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.