Rockbrat Remembers: Rick Blaze 1959 – 2011

Rick Blaze (Richard Bloise) passed away on the evening on August 9, 2011. I am saddened by Rick’s passing. I knew he had been experiencing poor health for several years, but am still shocked by his death, at only 52 years of age. Rick Blaze had been active on the East Coast scene, in particular the NYC and Massachusetts club scenes since the late 70s. He plied a style of rock ‘n’ roll that was heavily influenced by his musical hero, Johnny Thunders, but was also fused with a large dose of Stones’ style blues. Rick played in several bands throughout his career, but his most prominent outfit was The Ballbusters. I knew of Rick via Jeff Dahl, and in the mid 90’s managed to pick up the debut, self titled album by Rick Blaze and the Ballbusters. Talk about a killer album. This was an album so inspired by Thunders and the Big Apple you could almost taste it. Some people may know of Rick because he released a live album with Walter Lure on Dionysus records. Rick also had his own label, Glam Records. When my brother and I started up Vicious Kitten fanzine and then Vicious Kitten Records, having Rick on the label was a priority. It was a privilege to have Rick on Vicious Kitten Records. I did my utmost to promote the Ballbusters to anyone who was prepared to listen. Vicious Kitten Records manifesto was to promote artists around the world who primarily were inspired by Johnny Thunders. Jeff Dahl, Kevin K, Nikki Sudden and Freddy Lynxx were on board – and so too was Rick. The Ballbusters recorded two albums for Vicious Kitten Records, ‘Manhattan Babylon” in 1999 and the criminally ignored ‘People’s Republic Of Rock ‘n’ Roll” in 2001. I got to know Rick pretty well throughout that time – and also both Jeff Crane and Dave Cuneo of the Ballbusters (both good guys and superb guitar players). Rick and I spoke on the phone occasionally and corresponded a lot by letter, fax and email. Rick was an enthusiastic supporter in my vision of Vicious Kitten rock n roll domination. We talked enthusiastically about bands we’d like to have on compilation albums, or about other aspects of the business. I remember how happy he was when he received copies of the “People’s Republic” album and how impressed he was by the artwork. Rick was always giving of his time and always had time for up and coming bands he believed in- bands like Loose and the Valentines from Italy come to mind. Although it was ultimately not successful, he established a US branch of Vicious Kitten Records and managed to release “Rock ‘n’ Roll War Volume 2”. As my priorities in life have changed in recent years, I have not stayed in touch with Rick as often as I’d have liked. Yet I often think back to those days when he spoke enthusiastically to me about the Ballbusters and the endless possibilities for success. I always liked Rick’s enthusiasm. I’m sorry I didn’t get to tell him so before he died, but I’d like to think that he knew that I was big believer in Rick Blaze rock ‘n’ roll – and Rick Blaze the person. I am proud of the two Ballbusters albums he released on Vicious Kitten Records – and I hope he was too. They are superb rock records and should have been massive, but I know they are appreciated by discerning rock fans around the world. From the US and Italy to Japan to Spain, France and Germany – Rick Blaze will never be forgotten. I shall always think fondly of him when those records are playing. No one could ever doubt Rick’s commitment, sincerity and passion to push the rock ‘n’ roll he loved so dearly. Rick Blaze never made it to the big time – but he created inspired rock n roll that still sounds great today – and will still sound great in another ten or twenty years. Rest in peace my friend – you will never be forgotten. Forever rockin’ in New York City. Buy Rick Blaze albums here

9 thoughts on “Rockbrat Remembers: Rick Blaze 1959 – 2011

  1. Thanks for those kind words, Colin. In the last two days, I’ve been in touch with ex-Ballbusters bassists Carl Biancucci and Cathy Peters, as well as Dave Cuneo and Rick’s wife Debby, and shared this post with all of them. We’re still trying to take it all in… And you’re right when you refer to “People’s Republic” as “criminally ignored”. As a general rule, I grow to dislike most of what I record, but that album is just SO good! Beyond good, it’s excellent, if I’m honest! We knew we were onto something good while we were recording it. Listening to playbacks during the mixing sessions, we were saying things like, “If this doesn’t put us over the top, nothing will”. Sadly, musical tastes in the U.S. had moved on to rap, hip hop and disposable/interchangeable Pop Tarts like Brittany Spears and Christina Aguilera. We’ve always been thankful that Vicious Kitten took a chance on us when so many others turned away. We’re in your debt.
    -Jeff Crane

  2. I too knew Rick since the late 70’s, he would call me once or twice a year saying he was ready to surrender, but kept going back to the dangerous why of life. I won’t sugar coat it, the real shame was this could have been avoided. If your still playing the same games you were in the 70’s and 80’s remember Rick and find a new way to live.

