Gwnewch y pethau bychain

RIP: Robert Asprin

I’ve considered Bob Asprin a friend for some years. He was never a close friend, by any means. I don’t have the long history with him that many others in the community did. But we knew each other, spent many long hours talking at various conventions, and he was someone I liked and admired. I’m very sad to hear of his sudden passing.

Gafilk was very pleased to have him as our Guest of Honour at the fifth Gafilk in 2003. (We knew he’d never be able to turn down a fifth.) He was concerned when we invited him, because he hadn’t played music in public for a number of years, but we convinced him that we wanted to honour him for all he’d done for the early filk community. He was a blast, and afterwards he started showing up at more filking events in the southeast, which really made me happy.

Funny story about Bob from that Gafilk. Gafilk V was the second year that quadrivium was providing the banquet entertainment — at Gafilk IV she’d played solo, and when we asked her to do it again, she said she would but only if she could get some people to play with her. So the banquet that year featured her on piano, with kiltedwitch on bass and spambrian on drums. We were sitting at the head table with the rest of the concom and guests. As the performance really started to kick into gear, Bob started getting more and more agitated, and finally muttered “I can’t listen to this.” and got up and left the room. We were a bit baffled at this reaction. Later, he explained that he was nervous as hell at having to follow that with his own concert and had a good old fashioned stage-fright panic attack.

He needn’t have worried. He went up on stage, did his old material and had the audience in the palm of his hand. Bob Asprin was always a great showman. Towards the end, someone asked him about the Kipling cycle he often would perform in midwest circles, and he said “Oh yeah. I haven’t done those in years.” He then proceeded to do the entire cycle. Off book. Flawless.

Time to crack open the old favourites this weekend. Thanks for all the stories and the songs, Bob. My world is a bit smaller today, but all the richer for what you left behind.

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10 Comments

  1. He had a repetory that was days long….

    Filk back in the old days, didn’t have concerts with the performer on a stage in front of everyone, didn’t have mikes, formal recording stuff…. it was a bunch of people sitting around in a room, or a hotel area hopefully far enough from Authorities doing music, sometimes in a circle, sometimes not. I’m wondering now if I might somewhere perhaps have any pictures from Discon II in 1974 of that filksing with all the Dorsai songs (and with Jay Freeman escaping barely with skin intact, after singing, to the tune of Born Free, a satirical song starting out, “Dorsai, incredible Dorsai” and then proceeding to do Dorsai Irregular deflation with it.)

    Stage and recording equipment beyond personal consumer electronics at conventions, filk programming, filk guests of honor, filk conventions… were all far in the future. Filkers surreptitous congregated in hotel function rooms left unlocked, in room parties (which would then get noise complaints….), in corridor ends of hotels, and got kicked out of all sorts of places, it was rather guerrilla warfarish. Gordy Dickson and Kelly and Polly Freas and Poul Anderson were wont to show up, sometimes singing quite loudly, and then there was Joe Handleman singing “The Locked up for a Year in a Spaceship without no Women Blues.”

    The filk at Discon II, though, was the start of a change and evolution, that led to what filk is today.

    • Yeah, that was a bit before my time. Although — I first encountered filk in the 1980s, when I was wandering around a con hotel late at night and came across a room door propped open, with three guys playing music. I stopped to listen, they invited me in. It was another 10 years before I really became active in the filk community (for various reasons), that was where I first came in contact with it.

      I’ve been a part of a few guerilla filks in my day, even so. Good times.

    • Anonymous

      If you find any photos of the Discon II lobby filk, the Dorsai Irregulars would love copies/scans for our Archives.

      WebKahuna at DI.ORG

  2. Good god, what is Marcon doing to their guests of honor this year?

  3. With regards to what you said,

    AGREED!

  4. Wow. I only met him the once, at GaFilk, but really enjoyed his company. I guess the only appropriate thing to say is, he’ll be mythed.

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