Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Jayne Rogovin, Veteran Nashville Publicist and Music Industry Insider, Dies

Posted By on Tue, Feb 14, 2012 at 12:24 AM

The profile photo on Jaynes Facebook page
  • The profile photo on Jayne's Facebook page
It's exactly a year ago today that I saw Jayne Rogovin — a veteran publicist who seemed to know just about every musician, journalist, manager and club owner in town — perform at a Valentine's Day event known as Love Is Deaf. Now an annual event, Love Is Deaf features musicians and their less musically gifted significant others performing duets.

With her boyfriend John McTigue on drums, Jayne did a version of The Beatles' "With a Little Help From My Friends." She had already been battling cancer for some time, and the song was the perfect shout-out to the community of friends that had embraced her throughout her fight. She strummed a few chords on an acoustic guitar at the beginning, but after struggling to hit the right chords, she gave up the guitar. Instead, she just belted out the song, vocal and drums, as chills went through the crowd. Midway through the song, she removed her wig to reveal her bald head, hairless from round after round of radiation and chemo. It was one of the most touching and electric moments I'd experienced seeing someone perform.

And that was Jayne. Bold, unafraid, open with her pain and struggles, unwilling to let a stupid disease cramp her style. (Shortly after that performance, a benefit show for Jayne at Cabana brought out movers and shakers like Steve Cropper, Raul Malo, Mandy Barnett, Foster & Lloyd, Jim Lauderdale and more. Read Kay West's touching story on the event here.)

Jayne died yesterday evening.

I'd known Jayne for many years, and the evolution of our friendship is kind of amusing when I look back on it. In the first couple of years we knew each other, to be frank, an email or call from Jayne would trigger a bit of anxiety. After all, I was a journalist, and she was a tenacious publicist, so intent on helping out the artists, events and organizations she represented that I knew she wasn't going to give up until she made the absolute best case why the Scene should cover her clients.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Services for Vic Varallo, Former Councilman, Today at 2 p.m.

Posted By on Tue, Nov 29, 2011 at 9:21 AM

Vic Varallo, the longtime local high school sports coach who also served on the Metro Council from 1991-1999, died Friday night in Gallatin at age 89. From The City Paper:

Born Angelo Vic Varallo on April 11, 1922, to parents J.B. and Catherine Varallo, Vic attended Holy Name Catholic School in East Nashville and Father Ryan High School. He began college at Ole Miss where he played both football and basketball. But World War II intervened and he found himself in the Pacific theatre from 1942 to 1945, assigned to be an aerial gunner in the back of a B-25. He was shot down twice and received four different medals for his service, including the American Campaign medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.

He resumed his studies at what is now known as Middle Tennessee State University following the war and again played multiple sports, captaining the football team. After graduation, he was recalled to service to become part of the 306th Air Base Group during the Korean War.

Following his discharge, Varallo found his calling. He became a teacher at East High School and for more than two decades became a force in prep track and field as a coach. Along with Edgar Allen, he started the Banner Relays, for decades one of the most elite track events in the state. His teams won the Banner and Optimist Relays and twice won state championships. He also taught at Pearl, Hillsboro, Dupont, Hunters Lane and Overton high schools before he retired in the early 1990s. He was also a successful football and basketball coach and was inducted into the TSSAA Hall of Fame in 2005.

Memorial services will be held at 2 p.m. today in the chapel at Spring Hill Funeral Home, 5110 Gallatin Pk., followed by internment with military honors at Spring Hill Cemetery.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Joey Bowker, the Bat Poet, Dies at 59: The Dark Knight Recedes

Posted By on Sun, Oct 23, 2011 at 8:00 PM

With the death over the weekend of Joey Bowker — the enigmatic public-access zany known far and wide as The Bat Poet — Nashville loses a one-man resistance movement against all that is slick, soulless and done for the money.

Bowker, 59, presided over one of the weirdest spectacles in the history of Nashville TV programming: a fleabag variety show featuring hand puppets, stuffed-animal warfare, wrestling matches, and local celebrity cameos ranging from attorney Bart Durham to country warbler Miss Melba Toast. These were embellished with crude first-generation video effects and supported by plotlines that could only be followed by kids and the deeply, irretrievably stoned.

But the man in the $62 Batman mask (purchased in 1992 from Spencer's Gifts in Hickory Hollow) had a loyal fan base that included musicians, politicians, wiseguy teens, college kids, and anyone else likely to be home, bored and curious on a Friday or Saturday night, when his shows aired on NECAT Channel 19 (as they have, off and on, since the show debuted in 1995). His notoriety was sometimes regarded as a mixed blessing at a public-access station trying to cultivate an air of professionalism. But there is too much dull proficiency in the world as it is, while there was only one Bat Poet.

