April 15, 1955-Jan. 1, 2015
By Melanie Maxwell
It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Jeff Golub today at 11 a.m. in New York. The beloved guitarist was surrounded by his wife of 18 years, Audrey, and their two sons, Chris, 14, and Matthew, 12, in their Manhattan home.
Jeff battled Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP), since losing his sight in 2011. However, it wasn’t until last fall that the National Institutes of Health confirmed the diagnosis. PSP is an aggressive, progressively degenerative brain disease for which there is no treatment or cure.
To help the Golub family, a “Friends of Jeff Golub All-Star Benefit Concert” is scheduled for Jan. 21, 8 p.m., at B.B. King’s Blues Club & Grill, 237 W. 42nd St., in New York City. The artists confirmed to perform so far include Rick Braun, Dave Koz, Richard Elliot, Mindi Abair, Kirk Whalum, Chuck Loeb, Christopher Cross, Philippe Saisse, Randy Brecker, Henry Butler, Mark Egan, Bill Evans, Steve Ferrone and more. Additional artists will be announced shortly. To purchase tickets, visit www.marqueeconcerts.com, www.ticketmaster.com, B.B. Kings box office or call 800-745-3000.
To further assist the Golub family, donations can be made to The Jeff Golub Medical Expenses Fund online at www.jeffgolub.com or by sending a check or money order payable to “Jeff Golub Medical Expenses” to Harner at Chapman & Co. Management Inc., 14011 Ventura Blvd., #405, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423. Harner can be reached at 818-788-9577 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our sincere condolences and prayers are with the Golub family.
We will continue to update this blog with more information as it becomes available. So, please check back often. Meanwhile, here is the cover story we ran featuring Jeff in the May 2012 issue of Smooth Jazz News.
By Marcia Manna
Contemporary jazz guitarist Jeff Golub has built a reputation as a critically acclaimed and multifaceted musician, known for infusing each of his 10 albums with strains of rock, funk or blues.
On his latest release, The Three Kings, he pays tribute to a trio of blues titans, covering classics such as “The Thrill is Gone” (B.B. King), “Born Under a Bad Sign” (Albert King), and “Side Tracked” (Freddie King). The CD was ranked among the Top 10 blues albums on the Billboard chart in August, 2011, and includes the song, “In Plain Sight,” an original, up-tempo number with a surprising title, especially if you consider Golub’s recent health crisis.
“I don’t know why I named it that,” Golub mused by phone from his home in Manhattan, New York. “I wanted to write a song in the vein of Freddie King, who has written a lot of core instrumentals. It has the same sort of bridge. But it’s ironic because after I recorded it, I lost my sight.”
Adjusting to blindness has been an ongoing journey, filled with dark days and a few enlightened moments. It started when Golub noticed a spot in his right eye during the recording sessions of The Three Kings. He was referred to Dr. Jeffrey G. Odel, a neuro-ophthalmologist at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, and learned that he had a collapsed optic nerve. Though he lost the vision in his right eye, Golub felt that he would adjust. He could still see.
Last year, just weeks after the release after the release of The Three Kings, Golub lost the sight in his left eye. He pondered what he would say to his sons, Chris, 11, and Matthew, 9, and decided to encourage their questions.
“At that age, if my father lost his sight, it would be traumatic,” Golub explained. “My younger son Matthew asked, ‘Are you going to die, Dad?’ I said, ‘No, no. It’s not life threatening. I just can’t see anything. I’ll be banging into stuff.’ My older son who plays guitar said, ‘Dad, you don’t need to see. You keep your eyes closed anyway when you play.’”
Golub’s own father was reluctant but supportive when his son decided to make a living as a musician.
Born on April 15,1955, in Akron, Ohio, Golub grew up with two older siblings in what he describes as a “blue-collar family.” “My dad took me to see a touring version of The Grand Ole Opry at the Akron Civic Center,” he said. “I saw the guitar player behind Porter Wagner and Webb Pierce––with their pompadours and makeup and sparkly suits. I thought––that’s what I want to do; he has dignity.”
