1989

As everyone knows, Rob Buck passed away on December 19, 2000. Rob's exquisite and distintive guitar playing defined the sound of the Maniacs and he wrote some of the band's best songs. We never met him but everyone says he was a great guy as well.

The members of 10,000 Maniacs have established a scholarship fund in Rob's memory. The fund was set up via the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation. If you would like to contribute, please visit the 'Gotta Buck' web site.

Below you will find some articles about Rob.

Jamestown Post-Journal

10,000 Maniacs Lead Guitarist Rob Buck Dies
By BOB HOUSTON
12-21-00

Rob Buck, lead guitarist for the 10,000 Maniacs, died Tuesday in Pittsburgh of complications from liver failure. He was 42.

Buck had been in the hospital for about three weeks, undergoing a wide range of treatments, according to his stepfather, Ray Syper, who spoke with The Post-Journal Wednesday afternoon from the Lind Funeral Home in Jamestown.

"Rob hadnít been feeling good for the last week or so before he really took ill," Syper said. "He hadnít felt good for the past couple of years, but didnít seek proper medical treatment."

The evening Rob fell seriously ill, he was taken to WCA Hospital, where doctors immediately sent him to University of Pittsburgh Medical Centerís "liver treatment unit, because they are the only place" for the kind of treatment Rob needed, Syper said.

"We had hopes for the first week and a half that Rob was in the hospital," Syper said, "but then he deteriorated from there."

Syper said Robís death at 5 p.m. Tuesday "was not unexpected. After a couple of weeks, we realized he wasnít going to recover from this, although the hospital did everything they possibly could. Itís unbelievable ó he had every treatment possible."

Robís fellow band members gave Syper and his wife, Carol, Robís mother "a lot of support," Syper said.

"Theyíve been wonderful. Without their help, we couldnít have made it."

The community at large also offered "overwhelming support," Syper said.

"We received so many inquiries about Rob and his condition that we almost had to put a security clamp on it, because the hospital got jammed up with telephone calls," he said. "We sure appreciated it, though, even though we couldnít give out a lot of information at the time, because the hospital was getting jammed up with calls. I felt bad that we couldnít give out more information, but that was the reason for it."

Syper said he expects "quite a crowd" at Robís funeral on Saturday.

"Iím not sure how many are coming from out of town, but Rob was very, very popular," he said.

Syper said "a lot of photos and memorabilia" will be displayed at the Lind Funeral Home, which is in charge of the funeral.

Dennis Drew, keyboardist with the band, said, "This is a great loss, a terrible tragedy."

Drew said Wednesday he had no further comment on his friendís death.

"Iím not ready to say anything yet," he said. "Iím going to the funeral home to be with his mom and dad."

Rob was born Robert Norman Buck on Aug. 1, 1958, in Jamestown. He started playing guitar at the age of 6 and decided to become a professional guitarist at 16 after seeing The Jimi Hendrix Story, according to the Associated Press.

Buck formed 10,000 Maniacs with Drew, Steven Gustafson, John Lombardo and Natalie Merchant in 1981, with the band picking its name for its shock value from the 1964 horror film 2,000 Maniacs.

Buck wrote the music for some of the bandís best-known hits, including Hey Jack Kerouac, and Whatís The Matter Here?

Merchant left the band in 1993 for a solo career and was replaced by Mary Ramsey.

Buck and the band last performed Nov. 6 at a rally for Hillary Rodham Clinton at Buffalo State College.

Jamestown Post-Journal

Musicians, Fans Mourn Death
By JOHN WHITTAKER
12-21-00

Music fans and musicians expressed shock as news of 10,000 Maniacsí lead guitarist Rob Buckís death spread through the city Wednesday.

Jeff Erickson of local band Zeta Cauliflower was Buckís guitar technician for three years and spent a lot of time with the guitarist.

"He was a very close friend," Erickson said. "Itís kind of a shock still. I loved him very much and I miss him a lot. He did a tremendous amount of stuff for me and he was a big influence on my life. I miss him terribly."

