Amid the many touching tributes to former Rhino and Apple Music executive Gary Stewart, who died on Thursday at the age of 62, there is one in particular that would have meant a great deal to him: A long and heartfelt post from Elvis Costello, one of Stewart’s all-time favorite artists and one who was a close personal friend.
“This morning’s brief promise of Spring was punctured by the news of the passing of Gary Stewart,” Costello wrote in a Facebook post today. “It is rare enough to find people of insight, kindness and loyalty but Gary had all these qualities in abundance. Friends have called or written all today trying to make sense of the impossible and the inexplicable.
“As the vocation of criticism has become more fragmented, spiteful and distracted, so people with Gary’s gift for advocacy needed to be valued,” he continues. “His appreciation of our work was immensely generous and deeply informed by personal emotion. With his help, I was encouraged to tell a broader tale as we compiled my catalogue for release on Rhino Records, augmenting the original albums with every outtake, sketch and mistake that I could find, all annotated until I’d run out of paper and ink. Our work together was clearly superior to both prior and subsequent editions.”
He also wrote about Stewart’s well-known habit of buying up a block of tickets for concerts he was particularly excited about, and then giving them out to friends he thought would enjoy them. “As an illustration of Gary’s generosity, when the Imposters and I brought our ‘Imperial Bedroom & Other Chambers’ tour to the Greek Theatre [in Los Angeles], Gary didn’t seek a place on the guest list to which he would have always been welcome but rather bought a stash of tickets to give to friends as that record had meant a lot to him and he wanted his pals to hear what we were up to with the songs after all these years. I even had to decline his offer of hosting a reception after the set, as I knew I had to sing the next night and talking into the small hours would be unwise. I know that when we return to the Greek in July, the band and I will pour a chaste glass and raise a toast to our friend.”
Read the full post below.