R.I.P. William Garvey

My friend passed on last night. It was an ongoing struggle the past year, but I’m glad we had some fun in these last months and he’s finally at peace. One of the smartest men I ever knew.

Many people are familiar with his song that he wrote, performed, and initially had done vocals on: “Goodbye Horses”.


Us at my 30th birthday party.


His prints I bought when we first met. We later did a small two-person show together.

After moving from Los Angeles to Cleveland how funny was it to randomly meet him at a bar and of course, his introduction to me was that he wrote and performed that song. Trust me, he’d tell anyone and everyone that was his song, but at the time not many people cared as much as they would later thanks to various covers and Grand Theft Auto. But, oh how excited I was! He explained to me why the song wasn’t on the soundtrack — I mentioned I had tried to find it when the film came out — and how he had plans for other music projects now that he could release anything he wanted online. I wasn’t from Ohio and only at this point knew a small group of people. I had fled Los Angeles in almost the same manner he had fled both and NYC Los Angeles (he lasted one year and could not stand that there were no seasons, and going back to NYC under the George W. Bush administration he said everything that made NYC great was “dead dead dead”). Although he loved living in London for a time, he felt a duty to return home to take care of his mother. Like mother like son; she was neighbors with Eric Carmen of The Raspberries and would always throw shade at him anytime they crossed paths that “my Billy had a song in the movie that won a best picture Oscar” and that Dirty Dancing did not, “oh Eric, didn’t you have something in a movie nominated too? Well there’s always next year.” (That song was Hungry Eyes btw).

We bonded over every fashion, film, art, literature subject you could think of and he said he was glad to meet someone who could talk as fast as him. Over the years we became close. He collected my art, we’d talk for hours, drink and see movies together. He’d photograph me a lot because he thought I looked like Isabella Rosellini (I have no idea why). Even when he was in hospice — which he beat — we’d have “Karl Lagerfeld dance parties” in his room to the amazement of the nursing staff. Things got even better after that when he moved in down the street from me.

Since he left us, his best friend Veronica, who also recorded with him under the name Skin, has now become one of my dearest friends. I’m thankful for that in the wake of his passing. There are early 1980s demos that will be released at some point I’m sure. Veronica still has the original synth that “Goodbye Horses” was made with. To be honest, it’s really hard for me to hear that song, now.

53 thoughts on “R.I.P. William Garvey”

    1. Thank you, I’m hoping they can do the article anyways. It is about the song and its role in pop culture. He used to work in fashion so he would have so loved to appear in “V”. We had a Karl Lagerfeld dance party in his room at hospice one time, if that gives you any indication!

      1. Hi Arabella. I know that Bill has been passed for sometime, Im sorry he is gone. I am a wine maker in Virginia and I was hoping to name one of my wines ‘Goodbye Horses’ and wondered if you knew anything regarding the legalities of that. Thanks for your help, btw your art is wonderful.

  1. William Garvey and I spoke numerous times over the phone when I was working at MGM Music and I would always prepare his music royalty checks to send him. He was such an amazing soul. May he rest in paradise! I just now looked at my contacts and tried to look him up and found a site that he has passed. My profoundest condolences to his family. We will miss you!

  2. Arabella, who was William? Gould you Tell something about bis biography? Nothing is known…

    1. Well, he was born and raised in the Cleveland area, went to Brunswick High School which wasn’t all too fun for him. His father was English and died of a heart attack very young too. Bill lived and worked in NYC for many years for Donna Karan, Nautica, and Armani in-between doing his music. He moved to London and was happy there until his mother broke her hip and developed dementia, so he had to come back to Cleveland to take care of her. After she passed (which was very difficult for him), he went back to NYC, and hated it. He did a stint in L.A. working for the Hollywood Reporter but he hated L.A. too. When his health began to deteriorate, he came back to Cleveland again and began doing more music as well as various remixes of “Goodbye Horses”. He was one of the smartest and boisterous people I ever knew; a film buff with a subscriptions to Scientific American and W Magazine. Anywhere he went he’d make friends immediately. I certainly couldn’t go anywhere with him without someone walking up and introducing themselves because he was so loud and funny and opinionated — most people wanted to know, “who IS this guy?”. He was also a great photographer and designer. I think he was one of the 1st wave of people to own a Macintosh too. I met him after buying a couple of his prints when I first moved to Cleveland, and then we did a two-person show together. I miss him.