Don Mitchell, a member of the local band, Five Cubic Feet, said playing with Buck on stage was one of the highlights of his professional career. Buck had attended a performance of the band, not expecting to be called up on stage, Mitchell said.

"His death is a tragic loss to Jamestown," Mitchell said. "I never got the chance to work with him on any project other than on stage. He came to see a couple of gigs and we brought him up and just played off the cuff."

Mitchell said there was more to understanding Rob Buck than listening to his music.

"Iíd been to his house and just had a lot of fun," Mitchell said. "He was more than a musician. He was an interesting personality to be around. Rob was somewhat shy in his own personal life but then he could get up on stage and do that."

Vicky Boughton was the head of the Jamestown Community College radio station in the mid-1980s when the Maniacs band were still working to get its first major record deal. The band played many concerts at the college.

Mrs. Boughton got to know Buck while living with former Maniacsí lead singer Natalie Merchant in her motherís duplex. Ms. Merchant was dating Buck during the bandís early years and Mrs. Boughton said she spent quite a bit of time around them.

"I just feel awful about it because he was a great guy and a really talented musician," Mrs. Boughton said. "Rob was a dynamic guitarist with a great deal of talent. He was way too young. I'm glad he didn't have to suffer any further. I pray heís in a better place. I pray heís in heaven and still playing guitar."

Late Tuesday night, messages began appearing on the bandís Web site.

Martin Augustyniak, father of Maniacsí drummer Jerome Augustyniak, posted a message expressing his condolences to Buckís family.

"On behalf of the Augustyniak family I would like to express our condolences to Robís family. I grew up watching him play. He was a great talent and a wonderful person."

"On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame and my band, Leeron Zydeco and the Hot Tamales, we are sorry to hear of the passing of Rob," Gus Russo wrote. "It is moments like these that make one pause and reflect on oneís life in art. And surely, let us take a precious moment this upcoming Holyday (sic) and reflect on Rob Buck and his artistry."

Local music fan Brandi Smouse said Buckís death "is a tragic loss. Rob was a great musician and a great guy."

Jamestown Post-Journal

Friends Remember 10,000 Maniacs Guitarist
By John Whittaker

In the midst of pictures, flowers and guitars, the 10,000 Maniacs joined with Ray and Carol Syper to mourn the death of family member Rob Buck, the bandís lead guitarist.

Buck died Tuesday in the University of Pittsburgh Presbyterian Medical Center of liver failure after 17 days in the center.

He was recognized by many as a key to the Jamestown bandís rise from local sensation to musical heavyweight. During the funeral, Buckís bandmates likened his music to his personality.

"The great thing about Rob and his kindness is that through his music, that will live forever, he alleviated the suffering of millions of people, even if only for a moment when they heard him play," said keyboardist Dennis Drew.

John Lombardo said Buck the musician had a distinctive and unconventional sound which was manifest through his actions off the stage.

"He leaves a body of work, a signature sound," Lombardo said. "I remember after one of the shows he was talking about a particular way he had all of his effects put together and he said the sound he achieved was akin to dolphins swimming sideways through time. That was a lot of how we saw him living his life. He was unconventional and proud of it, and he was good at it."

The Rev. David Vennberg, pastor of Zion Covenant Church, was Buckís childhood pastor. He recalled a young boy who would hike in the woods behind his grandparentsí house and sleep under the stars.

Vennberg also recalled Buckís first guitar. He said he had no idea, then, how far it would lead.

"I recall also that Robbyís uncle, Charles, was especially kind to him and I believe it was Charles who gave him his first guitar," he said.

"Although I knew Robby as a young boy, it surprised Grace and me to learn of Robbyís great success in the musical field. And we shared in that success in a way, because when people spoke about the 10,000 Maniacs, Grace and I could say that we knew Robby Buck."

Lombardo, a founding member of the band who rejoined after a brief absence, urged people to say goodbye to Buck on Saturday but to celebrate his accomplishments after leaving the Lind Funeral Home.

