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Secret Star: Robert Pollard Turns 60

bob old school

Long before anyone knew, Robert Pollard was making album covers for fantastical bands and filling the world with his undeniable pop wonderment. Luckily the secret broke in the early 90’s with a series of extraordinary releases and a fateful trip to New York City for a performance at CMJ’s New Music Seminar in 1993 with his drinking buddies from Dayton, OH. By the time I stumbled onto Guided By Voices I was serving as the music director at my college radio station and became immediately obsessed with the bands 7th LP, the outer worldly lo-fi pop opus, Bee Thousand. From there I was on a quest to obtain every song that had come before and everything that would come next. Like many, GBV was the band I was waiting for my entire life,  and Bob had a seemingly endless supply of tape hiss and arena hooks steeped with the 4 P’s of rock to fuel my fandom. I’ve had the good fortune to meet Bob on a few occasions and he has always been gracious and welcoming to his fans and devotees. In 2001 I was at my last stop on my decade long radio tour when I got to spend the day with band who was out supporting the recently released Isolation Drills LP. I got to tag along for their radio session that spring afternoon and managed to land the emcee gig for that nights show at The Paradise. I remember waiting in the wings with Bob just before they were about to take the stage when he turned to me with some advice, “when you introduce us don’t just call us Guided By Voices, we’re Guided By Fucking Voices. You gotta get the kids excited”. Needless to say that intro got me into a little hot water the next day, but I couldn’t care less. I just had the honor of welcoming Guided By Voices to the stage in my hometown under careful guidance from Bob. It was a surreal honor to say the least. With the recent one two punch of August By Cake and How Do You Spell Heaven? Both released this year. Bob shows no signs of slowing in fact these records prove that he is releasing some of his finest material. Is Bob Pollard Rock’s Greatest Living Songwriter? That friends, is an indisputable fact! In celebration of Robert Ellsworth Pollard’s 60th Birthday I have asked his band-mates, co-conspirators, and fans alike to share some thoughts as well as Birthday wishes.

Happy Birthday Bob! Thank you for continuing to knock us out with your melodies, hooks, and high-kicks!

Its been motivating over the years to witness Bob seize moments to be creative in certain situations. One great memory is the time we played Lexington at a newly renovated place with fresh drywall up in the green room. An 8-foot doorway-sized plank of Sheetrock was still in the room, leaning against the wall. Our sets are long, so what would be better for Bob to write his set-list on than that? He wrote the entire set-list on the piece of drywall then carried it out to the stage during our entrance like Moses with the Ten Commandments. He continues to inspire with spontaneous bursts of creative energy.

Doug Gillard – Guided By Voices – Guitarist

Pollard 1a

Recently one of my favorite songs is Everybody Thinks I’m A Raincloud (When I’m Not Looking), and favorite album(s)right now are Alien Lanes (just reminds me of when I really got into GBV, and how lucky I am to be playing with him now), and his solo album From a Compound Eye it is just incredible to me when I go back and listen to how amazing those songs are and the true force of Bob’s songwriting especially after The Electrifying Conclusion tour! I have so many great memories with Bob, but one that stands out is when I stayed with him and he would play all the songs on Half Smiles of the Decomposed every morning while we had coffee, and watching “Heavy Metal Parking Lot in slow motion ,I cherish that time with him!

The influence of GBV of Bob’s music, etc. Because Bob is such a prolific and truly a unique songwriter, I believe he influences all genres of music, film and visual art! He will always be discovered and change peoples lives with his music and live performances!

Kevin March – Guided By Voices, Drummer

2 responses to Secret Star: Robert Pollard Turns 60

  1. Mike White

    Love Bob. Changed my life. I’m totally screwed now with music and art. Glad to have him and deeply appreciative of all he has given to us. Long may he reign.

    Liked by 1 person

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