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Remembering Rebecca Bain, Longtime Host of WPLN's The Fine Print

Posted By on Mon, Oct 17, 2011 at 12:49 AM

All weekend long on Legislative Plaza, the Southern Festival of Books appeared to be breaking attendance records, drawing crowds for authors ranging from Clyde Edgerton and Ann Patchett to Tayari Jones and Justin Torres. But at a time when Nashville was turning out in force to celebrate the written word, there was one person whose absence was sadly noted.

Rebecca Bain, the longtime host of WPLN's literary talk show The Fine Print and a local public-radio staffer for three decades, died Saturday in hospice care of what friends described as systemic failure. She was 58.

On the air, Bain came across like a favorite aunt, fussing over every guest and taking care to show she'd given their work a close read. Off the air, she was saltier, funnier and more opinionated than she allowed herself to be as a host. (Just one example: She delighted in keeping a list and checking it twice of sick, sick Christmas movies.) Yet no matter how dry the subject, for the duration of each author's slot, Bain made them feel like the most scintillating person alive.

And people noticed — not just listeners and authors, but publishers and publicists. A touring writer's representative told the Scene many years ago that an appearance on Bain's show was a huge help in breaking new talent, and that she could increase an author's sales by thousands.

When the show ended, the city lost a major supporter of its literary community. As WPLN colleague Nina Cardona noted in a remembrance:

You could tell Rebecca knew each book inside and out. And sometimes, like in this interview with Bobbie Ann Mason, the result was a conversation that could have been between a pair of old friends.

“Writing this book in which my mother is really the hero of the story, it’s not enough.”
“No, I see why you say it’s not enough. But it’s a lot.”

By the end of her time at the station, Rebecca had a reputation among publicists as not just the kind of interviewer you want to try to schedule if your author happens to be in Nashville, but the kind of interviewer that was sometimes the primary reason for making a swing through the city.

A memorial service is planned for Thursday. We'll pass along details as they're made available. In the meantime, we offer her family, friends and colleagues our condolences.

UPDATE, 11:57 a.m. 10/17: Rebecca Bain's memorial service will be noon Thursday, Oct. 20 at the Downtown Presbyterian Church, 154 5th Avenue North, Nashville. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Book'em children’s literacy organization, 161 Rains Ave., Nashville, TN 37203 or the charity of your choice. Many thanks to Galyn Glick Martin for the information.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Remembering Minda Lazarov, Bells Bend Advocate and Devoted Community Activist

Posted By on Mon, Oct 10, 2011 at 3:55 PM

“Decisions are made by those who show up,” President Jed Bartlet tells some college students in a West Wing episode. Well, so are communities. And for her community of Scottsboro-Bells Bend, Minda Lazarov always showed up.

Lazarov, 56, who died Oct. 6 at her Nashville home, showed up for the dozens of public meetings — and many more private ones — on the future of Scottsboro-Bells Bend. She was a driving force behind the movement to preserve the area’s rural character. She pushed hard to develop a positive vision for the community and secured funding to publish the results. And she did so despite a long, courageous and clear-eyed fight against cancer, which she battled for much of her life.

She organized a trip to upstate New York to explore public/private preservation strategies for the Adirondacks and the agricultural lands of the Hudson Valley, and got Metro planners and greenways officials to go along. And Lazarov was unrelenting in her resistance to the mega-development known as May Town Center planned for Bells Band.

“When May Town was first proposed, I was looking for a way to compromise,” says Scottsboro resident Keith Loiseau. “But not Minda. She had the greater vision of what Scottsboro could and should be, not just for the residents, but for all of Nashville. She realized that having an area so close to town still devoted to agricultural uses, offering great natural and cultural resources and recreation opportunities, makes the city unique.”

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

RIP Wade Belak

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2011 at 5:48 PM


Recently retired Nashville Predators tough guy Wade Belak was found dead in a Toronto condo this afternoon.

Belak, 35, retired mid-season last year and transitioned smoothly into the Preds radio booth. He was the perfect ambassador for the team, as lovable and friendly off the ice as he was pugilistic on it.

He was a fun-loving guy, always with a smile on his face. He was a father of two. And a volunteer firefighter. And a tattoo enthusiast.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Music Industry Veteran Frank Dileo, Dead at 63

Posted By on Wed, Aug 24, 2011 at 12:16 PM

Longtime music industry veteran Frank Dileo, who managed Michael Jackson for much of his ’80s heyday and again during the last months of Jackson's life, died at his home in eastern Ohio at age 63, after a long illness. We just heard the news from a family friend, who said she thinks Dileo passed this morning, though the exact time hasn't been verified.