At the age of 10, Golub’s parents bought him a Harmony electric guitar and paid for lessons. But when Golub became a young adult and passed a civil service exam, his father expected him to become a postal worker. Golub had no intentions of becoming a mail carrier.
“My dad worked at the B.F. Goodrich Company. And I loved my dad, he has since passed on, but I was going to continue playing guitar. He stormed out of the room and came back after he calmed down and said, ‘You know, I’ve worked a job I don’t like every day of my life. If I can do anything to help you to not do that, I will.”
Golub auditioned and was accepted to the renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, but left after one year to take private lessons with Berklee professor Mick Goodrick. Goodrick, he said, taught him to “play in the moment” and to focus on “getting back to the magic,” lessons that still serve him today.
Adept at getting the magic, Golub was soon in demand as a sideman, performing at major rock arenas, backing artists such as Billy Squier and former J. Geils Band frontman Peter Wolf.
Golub had bigger dreams.
In 1988, he released his first album, Unspoken Words, on the Gaia label. Hoping to “carry the mantle” of the late jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery, Golub embraced the smooth jazz format because it allowed him to express all the styles he had mastered as a touring sideman and session player.
He became hopeful about his future as a solo artist. But that same year, Rod Stewart offered Golub a job. He had been a fan his whole life.
“I was torn,” said Golub. “They would put a page in the program with my record on it, and I thought, ‘OK, this would be pretty good advertising.’I was happy they considered me and I stayed with Rod until 1994.”
After nearly seven years as a sideman, Golub released his second CD, Avenue Blue. Three of the tracks, including the song “Stockholm,” penned with Rick Braun and David Palmer, received regular rotation on jazz stations.
I was having so much fun,” said Golub. “It was a good time to leave Rod and pursue my solo career.” That career has produced five albums ranking in the top 20 on Billboard‘s jazz music chart. More importantly, it is responsible for a variety of supportive collaborations with old and new friends. There is Henry Butler, for instance, a blind vocalist and pianist featured on The Three Kings.
Butler has been “a big help,” advising Golub on how to get around, what to ask for in performance contracts and how to request assistance from the airlines.
Butler prefers a cane to hail a cab and negotiate travel, but Golub has the benefit of a new guide dog named Luke. The black Labrador retriever is loved by the whole family, which includes Audrey, Golub’s wife of 15 years, his two sons and a mischievous canine called Ozzie, aka the “anti-guide” dog.
And there is Golub’s long-time manager and co-producer Bud Harner, who helped to establish the Jeff Golub Medical Expenses Account along with accountant Helene Cohen and bookkeeper Judy Miller Bailey.
Today, Golub makes the bulk of his income by touring. He is anchored by a sense of responsibility to his family and the hope that one day his blindness will be cured. But finding a cure can be expensive.
The idea for the medical fund sprung from a benefit concert for Jeff at the Hyatt Regency Newport Beach,” said Harner, who works at Chapman Management in Sherman Oaks, California. “The more Jeff got into the testing process, the more out of control the expenses were.”
Musicians such as John Mayer and Bruce Springsteen have donated to the fund online, and smooth jazz artists including Mindi Abair, Rick Braun, Brian Culbertson, Richard Elliott, Jeff Lorber and countless others have performed and donated the proceeds.
“They are all my good friends and I can’t thank them enough,” said Golub. “There are worse things that can happen to a musician. I have faith someone will find an answer to this and having a financial fund that helps me stay on the road and do the things I need to do is great.”
1988 Unspoken Words (GAIA)
1994 Avenue Blue (Mesa/Bluemoon)
1996 Naked City (Mesa/Bluemoon)
1997 Nightlife (Mesa/Bluemoon)
1999 Out of the Blue (Atlantic)
2000 Dangerous Curves (GRP Records)
2002 Do It Again (GRP Records)
2003 Soul Sessions (GRP Records)
2005 Temptation (Narada)
2007 Grand Central (Narada)
2009 Blues for You (Koch Records)
2011 The Three Kings (E-one Music)
2013 Train Keeps A Rolling (E-one Music)