Bob Guida, RIP


Bob Guida
Originally uploaded by kenf225

Bob Guida, the great blues guitarist and singer, a jovial and powerful presence in the Brooklyn music scene for decades, died last night. Shlomo Pestcoe posted the following announcement to the NY bluegrass and old-time list:

As some of you may have heard, Bob Guida passed away yesterday, Wednesday, March 11th. Bob had a heart attack as he was setting up his equipment to do a performance at a local library.

As per the Guida family’s wishes, Bob’s funeral and wake this weekend will be a small private familial function. Of course, there will be a larger memorial sometime in the near future. However, it’s too early to discuss or organize such an event. Please understand that everyone is still very much in a state of shock and distraught over Bob’s sudden passing.

Jim Garber and I are planning to set up a memorial site for Bob on Facebook asap. We’ll let folks know when it’s up.

All of our love and best wishes go out to Phylis Guida (Bob’s widow) and the Guida family in their tragic loss.

Rest in peace, Bob. You are sorely missed by your many friends and loved ones.

“Bob loved performing and making people happy with his wonderful music and singing,” Shlomo said in a Facebook posting. “It was Bob’s fondest wish that when his time came, he would be able to take his leave of this world while on stage. And yesterday his wish was granted. He will be sorely missed.”

Eli Smith interviewed Bob along with fellow Otis Brother Pat Conte last year. You can see video of the interview and follow a bunch of great links at the Down Home Radio site.

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23 Responses to Bob Guida, RIP

  1. Anonymous says:

    Bob Has Gone On

    I first met Bob at the Fabulous Jalopy Theatre, back in March of 2007. He brought with him all his pals/bandmates from RetroFret (Peter, Mike and Steve) in the guise of Raoul Otis and the Blue Serenaders. And let me tell ya’, they were superb. Bob was the hub, playing a gorgeous, vintage (of course) J-200. They played some Gospel stuff that night, along with some ancient Blues, and even an Elvis tune — and a hypnotic song about the sinking of the Tittanic. But I’ll never forget Bob snarling, “Pucker up buttercup,” with all that soul, humour and passion that he freely expressed when in the moment (and he GOT into the moment). I chatted with Bob that night and over the next two years got to know him better… He even came to see a Sam Shepard play I did at the Jalopy, with his lovely wife Phyllis! The last time I saw Bob perform was with the amazing Pat Conte (as the Otis Brothers), again at Jalopy (one of Bob’s favorite places, he would say…Geoff and Lynette loved him). The Otis Brothers were playing plugged-in that night. Bob on his porgeous Gretsch White Falcon and Pat with a Telecaster out of the ’50s. They played late that night, and nobody wanted them to stop…EVER. I’m going to miss that beautiful smile of Bob’s, and that hug hello and goodbye that I alway got from him. And his voice…and his music…his soulfullness… everything that was Bob…Happy Trails, Bob
    Frank P.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Bob Guida’s passing

    Check out a really nice tribute to Bob at the-daily-growler@blogspot.com
    I’m proud to say I was one of Bob’s blues brothers in both music and soul–yes, it’s hard for me to hold back bawling like a baby.

    Michael Greene

  3. Anonymous says:

    Bobby’s last gig…

    the gig on Wednesday 3/11/2009 was mine. Bob had done 3 of these library gigs with me in February; we had 4 lined up for March. I brought in Bob and our friend Guy on guitar, and we had a real good thing going. Bob was back on bass and of course singing. We passed the mic around, and man was I in some fast company! No drums for most of these, so it was quite a challenge for all of us. I posted Bob singing Going To Chicago on my myspace page; I think it’s great! I love the way Bob crooned the blues! We go back over 30 years I guess. I brought Bob out on electric bass and right away everyone started calling him for gigs.

    Eddie Lee Isaacs

    • ken says:

      Re: Bobby’s last gig…

      Thank you, Eddie, for sharing that. Here’s Eddie’s page on Myspace. Bob’s song is the third one on the list in the player.