  3. Besides talent, Rick had heart and made me laugh. knew him since he moved to Worcester in the late 80s. yeah, Jimmy is right. sad, but Rick’s suffering is over. Also, Rick’s last European tour may have had crazy mis-haps but he was proud he had tons of fans all over Europe. I think his last tour was a good ending to his career.

  4. Jimmy,
    Why do you find it necessary to imply that ” a dangerous way of life” had something to do with Ricks passing. For your information, Rick had an incurable gastrointestinal syndrome. This lead to a significant loss of weight over the last year of his life and weakened his immune system. He ultimately died of pneumonia. He was misdiagnosed and spent countless months trying to find medical treatment that would save his life both in his hometown of Worcester and in New York City. He could have been saved if he had better health insurance, because he needed to see a gastrointestinal surgeon that he had a consult with and recommended a surgery that he was afraid to have, but ultimately decided to undergo but his primary doctor refused him a referral back to the specialist.
    I think I should know more than anyone what struggles Rick had in his lifetime, and while I do not dispute he had his demons to contend with, he did not die from drugs as you so slyly imply!!!

    I knew Rick better than anyone, I am his sister and I saw first hand what happened to him in the end. I spoke to the coroner and I know the reasons why he died.

    Maybe it isn’t as romantic to the music scene to report he died from complications from gastroparesis and pneumonia, but my brother wanted to live and fought every day to try and stay here. He loved life and he loved his family and his friends, and we know how much he struggled. So go and fuck yourself for your comment about my brother because you know shit about the real Rick Blaze.

  5. I met Rick Blaze years ago when He was Doing some original music with some old friends and fellow songwriters (Rick Cormier,Glenn Sargent,Dave Bates,Don Cox)they called It “The Blazing Angels”.I thought they sounded Great ,plus the had some Great songs.I thought ‘man,If these Guy’s don’t make It Some things Wrong, Well I don’t Know What happened ,when they broke up but that’s probably personal I Know First hand of all the Demons A musician is exposed to.I have been a musician 50 years.(sober for 3)I always joke and say being around alcohol and drugs is an Occupational Hazard in the “Business”,Well sometimes People start to stereotype us musicians. But I know Rick had control of his Demons the last time I spoke to him,not to long before his tragic Death,He said he was trying to spend more time with his Family,I was Shocked when I heard of his passing My DEEPEST SYMPATHY goes out to His Mom,Jackie,Wife Debby,And the rest of his Family and best Friends.If there is ANY THING I can do for you Please feel free to get in touch with me. Roger Rosenlund tel#508-459-1983-cell#508-736-3119 God Is Listening To RICKS-RANT.

  6. Mr. Rockbrat, thanks for the kind words about my friend Rick Blaze. I was in a band with him prior to the Ballbusters. I co-wrote THE BALLAD OF JOHNNY THUNDERS with him. Classic 50-50 he heard me playing the music and started singing the lyric right away. He was a great guy, very loyal friend. Living in Mass I don’t have anybody to share the ups and downs of the NY Jets with anymore. By far my favorite of many bandmates I had thru the years. I fulfilled a promise to him. He said If he went first I had to write a song called SAD VCATION III about him. I hope you can hear it someday. Thanks again for the kind words about our departed brother.
    Rick Cormier Worcester, MA


  8. I have memory of Ricko from 1979 I still laugh about when I think about it I was on a nuclear missel base in Germany I was ordered to report to the first Sargent office when I get there my first Sargent ‘platoon Sargent ‘and a mail clerk all staring at me they hand me a letter from Ricko the letter had lumps in it I was thinking OH SHIT I hoped he didn’t send me pot cause I would be in a lot of trouble I had to open the letter in front of them all inside there was bird seed with a note say if I got a hamster I would have some food to feed it. Briggs

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