Bob Brozman, the steel-guitar innovator and ethnomusicologist who got his start playing on the streets of Santa Cruz, has died, according to his family. Though exact details have not yet been released, it appears he was discovered at home yesterday. He was 59.
A legend in the world of blues and roots music who integrated style from all around the world into his music, Brozman was one of Santa Cruz’s most beloved musical figures. His bold playing style was unmistakable, and his banter with the audience at his live shows gave him the opportunity not just to entertain with his sharp wit, but also challenge core assumptions about the function of rhythm and sound.
Born in New York on March 8, 1954, Brozman was a world traveller who seemed to thrive on collaborating with the best musicians he could find from many different musical traditions. His trademark guitar sound came from National steel guitars that he spent his life collecting, often joking that if he had to buy many of his most prized guitars again now, he couldn’t possibly afford them. He recorded over 20 albums, beginning with 1981’s Blue Hula Stomp. His most recent record was last year’s Fire in the Mind.