"I know weíre all going to mourn, just because weíre here to say goodbye," Lombardo said. "Weíre also here to celebrate a life. Everyday we stay alive, letís remember him. Letís emulate the side of him that was creative and delightful, that was into having a good time when the sun was up and after it was down. Letís give each other as much music as we have inside."

Drew, a founding member of the band, described Buck as a great artist and musician.

"Love is a difficult thing to put into words. So is joy and trust and loyalty," Drew said. "And Rob was all of those things. Rob loved life completely and intensely. He was a great artist and a great musician and he taught me everything I know about art, about letting go of that fear of making a mistake and allowing yourself to learn and grow."

Drew spoke of Buckís love for his mother and the stories he would share during the bandís rehearsals.

"For all his art and for all his intellect, he probably wouldnít have been able to tie his shoes if it wasnít for his mother," he said. "He loved his mother very much. He spoke of Carol and Ray all the time. He was always telling stories about the two of you. For all his heart and intellect, Rob was a kind man. He opened his home and wallet to anyone who asked. I think many of us know that."

Speaking from the center of the three guitars on each side of Buckís casket, sound technician Joe Boyd recalled the first time he met the 10,000 Maniacs.

While conducting a sound check, he found the last guitarist to do the check had brought his own effects box. The sounds Rob Buck created during the eveningís concert struck the technician, who said Buck was the first band member he knew deeply.

Picking up one of the guitars, Boyd summarized several conversations with Buck.

"I used to get so many compliments for the sound, but it really came down to this man. When we used to lose our way, I would tell Rob, 'Letís come back to this guitar. Letís go back to what the sound really was. This is where it came from,'" Boyd said with the guitar in his hand." And by this time in 1988, 1989, 1990, Rob had hundreds of guitars. Itís so bizarre. Thank you for letting me hold your guitar Rob. But Iíll let you play it."

While the band may miss a guitar player, its members said they will miss a great person.

"So, when we leave this place, weíll recognize the sun still shines, that the stars have not fallen from the sky, but weíll know this earth is a little less beautiful and that weíre all a little poorer because heís gone," Drew said. "But then weíll also realize, in a way, we are richer men, richer in spirit, more humble and more loving, for having known him."

Buffalo News - 12/22/00

Glory Days - A Tribute to the Quiet Lead of the Maniacs
by Anthony Violanti

Rob Buck was a quiet Maniac. The lead guitarist for the 10,000 Maniacs, on stage, preferred to play his majestic and melodic licks in the background. Buck, like the rest of the band, let Natalie Merchant dominate the spotlight. She sang the songs and ignited the crowd.

It was easy to overlook the rest of the group, including Buck, who died Tuesday from liver disease and organ failure.

He, along with Dennis Drew on keyboards, Steven Gustafson on bass and Jerome Augustyniak on drums, seemed like a regular guy along for the ride during the Jamestown band's commercial glory days from 1987 through 1992.

That's when the band sold millions of records, made an appearance with Paul McCartney at the Hollywood Bowl and performed during President's Clinton inauguration.

Buck, 42, was a major reason for that success.

"He was the soul of the whole band," Drew said. "Rob was a great guitarist, but he meant a lot more than that to me.

"He taught me about the freedom to play and make mistakes. He wasn't afraid to make a mistake because it could be used as a part of the creative process."

Drew and Buck wrote much of the music for some of the Maniacs's most memorable numbers, including: Hey Jack Keroauc, What's the Matter Here, These Are Days and Candy Everybody Wants.

Merchant, who left the band for a solo career seven years ago, wrote the lyrics. She, like Buck, was there when the band was formed in 1981.

"Many believe that Rob was the Maniacs' sound," said Blair Woods, the group's manager. "You listen to those songs and the influence of Rob's guitar was all over them."

Woods said Buck was one of the best lead guitarists of the alternative rock movement. The members of R.E.M. were huge fans of the Maniacs and especially impressed by Buck's guitar work, Woods said.

"Rob had a unique style and had a big influence on a lot of bands."

Buck's guitar style seemed effortless but complex. "He played with a mixture of harmonic texture and melody," said Armand Petrie, who worked in the studio as a producer with the Maniacs.