Dileo was the subject of a November 2007 Scene cover piece outlining his storied career. And we mean storied. He worked his way up from the bottom of the music industry to become one of the most powerful men in the biz. During his tenure at Epic Records, he was instrumental in signing or developing the careers of Culture Club, Cyndi Lauper, REO Speedwagon, Quiet Riot, The Clash and of course Jackson. Dileo lived in Nashville briefly in the ’70s and then moved here in January 2007 to start a management business, though he spent much of the last three years in Los Angeles after returning as Jackson's manager, and then handling issues with the late pop singer's estate.

His larger-than-life persona landed him a couple of movie roles, most famously as Tuddy Cicero in Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas. Not only did he play the brother to Mafia boss Paulie Cicero, but he was responsible for one of the most legendary mob hits in cinema history, putting a bullet in the back of Joe Pesci's head in the film's climactic scene.

An excerpt from the Scene story, about Dileo's ever-present cigar:

There’s speculation that when he emerged from the womb, 60 years ago last month, Frank Dileo already had a cigar in his mouth. Look at the pictures on his office walls and in his photo albums, and more often than not he’s either holding or chomping on a fat, unlit stogie.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Steve Popovich, Dead at 68

Posted By on Wed, Jun 8, 2011 at 10:49 PM

Steve Popovich with his son Steve Jr.
  • C.J. Flanagan
  • Steve Popovich with his son Steve Jr.
Storied music industry executive Steve Popovich died this morning in his Murfreesboro apartment. He was 68 years old.

He was both an industry insider and outsider, working at major labels — at one time or another he was a VP at Columbia, Epic and Polygram Nashville — but also founding Cleveland International Records, where he achieved his greatest fame for putting out Meat Loaf's seminal album Bat Out of Hell. He also was a key player in the careers of Cheap Trick, Ted Nugent, The Jackson 5 and Boston, to name a few.

He was a tireless music lover who frequently championed lesser-known artists who didn't fit any molds: acts like David Allen Coe, Chas and Dave, the Singing Nuns and a number of luminaries from the polka world — Frankie Yankovic, Eddie Blazonczyk and Brave Combo. In fact, in 1997 he was inducted into the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of fame, and from the little I know about Steve Popovich, it was probably one of his proudest moments.

About a year ago, I was in the Green Hills Whole Foods when I saw a 60-something guy pushing a grocery cart. He was wearing a Cleveland Indians cap, and had that unmistakable, no-nonsense, Cleveland-working-class vibe. I can't say he exactly resembled the late Harvey Pekar, but he had that same Rust Belt demeanor — it's hard to articulate, but you know it when you see it (particularly if, like me, you grew up in Cleveland).

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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Statement From the Family of Rick Lester, Worker Killed in Gallatin Factory Fire

Posted By on Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 5:32 PM

Rick Lester is the second worker to die as a result of injuries sustained in the fire at the Hoeganaes Corp. facility in Gallatin last Friday. Lester passed away at 8:30 this morning. This afternoon his family released this statement:

Our family appreciates the overwhelming amount of support we have seen from the community during this difficult time. Rick meant the world to his wife of 35 years and his two children, and he will be missed by the many whose lives he touched. We are unwilling to do any interviews or make any comments at this time, and we request that the media please respect our family's privacy.

A representative for the family said that no funeral arrangements have yet been made.

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Monday, April 4, 2011

Ned Ray McWherter, 1930-2011

Posted By on Mon, Apr 4, 2011 at 3:24 PM

Former Gov. Ned Ray McWherter, the sharecropper's son who rose to the heights of political power in Tennessee and became one of the state's most popular lawmakers, has died. He was 80. Jeff Woods has details in the City Paper:

A leader of the cabal of rural West Tennessee Democrats who dominated the legislature for decades, McWherter was elected the 46th governor of Tennessee in 1986 after serving 14 years as Speaker of the House. ...

As governor for eight years, McWherter reigned over a legislature with lopsided Democratic majorities and routinely won approval of his initiatives with ease.

He enacted the 21st Century Schools education reform program to increase and more fairly distribute school funding across the state. He replaced Medicaid with TennCare, an expanded health insurance program for the poor. TennCare later came under criticism as wasteful and was dismantled but, in McWherter’s time, it was hailed as a model for states trying to provide universal health care.

Under McWherter, Tennessee twice was ranked as the nation’s best fiscally managed state.

McWherter was elected to the state House in 1968. He was elected speaker after only two terms. He helped write the state’s “Sunshine Law” that eventually brought open meetings to the legislature. At that time, he was the longest-serving speaker in state history.

More details as they become available.

UPDATE, 3:43 p.m.: Former U.S. Sen. Harlan Mathews, McWherter's former deputy governor, later appointed by McWherter to fill the seat of newly elected Vice President Al Gore: "I am at a loss for words. Here is a man that gave his entire life for his state, to make it a better place to live. Tennessee has lost the best friend it ever had."

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