      • Anonymous says:

        Bobby’s Blues…

        I can’t believe Bob passed away… and on my gig! But I am happy that I was with him, as was our friend Guy. He was with his friends, doing what he loved, and with number nine by his side. It’s the god’s honest truth though; I brought Bobby out like 30 years ago on electric bass and everyone started hiring him. The guitar player (me!) was much less interesting! But we got to back up Big Walter Horton and that was incredible and a memory Bob always cherished. We backed up Snooky Pryor, and I have it on vcr and hope to get it digitalized and up on youtube… with Ola Mae Dixon on drums! I’m on the Cool Drivers 45 with Bobby at the helm doing Automobile Blues. Later on, after I was barred from Tramps, they hired Bob to play with Otis Rush, as well as Eddie Taylor. Don’t forget Charles Brown. Years later, Bob backed up Roy Buchanan and Junior Brown. I think Bob kind of laughed with amazement that somehow or other he got to work with Bill Firsell; not Lefty Frizell, but there is a link a link there. Over the years Bob and I did many, many gigs in many different places… the dives I brought that man to! But Bob loved playing and was always up for getting out there and playing. I miss him dearly. We would discuss movies, the Mets and of course, music and guitars and lots more. I learned a lot from Bob; about kindness and generosity. It’s an ongoing study. After the recent gigs we’d go out to eat and it was a battle trying to pay! Bob’s business is also an integral part of the community, supporting and contributing to many charitable causes. Bobby’s singing voice was a gift from god. I would give Bob the grandest introduction, telling the audience that Bob is as fine a vocalist as you will ever hear. In recent times I had a new moniker for Bob: “The Elvis of Corona”… Bobby was the best!

        • Anonymous says:

          Re: Bobby’s Blues…

          Eddie:

          You probably don’t remember me, but I played some standards with a gypsy jazz flavor in a trio with Bob circa 1979-1981. I went to the Big Walter gig with him when he was with you and Marty Fink. He popped a string during the first set and somehow did not have any extras with him. He frantically motioned to me from the stage, gave me the keys to his hearse and pleaded with me to drive to Flushing to get his strings. Bob was truly the rarest of the larger than life characters and could play the upright bass and sing standards like nobody’s business, something many folks out there who knew him as a blues singer/guitarist only may not be aware of and I have the tapes to prove it. When I went to the Eagle Tavern one time with Bob when he was backing Ian Buchanan, I met a student of Roy Smeck that Bob introduced me to. That is how I got Roy’s number and became a student and friend of Roy’s for over 10 years. For that alone, I am eternally indebted to Bob. It is amazing the lives one person can touch and Bob did this for three decades for so many countless people. He can not be replaced, a truly unique, straight shooting, hilariously funny and brilliantly talented and intelligent individual. We must all live life as he did, a life lived richly and without compromise as to who he was and what he brought to those fortunate enough to have known him and those especially fortunate to have made music with him.

          • Anonymous says:

            Re: Bobby’s Blues…

            I know Bob played some gypsy jazz with someone; he had mentioned it. I also kind of recall the broken string story… not sure who you are and you didn’t sign off here… but you can contact me and we can refresh our memories.

            Eddie Lee Isaacs

          • Anonymous says:

            Re: Bobby’s Blues…

            Eddie:

            My name is Vinny Cortese. Bob, Tom O’Keefe and I played in an acoustic gypsy jazz inspired trio circa 1979-81. I met Bob and Tom through Pat Conte. Pat and I were in the same homeroom at Archbishop Molloy in 1970. Pat sat in front of me the whole year as we were seated alphabetically. A few years later, Pat kept trying to get me together with Bob & Tom and I finally met them at a legendary Dr. Lou party in Richmond Hill. I thought, I can’t play with these guys, they’re far too good!! But for some reason that still mystifies me, they were equally awestruck by my flailing about on my guitar. I still don’t know how I fooled them. Anyway, this is one case where the whole far, far exceeded the sum of all parts. We were loud, dynamic and musical and, though I studied with Roy Smeck for a decade (again with Bob as the catalyst), this was and remains the highlight of my playing music with anyone to this day. I know Bob was always just as pleased and proud of the music we made. So all you blues guys, try and picture Bob with his upright singing “Moonglow,” “Lady Be Good,” “That Old Feeling” and dozens of other tunes with the same soul he brought to everything else he touched and beating the hell out of his bass. It is a special memory for me and I only wish more people could have heard him in this capacity as well.

        • Anonymous says:

          Re: Bobby’s Blues…

          Eddie Lee,

          I first met Bob when he was playing with you and Harry Holt, I believe, at Dan Lynch–calling himself Cadillac Slim in those days–around 1979.

