“He was the Mark Twain of my generation”


Billy Conway, drummer for the critically acclaimed rock band Morphine, died on December 19 at the age of 65. The drummer’s death was confirmed by Jeffrey Foucault via Rolling stone. Foucault was a friend and a member of Conway’s group, and he revealed that Conway died after losing his battle with cancer.

“Billy Conway was one of the best American drummers produced in the second half of the twentieth century”, Foucault Recount Rolling stone. “With his supernatural empathy and sensitivity, his dedication to simplicity and restraint, and his impossible spiritual power, he played the song, never the instrument, and when he played he was unmistakable. He embodied fierce love.

“But any description of his accomplishment misses the full measure of man. Billy was a great soul. He was relentlessly kind and open-hearted. He was gentle, slow to anger, quick to laugh and to laugh. praise. He was gentle in all things, strange and loved, magnetic and restless, and sort of haunted. People who once met him would remember him and notice him, and it was his strange magic to be the soul in whose presence wisdom could be revealed.

Prior to Conway’s collaboration with Foucault and drums for Morphine, Conway was part of the rock band Treat Her Right. Performing with this group was the first official setting where Conway and Mark Sandman combined their musical strengths. This duo, along with David Champagne and Jim Fitting, helped define Conway’s unique sound.

“We embraced less is more theory and focused on simplifying everything we did” Conway said in 2006. “If there were too many chords in the song, we would either remove them or skip that part of the song. We had a great regard for one-chord songs and strove to create simple, emotional music like our heroes — Muddy [Waters], [Howlin’] Wolf and Jimi Hendrix.

Conway was known for this simple, stripped-down style of performance, and he continued to create music even after cancer began to spread throughout his body. In 2020, Conway released his first solo album titled Inside Outside just two years after undergoing emergency surgery for bowel cancer.

“During a winter of enforced stoppage, thanks to the love and generosity of friends, [he] set up a home studio and over the months Billy finished the songs he had written for years in lodges, vans and hotels around the world, ”Conway’s label Crazy View Records said of of the disc.

Today, his friends and family continue to remember the prolific musician. “Billy believed in community above all else, and in the end he died in his own home, completely surrounded by love, embraced by the family of friends near and far who had gathered in his light. ” Foucault said. “The love he brought into the world will not be erased. It will take new forms, find new channels, and we will spend the rest of our days trying to live up to its example.

“He was always full of life,” said Dana Colley, member of the Morphine group. Recount Rolling stone. “The joy he expressed when he made music was so visually apparent that it was impossible not to have an effect on anyone in the room. The conversations were always about, “Have you seen that drummer? He lit up the room. His legacy will be found in several ways; there are so many aspects of who he was as a man, musician, friend, brother, husband, farmer and carpenter. He was the Mark Twain of my generation. He could have tea with the Queen or have a sip of tequila with the guy on the street the same day. You couldn’t help but gravitate towards Billy Conway and his energy.


Photo by Jim Steinfeldt / Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images


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