      1. I knew Bill in NYC in the 80s. I worked with him at Conran’s, sang in his bands, “Cottage” and “Fractals,” and also did backup for Q Lazzaras. I still have practice and demo tapes we recorded together! He was an amazing person. So talented, genuine, funny, energetic. I had tried many times over the years to find him through social media but only today was able to find him…too late to let him know he always meant a great deal to me. I’m proud to have known him and so blessed to have experienced his genius, musically and otherwise. The fact that you mentioned his subscription to Scientific American makes me smile. We did a song together that he wrote called “I Am A Particle Physicist.”

      2. I’m sorry to here this and after so many years. We were friends when we were 6 thru 12 years old. We went to Applewood elementary. I remember when his father passed it was very sad. It was the first time I knew of anyone who had lost a parent & a few years later I lost my Dad. I’d like to know more about Will. That’s what we called him Will

  3. Thank you for sharing These thoughts.
    You know, i am far away from reducing a Person to a Single Song he wrote More than 20 years ago, but i must Tell you this Story: last week we had this big Fashion Show in Berlin called bread and Butter. In the evening they had all the Stores open in one Area as showroams. And after the Police Turned down the Music at ten and went around the Corner, the DJ just turned the Decks on again and all of a sudden played goodbye horses. And the crowd was so happy and began to sing , simply everybody knew the Song… Did you know that IT is such a hymn. I mean IT could be if you say that Bill was reknown in the Scene. How old was he? Did they publish the Story about Track? IT would be amazing to learn how IT was created… Cheers.

    1. Bill had it played at his own memorial. It was stipulated in his will. Of course now I hate hearing it!
      It has been used on so many film/TV/videos games, it’s how he made his living almost. He was so funny and vicious sometimes, he would write to bands covering it, and tell them how they got the lyrics wrong. He was 51 when he died.

      1. Hi Joe, he was cremated at a place on the eastside of Cleveland. Truthfully I was appalled at the service that was given, it really depressed me and several of us who knew him well.

      2. Yes, he corrected me, and we re-recorded it since I sang lying instead of flying over you originally. This song has brought me so much, I wish I’d had known him better than just one e-mail. He did tell me how he recorded the guitar, that it was an Ibanez with a tremolo. Since 1995 “Goodbye Horses” is a permanent fixture of Psyche’s live set. Thanks for sharing more about William as you have on your blog.

  4. I had a brief e-mail contact with Mr. Garvey after my band Psyche covered the song. He was actually quite nice and told me details about how he got the guitar sound which i thought was a piano at the time! I originally got the lyrics wrong, and sang lying over you instead of flying. I was ashamed to have misinterpreted that word, and have since re-recorded “Goodbye Horses” as a 21st century version with the correct lyrics. There’s been a surge in covers lately, but I think very few truly treat his words with the proper understanding. I am grateful to say the song remains a permanent part of my repertoire. It is a truly magical piece.

  5. I sang with Bill in his band Cottage, which he started in the early 80’s. He was writing a lot of songs about particle physics then – heavily synthesized dance tracks with some French horn added to the mix. He was an amazing dancer – very inventive and joyful – one of my all-time favorite club/party partners. He was just as big a fan of Patti Smith as I was, and once Cottage broke up, he launched another band called Patti in the Ambulance, which was a reference to her dreadful accident in Florida. “Goodbye Horses” was also a reference to Patti, as her album “Horses” was profoundly important to him.
    He was funny as hell, you know. So smart, so wild, so curious about so many things. And so much style. I can still see him showing up for dinner at a four-star restaurant on the Upper East Side wearing a black jacket that opened to reveal pages from the NY TImes Arts & Leisure section taped all over his t-shirt. It was a last minute invitation, and he didn’t have anything else to wear, he explained. Of course.
    I hate that he’s dead.