"Rob was a real musician; he didn't have to play loud. You listen to those records and his guitar just seems to float over them. He blended in perfectly with that band."

Buck was a reluctant member of a rock star band. He was outwardly shy and unassuming; content to let others do the talking. Backstage, though, he was a different character.

"Rob was a funny guy with an incredible sense of humor," Petrie said. "He was always cracking jokes and kidding around with people."

When Merchant left the band, the Manaics regrouped with former original member John Lombardo and Mary Ramsey. I asked Buck five years ago about making an album without Natalie.

"It's a lot different," he said. "But we want to show people that our sound is the Maniacs sound. It wasn't just Natalie, it was the 10,000 Maniacs - all of us."

Buck said Merchant could be a demanding task master in the studio, and the atmosphere was different without her presence.

"It's much more relaxed, I'm not afraid to come here any more," he said with a laugh. "Natalie wasn't really scary, but she could be like a school marm. You know, like a strict nun in the classroom."

The Maniacs endured life after Merchant but never matched the earlier commercial success. Merchant still records, but her solo career leveled off in the mid 1990s.

In a very real sense, Merchant and the Maniacs needed each other and did their best work together.

The group has a sense of family, and Merchant has expressed concern about Buck's condition, Woods said. "They've been through a lot, but there's a lot of loyalty in that band," Petrie said.

The last time Petrie saw the Maniacs play was in early November when the band appeared with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. Three days later it made its final appearance at a rally for Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"Rob was in great spirits the night I saw him with the Philharmonic," Petrie said. "He was having a lot of fun. He just loved to play guitar and be in a band."

AP Wire Story on Rob

Guitarist for 10,000 Maniacs dead at 42
Joe R. Liuzzo, AP
12/20/00

PITTSBURGH ó (AP) Rob Buck, lead guitarist for the rock band 10,000 Maniacs, has died of complications from liver failure. He was 42.

Buck died Tuesday night at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, said Blair Woods, the band's publicist.

Buck wrote the music for some of the band's best-known hits, including Hey Jack Kerouac, and What's The Matter Here?

"Rob was a great guitarist and very underrated," band member Dennis Drew told the Buffalo News. "He had a big influence on other bands. This is a very sad time for all of us."

Buck, who was born in Jamestown, N.Y., started playing guitar at the age of 6 and decided to become a professional guitarist at 16 after seeing The Jimi Hendrix Story. He formed 10,000 Maniacs with Drew, Steven Gustafson, John Lombardo and Natalie Merchant in 1981, taking their name from the 1964 horror film 2,000 Maniacs.

"10,000 Maniacs was one of the seminal bands that helped form the shape of modern pop in the '90s," said Jack Barton, music director at radio station WYEP in Pittsburgh.

Merchant left the band in 1993 for a solo career and was replaced by Mary Ramsey. Buck and the band last performed Nov. 6 at a rally for Hillary Rodham Clinton at Buffalo State College.

Reuter's Story on Rob

Rob Buck of '10,000 Maniacs' Is Dead at 42

PITTSBURGH (Reuters) - Rob Buck, lead guitarist for the rock band 10,000 Maniacs, has died of liver failure at the age of 42, three weeks after he collapsed at his home in western New York, the band's publicist said on Wednesday.

Buck died on Tuesday evening at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Presbyterian Hospital, where he had been on life-support in an intensive care unit.

"He thought he had the flu. And then about three weeks ago, he collapsed and his mother found him. He was very near death then," said publicist Blair Woods.

Hospital officials described the cause of death as multiple organ failure caused by massive liver failure.

Buck, who last performed with the band on Nov. 6 at a rally for first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's U.S. Senate campaign, wrote the music to some of 10,000 Maniacs' biggest hits, including These Are Days, Hey Jack Kerouac and What's the Matter Here?

The band's official Web site at www.maniacs.com posted a tribute to Buck featuring the lyrics to These Are Days, which former lead singer Natalie Merchant wrote before embarking on a solo career in 1993.