          And thanks for reminding me that you were banned from Tramps…later, Rocky Sorvino hired Bob and me to play in his Tramps house band. The very first gig we did David Johanssen came rushing in the club–he was then posing as a blues great and his blues act had saved Tramps from going under so he had special privileges in the joint–so this night we were playing our usual fiery way and after we finished a couple of tunes (“Scratch My Back”–remember Rocky doing that?), David Johannsen jumped up on stage with a drink in his hand a babe on his arm and said, “‘Rocket 88’ in E.” Bob looked over at me–I was playing the piano which was sitting just off the stage on the floor–and said, “Let’s play in D.” This we did, with Rocky playing in E and DJ singing in E but Bob and I were playing in D. David J. realized it almost immediately and he stopped the tune, threw his drink on the floor and walked off the stage. At the end of the gig the owner of Tramps (a guy named Mike) called us over and said he was sorry but we weren’t welcome back–

          I was lucky to have met Bob when I did–30 years ago–it was an immediate connection because we both were celebrating, playing, and promoting true American music whether it was blues, rockabilly, rock ‘n roll, hillbilly–it was all the same music to Bob–I remember that Hank Williams tune Bob loved doing–“I hear that lonesome, that lonesome whistle blow….” I’m hearing that lonesome whistle blowin’ now–and it makes me think of Bob and how much I’m gonna miss him…

          Michael Greene

          • Anonymous says:

            Re: Bobby’s Blues…

            Michael, we weren’t with Harry Holt and not sure who you may have saw us with. I saw you in Lynch’s with the Swilltones. I pushed my way up to sit in on a tune or two. I was jealous of other people playing with Bob. Eventually, I grew up a little and came to understand that.

            My friend Hank read your post and said “Swilltones? that sounds familiar…”

            I said “it should! you were in the group!” Was Hank with you guys for a little while? You stole my whole band! They were happy to leave! Then I had to go steal some guys somewhere!

            You and Bob had a real nice groove. Michael, you have that nice ear for harmony. You are also a real easy going guy who I also managed to drive crazy during our stint with Mark Carpentieri and Somethin’ Blue.

            I kid around about it a lot. Bob enjoyed an adventure and was open to trying out a new scene, and he really clicked with you.

            There were also times that I was not always into the music. But when I was, sooner or later a bass player was needed and Bob oftentimes joined me again.

            Your Bayou gig was a result of Somethin’ Blue needing a bass player, me suggesting Bob Guida, me getting fired, the band eventually running it’s course, and the club- as usual- asking Bob to stay on and play there… with you.

            I’ll never forget seeing you guys there on one particular Wednesday night; it was July 17, 1996 and TWA flight 800 went down off Long Island. There is something a little more personal to the story that I cannot reveal right now.

            Yes Bob had something special. It was evident this weekend. At the wake on Saturday night, you could barely move through the place and parking was really difficult. It was jammed with people coming to pay their respects.

            Some came from Los Angeles! Some from Philadelphia. It was an incredible few days.

            I am also basically a neighborhood guy too, so I have maintained contact and a closeness with the whole Guida gang at the funeral home.

            Eddie Lee Isaacs

  4. Anonymous says:

    Bobby’s Blues…

    I meant to sign the above post with recollections of Bob…

    a friend also asked to remind viewers that Bob loved playing with Larry Johnson, a post he held for awhile, and worked with Larry twice in recent years at Lincoln Center. That’s our friend Hank Brandes, who played drums with Bob on numerous occasions in several settings, including with Larry Johnson and Bob. More to come…

    Eddie Lee Isaacs

  5. louisx says:

    Bob Guida

    I just found this website after hearing the news. I recognize some people from the past here — hello Eddie. I didn’t know Bob well but I enjoyed every gig I did with him. It wasn’t just the music, which was always heartfelt; the rides to the gigs were often the highlight of the evening. He was consistently a fun, interesting and unique guy to talk to. So even though I haven’t seen him in a long time, I miss him already. The world needs more like him.

    • ken says:

      Re: Bob Guida

      Yes, it certainly does. I knew Bob through the Brooklyn bluegrass/old-time community. I run the web site for the Ponkiesburg Pickin’ Party, one of the longer-running Brooklyn jams, and send out a newsletter every week about the local music scene. Bob and the Otis Brothers were featured more than once on the blog.

