar and Rod would play lead on his electric. I’d only known Rod for six months
when he asked me if I’d heard of
Jimi Hendrix. I hadn’t. So he
played me a cassette recording he’d taken off the radio (from Alan Freeman’s Radio 1 show, his favourite).
It sounded wild but astonishing. His parents happened to have an original
1966 single of ‘Hey Joe’, and we listened to it
endlessly. For Rod, even at this early age, listening to music was a
discipline as well as a pleasure, and we would discuss different aspects of
what we heard. His favourite Hendrix moment occurred a little way into the
live version of ‘Red House’ from ‘Hendrix in the West’, when Hendrix’s fingers seem to ice-skate
effortlessly and with perfect precision on one string. We used to try to
work out how it was done, and our admiration only grew when neither of us
could emulate it. By 14, Rod had mastered chords and was beginning to solo.
We discovered blues scales, and were soon inventing 30-minute wall-splashes
of sound with an old WEM Copycat and a Wah-Wah, all in moderately-tuned
form. But as Rod progressed, it became clear that his interest, and forte,
lay in technical mastery of the guitar. His style became efficient,
precise, stunningly quick, and quite unusual. We listened to a lot of blues
guitarists, amazed by lesser known virtuoso players like Tony McPhee of The
Groundhogs (Rod saw them live a few times) and Stan Webb of Chicken Shack.
But Rod’s tastes were widening – to Love, Spirit (‘Tampa Jam’, as well as ‘Sardonicus’), Zappa (at the time, he
thought the ‘Inca Roads’ solo equal to anything by
Hendrix), Hot Tuna, the Beatles, Santana and then, decisively, to The
Grateful Dead. I recall Rod coming back from Oxford with their double ‘Live’ LP, and playing ‘Dark Star’. What we heard was a new style – the bright, sharp, sparkling
sound of Jerry Garcia – and we
learned that the spaces, gaps and silences between the notes could be as
important as the notes themselves. But, though he listened widely and
intently, Rod’s own
guitar playing never became imitative; when he played, he sounded like no
one else. With the Dead, Rod looked to California. By now, he had a Cherry
Red Les Paul (inspired by the Groundhogs’ track) but he switched his Marshall stack (courtesy of
his dad) for a Mesa Boogie (again, thanks to his dad), and I suspect saw
the West Coast beckoning.
At 15, my family moved
away and our paths took different directions. We kept in touch, but with
nothing like the intense musical friendship we’d had before. Rod got into jazz,
especially John Coltrane, and joined an improvisation collective. He had
developed a rare, extraordinary and demanding talent as a guitar player. I
last saw him in the audience at a Steve Reich concert at the Sheldonian
Theatre, Oxford, before he left for the States. The move meant saying
goodbye to his parents. I know that Rod had a lot of affection for his
father. His relationship with his mother was more strained. But Rod valued
people. Friendship meant a great deal to him.
I received news of Rod’s death a day or so ago. His
loss, and manner of it, is a terrible shock and a tragedy. For those few
years in which I knew him, I am greatly in his debt. He gave me a musical
education at an early age, and showed me that music can be a serious and
determining, as well as immensely enriching, part of one’s life. And he did this, just as
he was discovering it for himself.
cliche as this sounds, it's difficult to find the words to adequately
express my thoughts and feelings as I write. I met Rod about six years ago
and had the pleasure and honor of being his friend and occasional musical
partner since we met. When I first heard him play I was amazed by Rod's
ideas, fluidity of technique, and musical presence. As I was soon to find
out, his passion in music was matched by his passion in life; his kindness
and generosity as a person was mirrored in his playing.
Rod's solo work was expressed
through a vocabulary that was immediately identifiable and uniquely his.
When playing with others, not unlike Derek Bailey though in a completely
different manner, his vocabulary lent itself to a spontaneity that enabled
him to communicate in the moment regardless of the number of players or the
kind of project and his integrity ensured that Rod's playing was distinctly
I had been anticipating
a warm reunion with Rod in a couple weeks, picking up where we left off
before I left for my first professor gig at Kent State: telling stories,
listening to music, possibly having a bite or a pint before we sat down to
do a bit more recording, in mono, because of the depth it gives Rod argued.
I had been looking forward to struggling with Rod through another round of
his interpretation of The Gold Ring (would we ever nail it the way we did
the first time we played?) and other traditional/sounding Irish tunes,
thinking about the state of affairs musical and political, and generally
enjoying his presence.
It's difficult to
imagine that I won't again have the pleasure of sharing a recording with
Rod where he again says: "No, I like it, that sounds good. But I can't
help but think that all would sound better on soprano."
Rod was one of those rare
people who listened to what one had to say, was as comfortable in agreement
as disagreement, and, while sure of his position, was open to thinking
about other possibilities. Two conversational themes that we returned to
over the years were questions about how to get more ears on Rod's work and
his place in musical communities (where did he fit?). On these counts, as
the thoughtful and heartfelt comments in this space show, his untimely
death is not only a tragedy but also an irony.
Rod, I miss you deeply
brother Gary, was a very close friend of Rods, and over the year’s in California (especially
Christmas holidays) he was a welcome guest over the years at family or
friends homes … and so I
got to hang out with him and his lovely wife Lisa.
I first met Rod back in
the 1970s in Oxford England before I moved out here to sunny CA.
I was in the music
business in those days (wasn’t everybody in England?) and a few years ago in LA …I had asked Rod as a favor …to clean up an old 45 record
single that I made called “Taking
England by Storm” (early
punk sound recorded in 1978) …Rod called me ….a couple of years later …and said “when do you want to pick up your record” Rod did an amazing job and even
made me sound like I have a great voice (very difficult to do).
Rod and I have always
had a good laugh about our different taste in music …and I would kid him about his
playing style … I would
ask him when he would finish tuning his guitar (way to intelligent for me)
but, I will always remember him as a quiet, intelligent, thoughtful
gentleman, who will be missed by all that knew him..
All the best friend.
the news a while back in the UK I just haven't been able to put into word
how I felt about the senseless loss of Rods life.
a founder member of the Oxford Improvisers CO-OP (OIC) in England
remember how his great shock of hair made him stand out, he was a sensitive
soul and sometimes a man of few words.
one of the youngest improvisers at that time but had an amazing ability to
play in a mature style.
remember a situation when we thought he was missing for a while but we
manage to get him to open his front door
said "cant play at the moment" I am looking after a few stray
played as a due for a couple of concerts and Michael Gerson who at that
time made recordings of the OIC
since sadly died, I have found out recently that the British
Sound Library are saving some of Mikes recordings in there archive.
cannot conceive how his wife must feel.
Rod he was a special spirit who knew what he had to do musically.
some talent is an option, Rod was driven like most of us, he had no choice
but to play his music.