      1. Dan, there was a lot recorded that I have on cassette demo tapes. I’ve been wondering about what to do with them, as I’m not sure anyone else has access/rights to this music. I will have to keep you posted.

    1. Joan, I was in Cottage after you and I have several practice tapes as well. Some have you as the lead. I also have several demos, a few with Q. I was so sad to finally come across information today and learned that he passed. I had wanted to get back in contact with him after I left NY. I think of him so often and feel pretty blessed that I had a chance to know him for a while.

      1. Deb – I’m sorry we never met. When was the last time you spoke to Bill?

  6. I’m sorry to read that he has passed on. As so many other people I first heard his name in relation to the “Goodbye Horses”-song. It would be nice if someone who really knew him would fill in some details in the Wikipedia article about him. From what I have managed to find on the internet, bits and pieces, he seemed to be a nice guy. It just puzzles me; Why did he not become more of a celebrity when it came to music ? Well, I guess I’ll never find out who he really was.

    1. I met Bill in the East Village in 1992 when I was 13. He would have after-parties in his all white studio apartment over looking Tompkins Square Park. Groups of us would go to his place around 4:30am after the bars closed and then the fun would start! He was of course DJing, adjusting the lighting and pouring Vodka (his favorite drink was Stoli and Water.) People (including myself) were magnetized to Bill. Years later he would become my roommate in Brooklyn and again in LA. We worked on music together and he was always excited to be making music. he was instrumental in me believing in my own talent and pursuing my dreams. I loved him very much and he was the first positive older gay male role model in my life. He made anything fun. Anything. What I didn’t realize at the time was that Bill (and myself) was an alcoholic. That, coupled with major mood swings, made life extremely difficult for Bill, and I suspect is why he never became more successful. Alcoholism claims the careers and lives of many talented passionate artists, and unfortunately I imagine it eventually played a major role in his heart failure. He told me many times that his doctors were surprised he was alive, given his heart and lifestyle. I know for sure he was alive because of his intense Spirit and passion for life. He shaped me in many ways and I am grateful to have known him as a friend, a fellow musician and artist. I know he is having a big after-party in heaven and I hope I am on the guest list when I get there!

  7. Is someone able to officially add the lyrics to the Wikipedia article, or simply post them here? It would be nice to have a place where the buck stops regarding lyrics.

  8. Joan, I believe we were last in contact shortly after I moved back to MN which was late 80s. Something Wild came out the year my daughter was born and Q Lazzaras was on the soundtrack singing one of the songs we did together. I remember being sad I hadn’t been there to enjoy Bill’s success as well as be part of it.

    I’ve often also looked for Glenn John and Ron Resignio. I assume they were in Cottage originally with you as well. I joined up with Glenn for a while in a band called Jumble also.

    I was reminding my husband of some of the stories I had shared with him about my time in NY and Bill this evening. I had to laugh remembering him dressed either in all white or all black, always with the big messenger bag. We would be walking around the city and he would spontaneously imitate someone on an acid high…sort of a rubber man thing. Going to a small Latin restaurant and ordering gaspaaahhcho as only Bill could. I have missed him for many, many years, but I have kept the memories very close. I take the tapes out from time to time and relive a time in my life that was exciting, adventurous, and inspiring…all orchestrated by Bill!

  9. Love the song Goodbye Horses. I listen to it everyday. How wonderfully talented you were RIP.

  10. A movie should be made of his life so that everyone can enjoy knowing who he was!

  11. Would love to know a bit more about his work with Q. Who was she? What ever became of her? Did they continue working together after Goodbye Horses? I’ve always been a great fan, but there’s just no information out there.

    1. Hi John,
      Q and Bill had a falling out that went back and forth when it came to C&D orders that never happened and other spats since she didn’t technically write anything and did just the vocals. I can’t remember if he gave her the stage name or not. When the song had a resurgence and he did remixes, she never contacted him, and he told me that he was pretty certain she must have died (that was in 2006/7).

