RIP Billy Ruane
October 27, 2010 4:27 PM   Subscribe

Billy Ruane was a fixture in the whirl/world of Cambridge and Boston music in the early eighties. Billy Ruane lived widely and wildly in the Cambridge/Boston from the 1980's till now. Most who encountered him came away with stories to tell. Interesting ones. Music was his absolute passion. He had more records than anyone. One Christmas he proudly declared that he had bought the same Slim Whitman Anthology for everyone on his list. (My roommate was sitting beside him on the train from NY to Boston and so captive to such information.)
posted by emhutchinson (10 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Truly one of a kind.

posted by Ink-stained wretch at 4:43 PM on October 27, 2010

I thought about doing a Billy Ruane FPP, but the man has such an exhaustive legacy that it would take me two weeks to assemble. But here's a great tribute by Matador/Homestead majordomo Gerard Cosloy (with first comment by Steve Albini).

posted by mykescipark at 4:47 PM on October 27, 2010

More Steve Albini:
This makes me really sad. Billy was the single most enthusiastic music fan I've ever met. He was unfailingly ecstatic in the company of musicians and his wild-eyed dancing and carrying-on were infectious and made every evening an event. Having Billy Ruane in the crowd made every band feel like they played the set of a lifetime.

Nobody who ever dealt with Billy Ruane will ever forget him. The world just got duller, less joyful and a little more square.
posted by dhammond at 5:05 PM on October 27, 2010

I was going to say that I first encountered Billy Ruane at the Harvard Freshman Union in 1982, at a gig by Human Sexual Response but Dean Wareham beat me to it.

I didn't really know him, but the depth of his passion for music and his infectious enthusiasm always delighted me. It's a shame the world lost him so (relatively) young.

posted by Sidhedevil at 5:22 PM on October 27, 2010

I didn't really know him, either, but he did put his head in my lap apropos of nothing back in 1982 while I sat on a bench by the Charles River. Then he said something like "Why did my parents have to make me take all those drugs?" It was Ritalin mainly, but his ensuing pain, mitigated greatly by music made me think long and hard for years to come about a lot of things.

I called him a "fixture"; that was wrong. He more like drifted in and out, always ready to dance and often drunk or something else beyond what my preformed brain could parse. Still his tenderness and love of--I don't know what to call it--melody, harmony, discordance, noise, disruption, happiness all at the same time, if you please-- shone through. He was ever authentic.

One of the first four CDs my husband bought was by the Blake Babies (Sunburn?) with Billy listed in the "Thank You" section. Billy always professed love for Juliana Hatfield. I remember telling my husband, "That's the guy I told you about, you know, 'I'm gonna dance to keep from crying'?"

I'm sorry my post was so thin. I just wanted to acknowledge the all-too-early going of someone who was not just something of a caricature or legendary character but who also meant so much to people like me who barely knew him. (He did say "I love you" to me once or twice, but I have lots of grains of salt lying around, and truly I barely knew him.)
posted by emhutchinson at 6:00 PM on October 27, 2010

I met him once in a context that had nothing to do with music. He was larger-than-life, friendly, and odd enough that I googled him when I got home and remember him to this day. It's sad that he's gone.

posted by alms at 6:26 PM on October 27, 2010

Video of Varsity Drag performing their song, "Billy Ruane" (lyrics).
posted by adamg at 7:12 PM on October 27, 2010

Oh, shit. I knew Billy more than 15 years ago, and I was just wondering about him yesterday.
Thanks for the beers, Billy.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 11:54 PM on October 27, 2010

Never heard of him before tonight. West coast, different country. Thanks for the post.
posted by seagull.apollo at 12:04 AM on October 28, 2010

I feel weird for commenting because I don't have a Billy Ruane story. I spent a couple years in Boston in the late 80s, and I probably crossed paths with him and his trenchcoat, but that's about it.

Boston was the first big city I spent any time in. I quickly took it for granted that any city with a large enough college population has massive music scenes, with bands playing in clubs, bars, cafes, street corners, on boats, in donut shops, and every other damn place with a power outlet and room for a drum kit.

Now that I've traveled a little more, and I've seen a lot of places have bands playing every night, but that extra step where music is ubiquitous seems only to happen where cities have superfans like Billy. Rest in peace, guy, from an unknowing beneficiary.
posted by ardgedee at 5:44 PM on October 28, 2010

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