Richard Fantina, Keyboardist for Alan Vega, Music Editor, Scholar, Teacher Dies by Iman Lababedi
Killing time before the Julian Casablancas concert last night i went onto Facebook and I noticed one of those pics in the corner that said you haven’t contacted Richard Fantina in awhile. Why don’t you say hello? Why indeed? I hadn’t spoken to Richard, an old and dear friend, since last May when we failed to connect during a visit he had to New york. And I was shocked to read he died October 6th, 2009.
When I first wrote for East Village Eye, Richard was my editor and when I jumped ship to New York Rocker he jumped with me. From the mid-sixties till the mid-eighties Richard was one of the most popular figures on the underground East Village. He knew everyone , from Jim fouratt to Rudolph (owners of Danceteria) to Phoebe Legere to Alan Vega. And more importantly: he was loved by everybody.
I loved him to. When everybody else hated the latest article I was writing about some weird limey phenom, he was insisting it was published. Which is how we came to scoop the world on Frankie Goes To Hollywood.
Also, we often wrote about politics together. We interviewed the head of the PLO’s delegation to the U.N. together right after the Sabra Shatilla massacres.
When not writing and editing about music and politics, he found time to write a novel and play keyboards for Alan Vega’s touring band, run a typesetting company and who knows what else. There was also a marriage in there somewhere.
And then we fell out of touch until he located me on Facebook. We caught up on old times and he told me he was a teacher and wrote scholarly tomes. Here is what he did after we fell out of touch:
University of Miami ’07
Ph.D. English, 19th & 20th Century Literature
Florida International University ’98
M.A. African-New World Studies, Afromexico
Florida International University
M.A. English, Literature
At the time of his death he described his work as: “I teach Literature and Writing in an online setting to nontraditional students, primarily adults over 40.”
Me? I will always remember rolling back to Richard’s place on 2nd avenue, drunk as lords, after a night going from club to club to see set after set. My dear friend. I am so sad