  6. Anonymous says:

    bob and others

    i should just add that (and i was his playing partner since 9th grade) that bob was equally proud of playing with eddie, guy, michael greene etc as any JB Hutto or Big Walter or Hubert, Rush, Butter or Brownie.
    -pvc

  7. Anonymous says:

    Bobby’s blues; Tramps, circa ’79- ’80…

    Around 1979, I was playing around the city and very much a part of the Dan Lynch scene. I was in with the harp players because I love blues and was trying to play it correctly, and trying to provide the backup for Chicago style blues, the blues of Little Walter, Muddy Waters, etc.

    I put together this band called Daily Blues. I hated the name, but relented to my band mate on this. I got Hank Brandes on drums; I would say good enough to play with anyone. Marty Fink on harp was tops, up there with the best of ‘em. And of course Bobby Guida on bass and vocals, of course good enough to play with anyone. I was certainly not up to these guys. I was also pretty high on myself. But somehow or other we worked a fair amount.

    We loved Tramps and would go to hear the great blues bands that passed through. One night we went to see Left Hand Frank, this great guitarist from Chicago, who definitely deserved far wider recognition. His backup band was local NYC guys, who are all very good musicians, but to me, didn’t work to well in support of Frank. Far too busy…

    After months of begging, Terry at Tramps agreed to give us a Sunday night for the door, meaning no pay. But I was talking with this guy Bill who booked these guys and drove them in from Chicago. I told him my band could do a better job behind his artists.

    So the next night he heard us, with Bob’s great bass playing, and told Terry he wanted us to back up Frank. A few weeks later he brought in Big Walter Horton.

    We couldn’t believe it! It was great!

    But a lot of people objected and were jealous. So it became tense. Some felt we weren’t good enough for the job. Well, someone snuck a little tape recorder in and to this day I have a few sets from that gig and we sounded real good. I knew how to stay out of the way and just push Walter as hard as I could. Hank and Bob pushed the rhythm support to the limit, with great time and taste…

    But a few things went wrong on that gig. Some things were beyond my control and some within. I was sometimes at odds with my band mates, but- and I am not just saying this- never, ever with Bob. Bob did not ever have a problem with anyone. I will never forget this, but Bob would say to me “Ed, just tell me what you want me to do and I’ll do it”. I did my best to drive Bob crazy too, always coming up with things with some unusual changes… that I didn’t even know myself! Anyway, Bill was gonna bring in Eddie Taylor for the next one. He wanted the band, without me.

    Bob was along for the ride. He didn’t care much either way. Bob never pushed real hard for gigs. People always sought him out to play.

    I heard that Eddie Taylor was very difficult to work with on those gigs, and the Bill thing kind of trickled out around then anyway. But Tramps got Bob in later with Otis Rush and Charles Brown.

    Bob had this cool habit of taking songs that we did with these guys and incorporating them into his repertoire. From Frank he got Linda Lu and One Room Country Shack. From Walter, Bob took Everybody’s Fishin’ and Trouble In mind.

    More to come, I promise!

    Eddie Lee Isaacs

  8. Anonymous says:

    RIP BOB

    hey eddie its so nice to here all these stories about my cousin bobby its bringing tears to my eyes reading all this and i cant believe i found you online like this my aunt jus called me and said there was a tribute to bobby online and i looked up a couple of things and found that some people some people that really cared for him put up these memorial pages and seriously from all of us the gudia family at the funeral home i thank you guys so much for talkin about my cousin bobby like your doin and how much i apprieciate it so much and your really touching my heart.. i was with bobby every single day and he used to tell me stories but my god i never knew it was in this much detail and i know the music was his life and so was bieng the best funeral director he could be and thats why i look up to him and thats why im living thru him now .. thanks again and eddie isaacs i hope that i never loose touch with you and i wish nothin but the best for you
    – Eddie Guida Jr

    • Anonymous says:

      Re: RIP BOB

      Hi, Cousin Eddie:

      You might not remember me after all these years, but I can only hope you do, my name is Vinny Cortese, was at the funeral parlor countless times from 1979-85 or so, making music upstairs with Bob and Cousin Lou, eating pizza and Chinese food and having the time of our lives. All the best to you, Eddie. Like I wrote in a previous post, Bob was a true larger than life and inspirational spirit whose friendship and musical kinship made an impact and difference in my life. I could not travel from Las Vegas (where I live) for the services as my wife is disabled (paraplegic) and I could find no one to help me out with staying with her on such short notice. I asked Joe Bellulovich to send you and Cousin Lou my heartfelt condolences but would not blame him for forgetting to do so with all the shock everyone has had to endure. But I am happy to be able to do this directly now. I am so sorry for the profound loss of Cousin Bob. Long live the spirit of Bob Guida and the countless lives he touched.

