on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2020 20 Mai

RIP Steve Eliovson – a footnote

von: Brian Whistler Filed under: Blog | TB | 1 Comment

I found out a while ago from a post by Michael that the enigmatic guitarist Steve Eliovson had passed away on March 15th. Anyway, someone posted a little video about his memorial service. It seems a fan who had once briefly been friends with him tracked him down after many years, but it was too late to reunite. The saddest part of all this is the only people who even knew him and his wonderful album, Dawn Dance were these two out of towners who came from Johannesburg to find him. The rest were just a random quorum of 10 local Jews, none of whom knew him or had any idea who they were burying. I found it a poignant experience to watch this.



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Here is what the person who filmed this wrote:



The Quiet Funeral of a Great Guitarist – Steve Eliovson – Born: 1954 – Died: 15 Mar 2020 **There is a Thundafund underway to raise funds for a gravestone for Steve –  ** There are perhaps many thousands of people around the planet who want to know about Steve Eliovson and what has happened to him. We have decided to put this video up of his funeral for all those who want to know. Had they been given advance warning, I’m sure many would have been at his funeral on this day and to say farewell to an enigmatic and brilliant musician. The 17th of March was a sad and strange day. I received a message from my friend Herby Opland that Steve Eliovson had died and that his funeral was this very day at 12 noon at the West Park Jewish Cemetery, Johannesburg. The news took me back a few years to when I actively spent a few weeks trying to track the man down. I had made up my mind that if he was alive, I was going to find him. I failed utterly. The closest I got was to a cousin of his in America who then asked me if I had any news. My desire to find Steve was driven by an obsessive curiosity as to how and why such a talented and awe-inspiring musician could simply disappear off the face of the earth. For a brief moment, we had become friends in the mid 1980’s after he walked into my gig in Sea Point and asked if he could sit down with me. I was taking a break and eating my supper at the time. He asked me point-blank if I remember a guitarist by the name Steve Eliovson and because a few years earlier I had watched him perform two incendiary performances with jazz guitarist Johnny Fourie, I immediately recognised him. He came out to my place in Muizenberg twice and we got to jam a little together and then he was gone. I never saw him or heard of him again. When I looked again he had so successfully removed himself from the grid that he was utterly invisible. Steve’s one and only album titled ‚Dawn Dance‘, (ECM), recorded with the late Collin Walcott in 1981, has in the interim, become a highly-acclaimed collectors item, revered by maybe hundreds of thousands of people across the world. Many of whom voice their desire to know just what happened to the mysterious guitarist and why he never recorded again. I have only been able to fill in tiny bits of detail. He went to the USA and was lined up to record a second album with ECM when he broke his leg badly. This put him out of action for a while. There may have been complications. There are tales of him squatting with a friend and having to store his guitars which were never reclaimed. How he survived over there I do not know. There is another tale that he came back to SA and tried being a farmer for awhile in KZN. Today I went to his funeral. Myself and my friend Herby, outside of the minimum ten Jewish men required at any Jewish burial, were the only people there who knew who he was. There was no family, no friend, not a single soul who knew and loved him. Steve had died two days earlier in the Johannesburg General, he had end-stage cancer. He had been living in a flatlet in Berea for some months. Where he was before that is hazy. These flats are owned by the Jewish Benevolent Society and are made available to those who have fallen on hard times. Steve lived there quietly, never once reaching out to old friends and family. This astoundingly talented master-musician gave us a brief flurry of his brilliance and then for reasons still unknown, walked away from it all so quietly that there was no-one outside of Herby, myself and ten strangers at his funeral today. RIP Steve Eliovson, we did not and will not forget you brother.


This entry was posted on Mittwoch, 20. Mai 2020 and is filed under "Blog". You can follow any responses to this entry with RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

1 Comment

  1. Brian Whistler:

    PS: I know I’ve been really quiet these past few months. Truth be told, I’ve been pretty stressed and depressed, like so many people. But I’m coming out of my shell and hope to write something that might be of interest to the good folks on this blog. Stay tuned. Hope everyone is safe and well and creating.

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