Thursday, May 04, 2006


Remembering Phil Walden

Southern-music pioneer and Capricorn Records founder Phil Walden was eulogized at his funeral on April 26 in Atlanta. More than 300 friends and family members attended, including Little Richard, Dickey Betts (Allman Brothers), John Bell (Widespread Panic), Col. Bruce Hampton (Aquarium Rescue Unit), Kenny Chesney and Otis Redding Jr. (Walden managed his father).

"I'm just so grateful to the Lord we had a chance to meet this man," said Little Richard, who like Walden grew up in Macon, GA. "He was a genius in his own right."

Walden died of complications due to cancer on April 23. He was 66.

As I previously wrote ("Phil Walden R.I.P."), I was fortunate to meet and get to know Phil Walden when I produced the two Hempilation albums released by Capricorn in the '90s. I asked some of Phil's friends and associates to send their thoughts about this music-industry legend. Here are a few comments:

Michelle Roche, VP of Publicity, 1999-2002, Capricorn Records
"When they made Phil Walden, they broke the mold. He was a true music man, a maverick. There have been very few like him, and it's doubtful that there will ever be anyone else like Phil Walden. I feel lucky to have known him, and to have been a part of the Capricorn family."

Jeff Cook, Senior VP of Promotion and Marketing, 1990-1998, Capricorn Records
"Working with Phil was like being on Mr. Toad's wild ride! There were ups and downs and strange twists and turns but it was always an adventure.

"Phil was the most cultured individual I've had the pleasure of working with in the music business. He was a voracious reader, an avid art collector and had a great appreciation of architecture - in addition to being a walking, talking encyclopedia of music, in all genres.

"I never knew him in the days of Otis Redding, the Allman Brothers and the rest of the artists in the Southern-rock revolution he helped start. I came aboard to assist in the re-launch of Capricorn and we had a lot of fun breaking Widespread Panic, Cake and 311. He once told me that, to his knowledge, no label had ever gone out of business and then come back to have hits and make money. Well, we got to! I'll always treasure that experience.

"Phil Walden was a mentor, a friend, a task master and one of the most extraordinary human beings I've ever met. I will never forget the gift of knowing him."

"A man may die but his character remains. His thoughts remain. It is his character that gives real power and force to a man. Character is power." - Sivananda

"Phil had character and was also a character. No one who ever met Phil will ever forget Phil!"

Keith Stroup, Founder, NORML
"I was terribly sorry to learn of Phil's death. He was a wonderfully entertaining man to spend time with and a good friend of NORML dating all the way back to the mid-1970s. He once invited me down to the annual Allman Brothers festival he used to hold each year in Georgia, and I recall with great fondness the interesting, behind-the-scenes world before the band broke apart from internecine problems."

To read the 2001 Creative Loafing cover story, "Ramblin' Clan," about the Walden family: CLICK HERE

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