    • Anonymous says:

      Re: RIP BOB

      Eddie Junior;
      Glad you found the site. There is another one that Michael Greene started but for some reason or other, I have ended up here for now.

      Isn’t it something, how much you are learning about your uncle?

      Bob is highly regarded in music.

      I feel Bob was not pushy about his music. People always sought him out. But if Bob was interested in really leading a band, and getting out there and doing it, there is no question that Bob could have been a highly featured act on the national level.

      Eddie Junior, I want to tell you that you were incredible the last few days. You were trying to help people (and me!) in every way. You have impressed me greatly.

      You are a Guida, and there are some expectations attached to the name, but it will be easy for you. You learned from the best.

      I always enjoyed it when I’d call the home and you’d answer the phone, I guess filling in for some one.

      But I have seen your uncle Bob in action. He was a “people” person. At work, Bob handled things with the utmost care and made a family feel as comfortable as possible.

      I’ve heard Bob on the phone, dealing with people, making arrangements… Bobby always did it nicely, generously and courteously.

      Keep up the fine work Eddie Jr, and thank you again for all your help over the weekend…

      Eddie Lee Isaacs

  9. Anonymous says:

    RIP BOBBY

    vinny thanx so muxh yeah i was born in 1985 but my father is right next to me (eddie guida sr) and he remebers you very well and has tears in his eyes right now… its a shame we still cant get ovr boby bieng gone i cant believe this happened 30 years my father n bobby were closer than brothers not 1 fight bieng business partners and family at the funeral home today was like the 1st day him not bieng here and its very hard to coop going anywhere in the funeral home upstairs the chapels and especially the office all graced wit bobbys prescence and its just not the same and its hard with him not in our lifes its very hard i thankyou for writing back to us and i hope this doesnt end a friendship.. thanx again…
    – Eddie Guida Jr

    • Anonymous says:

      Re: RIP BOBBY

      Hi, Eddie Sr & Jr:

      I am sorry I was slightly confused and I am sorry to have never met you, Eddie Jr.., but I am sure your father can vouch for the fact that I was always a little confused on my best days anyway. You have a great father. I will always remember your father Eddie Sr as a fun, warm, hilarious guy and when he, Bob and Cousin Lou were together, it was often times an amazing thing to behold. Joe Bellulovich thoughtfully called me today and told me about the funeral and it is obvious to see that Bob had a perfectly appropriate and regal send off. Please give your father a hug of support for me. Sometimes there really are no words.

      • Anonymous says:

        Re: RIP BOBBY

        Hey yeah defintley vinny he remebers you very well. there really are no words to describe what im feeling ijus had a portrait made of boby and put it right above his father and my fathers father the other guidas who used to own the funeral home and passed and today ijus added him to the wall of guidas that passed and i never thuoght it would be that hard..

        and eddie lee honestly i wouldnt of wanted bobby with anybody else and im jus glad you were there and i know it was crazy but thanx for everything last weekend and remeber if you ever need anything and i can do anything jus please dont hesitate to call im always here now in bobbys chair everyday and im the youngest and last guida standing besides my father but hes just takin this hard but im trying to be strong for everyone as strongas i could be
        i just really wanna thank everyone for holding bobby up and making his music and memories live on because he might be gone but i hope hes never forgotten
        – Eddie Guida Jr

  10. Anonymous says:

    Bob’s Passing

    I knew Bob when he attended Marist College. He introduced me to blues, bootlegged records and a different way of listening to music. He was a warm gentle soul, bigger than life and scared to death of birds.
    I once asked him why he was so afraid of birds, “They move to fast.”

    I regret after he left Marist we lost contact. As when I knew him college, he was truly loved. My condolences to his wife Phyllis and family
    Bob Greene
    A Friend

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