    1. I knew bill in cleveland in 1997 and 1998. Used to han out in his upstairs apartment on coventry late at night. Met him originally because my coworker at record exchange and i were at a show at the grog shop (offhand i’d say dirty 3 or sonic boom’s e.a.r)) and he came over to tell us we were the most ( and only)fabulous people in there. Naturally. Just tried to reach out cos bowie died and found this. So very sad. I wish i’d tried harder to find him earlier. Sleep well, bill. I wish i believed he’s hanging out with bowie and lou reed and warhol and basquiat in some trashy afterparty in a bowery loft. Doing poppers. That would be his heaven. He tried to help with my music career. I’ll write a song about it.

      1. I spent many many nights and days in that apartment on Coventry. I think about Bill almost every day when I make my kids toast with cream cheese and jam. I used to devour every bagel in his fridge and he would always slather them with cream cheese and jam. I miss him a ton.

  12. Hi Arabella, very pleased! I fell in love with the song ” Goodbye horses ” and I did not know about the story of William Garvey, I found out shortly after I went to research on google about that person and especially about the mysterious ” Q Lazzarus ” Would you my dear Arabella tell me if she is still alive? I watched the movie ” The Silence of the lambs ” and it was there that I met William Garvey’s song and it touched my soul very deeply, I can not explain ..
    A big kiss to you
    Ass: The Truth

  13. Hello, I have a question and I think that you can answer it. I was looking for information about “Goodbye Horses”, from Q Lazzarus. There is no much information from her. My curiosity is about that “mysterious” singer, William ever speak you of her? Is William who does the main vocals in the song?

    1. Yes. Those are the demos. They’ve been remixed, but that’s what we did way back when. I hadn’t heard these songs in quite some time. Thanks for finding them on YouTube. I need to look for the Garvey mixes!

  14. Thank you so very much for sharing this. It’s seems like finding any info online regarding your friend. I always liked his song, and I’m very interested in exploring more of his art.

  15. Hi… I’ve just come across your little article about your friend William. I was looking for more song’s of his cause I bloody love that Goodbye Horses one he wrote. Sorry for your loss. Lovely word’s from you about him. Take care x

  16. @Sebastian Zutant: if you do sell a wine with the label “Goodbye Horses” PLEASE please please post the URL here in this thread and I will buy a half dozen bottles for my friends that love the song!

    1. Adding checkbox to get notified of new comments so if you announce the new label wine I can jump on it!

  17. The song Goodbye Horses is so very beautiful. I’ve been listening to it over and over and over. And over. Im sorry you lost your friend years ago. I wish for he and “Q” to know that it will forever be so meaningful to so many of us.

  18. Goodbye Horses has an amazingly iconic sound! It’s instantly recognizable. I’ve often wondered exactly what equipment was used on the recording (e.g., the original synth mentioned above). Any chance of posting those details here?

  19. Just here to thank all the contributors of comments to this page. Love the music, and I’ve been fascinated by the mysteries and personae of William Garvey and Q Lazzarus for some time, now. The song, the song! Never realized that it had to do with the Bhagavad Gita. And the connection to Patti Smith’s “Horses”: an album woven into my life since I first heard it blasting from someone’s speakers back in 1975.

    Thank you all, and stay healthy! — A

  20. Hello All. I know Bill had a Casio CZ101. Pretty sure that’s what he used for Goodbye Horses. He also played single notes on the guitar with delay effect. We hung around in Manhattan and recorded some Music together in the mid 90s.Yes he was brilliant, fun and at times brutally honest. One of my fondest memories is one of the many nights we drank and went wilding in the streets. This particular time we were in a celebratory mood.It was after completing a recording. Bill picked up a used bra from the street, put it on over his leather jacket, and danced with a very large woman with cowboy attire at Doc Holidays on Avenue A. He was so much fun. Miss you my friend!

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