It was not clear what his death would mean to the future of the rock group.

Doctors told Buck a number of years ago that he had a problem liver. "Rob had looked a lot older than he was for the last year and a half," Woods added.

Buck was single and lived in Jamestown, New York, where the band was founded in 1981. He began playing guitar at the age of 6 and decided to become a professional at age 16 after seeing the movie, The Jimi Hendrix Story on Christmas Eve in 1974.

The band 10,000 Maniacs, which also featured Steven Gustafson, Jerry Augustyniak, John Lombardo and Mary Ramsey, sold millions of recordings including albums The Wishing Chair, In My Tribe, Blind Man's Zoo, Our Time in Eden, and MTV Unplugged.

Wall of Sound article on Rob

10,000 Maniacs Guitarist Robert Buck Dead at 42

By Lynne Margolis

Robert Buck, lead guitarist for the 10,000 Maniacs, died Tuesday in Pittsburgh of multiple organ failure caused by liver disease. Buck, 42, who co-wrote some of the band's biggest hits, including What's the Matter Here? and Hey Jack Kerouac, was being treated at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's Presbyterian Hospital transplant unit, but his health had declined too rapidly to allow a liver transplant, according to band manager Blair Woods.

"Rob had been told many years ago that he had a susceptible liver," Woods told Wall of Sound today. "Members of the band expressed some concern over his physical condition in the past few months, as he looked like he had aged quite a bit over a short period of time. He assured everybody that he was fine and under medical consultation.

"His liver failure was sudden. Ö He had been in the hospital for 17 or so days, and physicians and nurses worked valiantly on him. In the end, he was simply in too poor a condition for any treatments to work."

Born Aug. 1, 1958, in Jamestown, N.Y., Buck began his love affair with the guitar at age 6, and decided at age 16 to become a professional player after seeing The Jimi Hendrix Story in a Florida movie theater.

After studying archeology at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio, he returned to Jamestown, where he formed 10,000 Maniacs with Dennis Drew, Steven Gustafson, John Lombardo, and Natalie Merchant in 1981. Drummer Jerome Augustyniak joined two years later. Merchant left in 1993, but the band has carried on with vocalist Mary Ramsey and Lombardo, who had originally departed in 1986.

A statement from the band's label, Bar None Records, noted that Buck's "unique and sophisticated" playing on the band's independently released 1983 album, Secrets of the I-Ching, helped attract the major label attention that earned them a deal with Elektra Records.

The Associated Press quoted Drew's comment to the Buffalo News: "Rob was a great guitarist and very underrated. He had a big influence on other bands. This is a very sad time for all of us."

According to Woods, Buck was someone who was active and full of life. "Rob was, in all respects, a 14-year-old kid," he said. "He bought a Razor Scooter when I was with him on a trip to Utah in early September. He rode bikes and skateboards. He hated conflict and making decisions. He was pure and full of joy. He was an integral part of the band's sound ó some say his guitar playing was the sound of 10,000 Maniacs. Nobody anywhere played guitar like Rob Buck."

In a separate statement, Woods said, "The band's thoughts and prayers are with Rob's family. They have not addressed what Rob's death may mean for the future of 10,000 Maniacs." The band played its last gig of 2000 on Nov. 3, accompanied by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

Today, featured a green-tinted image of Buck next to the lyrics of These Are Days, which he co-wrote with Merchant. Fans began filling up a message board as word of his death spread, and an address for the Robert Buck Family Medical Fund was posted. Though he had no children ó he married Terri Newhouse in 1979; they divorced in 1981 ó Buck is survived by his mother, Carol Ciper; father, Kenneth Buck; stepfather, Ray Ciper; and three half-brothers.

Martin Augustyniak, drummer Jerry's brother, posted the following statement on the band's Web site: "I grew up watching him play; he was a great talent and a wonderful person."

Another fan wrote, "I'll miss your magnificent musical skills and the bemused look on your face when you perform live. What a wonderful gift you gave to the world."

Funeral arrangements are pending at Lind Funeral Home in Jamestown.