Rod Poole 1962-2007


Welcome to the new home of the Rod Poole Memorial.

Rod Poole 1962-2007
Rod Poole 1962-2007, reviews
Mel’s Slay Suspects Sentenced
Daddy From Hell
Rod Poole 1962-2007, Guardian obit
Rod Poole 1962-2007 bio
recommendations by Rod Poole
Rod Poole 1962-2007, photos I
Rod Poole 1962-2007, photos II
Rod Poole 1962-2007, photos III
Rod Poole 1962-2007, reviews II
Nels Cline on Rod Poole
Rod Poole – December 96
Rod Poole/Sasha Bogdanowitsch – Mind’s Island
Rod Poole, Nels Cline and Jim Mcauley – Acoustic Guitar Trio
Drones and Dreams
Between the Strings
Rod Poole – the Death Adder


portrait 2Killer of guitarist Rod Poole sentenced
Published: Oct. 8, 2008 at 10:48 AM

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 8 (UPI) — The wife of guitarist Roderick Poole called her husband a champion of the underdog during the Los Angeles sentencing of his killer.

Michael Sheridan was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the May 2007 stabbing death of Poole during a dispute that began when Poole yelled at Sheridan after he and his wife nearly ran over another man in the parking lot of a Hollywood diner.

The Los Angeles Times said Wednesday that Lisa Ladaw told the courtroom that Poole hadn’t been looking for trouble when they went to Mel’s Drive-in to celebrate Mother’s Day but shouted at Sheridan after he bumped into a restaurant employee in the lot.

Sheridan was convicted of stabbing Poole six times with a steak knife and then speeding away with his wife behind the wheel and young son sitting in the back seat.

“He would speak for the underdog, he would speak for people who needed to be defended,” Ladaw said of Poole.

The Times described the British-born Poole as a fixture in the Los Angeles experimental music scene who had been focused on composing in recent years.

Couple sentenced in Mother’s Day stabbing of guitarist

Husband is given 15 years to life while his wife gets three years for fatal confrontation in diner parking lot over a near-accident with a restaurant employee.

By Jack Leonard
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

October 8, 2008

Walking across the parking lot of a Hollywood diner, Roderick Poole was on his way to dinner with his wife on Mother’s Day when a car backed out of a parking space and bumped into a restaurant worker standing nearby.

“Watch it!” Poole called out. The vehicle’s driver apologized to the worker but exchanged angry words with Poole.

In the next few moments, the car’s driver and her husband assaulted Poole before speeding off with their young son in the back seat, leaving the English-born guitarist lying in the parking lot clutching his stomach. Poole, 45, had been fatally stabbed.

On Tuesday, Poole’s wife stood in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom and confronted the couple convicted in the killing, telling the court that her husband had not been looking for a fight that May 2007 evening but was trying to speak up for a stranger.

“He would speak for the underdog, he would speak for people who needed to be defended,” Lisa Ladaw said as friends wept quietly in the audience behind her. “He was my best friend. He was my life.”

During an emotional hearing, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael E. Pastor sentenced Michael and Angela Sheridan to separate prison terms, describing their actions as “cowardly” and unprovoked.

“The conduct is egregious beyond words,” Pastor said as he sentenced Michael Sheridan to 15 years to life for second-degree murder. “The victim in this case, Mr. Poole, was particularly vulnerable at the time he was attacked brutally by Mr. Sheridan.”

Michael Sheridan, 27, was accused of stabbing Poole with a wooden-handled steak knife. But Pastor described Sheridan’s wife as the “provocateur” in the confrontation and sentenced her to three years in prison for involuntary manslaughter.

Minutes before receiving her sentence, Angela Sheridan, a 26-year-old file clerk at a downtown law firm, apologized for her actions. Sitting in dark blue jail scrubs with her hands cuffed behind her, she asked Poole’s family for forgiveness and pleaded for leniency from the judge.

“I’m so sorry this has happened,” she said, reading from a statement. “I never thought my decision to get out of the car would have such a tragic outcome.”

Her defense attorney argued that her client had snapped that night because Poole called her “bitch,” but she never intended to kill him.

Michael Sheridan, slim with short dark hair and a thin mustache, sat through the hearing in silence. His attorney told the judge that Sheridan had taken his wife, their son and his mother to Mel’s Drive-In to celebrate Mother’s Day that evening without any thought of violence.

Deputy Public Defender Alba N. Marrero said her client felt the need to act in defense of his family during the confrontation with Poole and did not deserve to be convicted of murder.

“We know no one takes the whole family somewhere on Mother’s Day with the intention to kill,” Marrero said.

Sandra Sheridan, Michael’s mother, begged the judge to show mercy. She said she had been the one who suggested the family go to the Hollywood diner when her son offered to take her out for Mother’s Day.

“You don’t know how much I regret that,” she said. “Mother’s Day for me doesn’t exist anymore because of this.”

In the audience, friends of Poole bristled at one point when an aunt of Michael Sheridan told the court that Poole’s wife should have shown better judgment and stopped her husband from intervening.

During the trial earlier this year, Deputy Dist. Atty. Steve Dickman presented security camera footage that showed Poole walking away from the Sheridans three times before the couple finally attacked him.

Witnesses said they heard Angela Sheridan tell him “I could kill you” several times before the assault began. And they testified they saw her hit Poole in the head and kick him while her husband appeared to punch him in the chest. An autopsy later showed Poole was stabbed six times.

Richard Grunauer, a former business partner of Poole, told the judge that his friend — who was 5 feet, 10 inches tall and weighed 157 pounds — would have posed no threat that evening.

“He was a skinny little English kid with a heart of gold,” Grunauer said.

Several friends described Poole as a talented guitarist and a fixture of the Los Angeles experimental music scene who devoted his life to his wife and his craft. Grunauer said his friend’s encyclopedic knowledge of jazz and blues had helped him make friends across the globe.

In the last two years before his death, Poole had stopped performing so that he could focus on composing.

“Rod was a pioneer of music,” said his friend Jessica Catron. “He was developing an extremely complex and beautiful art form. . . . Because his life was cut short, the world will never know the importance of his music.”

To all our friends,

The verdict was given this afternoon. The young man was convicted of murder in the 2nd degree which has a sentence of 15 to life. He will go to jail at least for 15 years and be up for parole after that. The Deputy District Attorney has stated that with his previous actions and his demeanor, he will probably stay in jail longer, possibly for life.

The young woman was convicted of involuntary manslaughter which carries a sentence of 4 to 6 years, which will be decided upon by the judge.

The sentencing will take place on July 11th at 8:30 AM in Department 107, 9th Floor, 210 W. Temple Street (Criminal Courthouse – newly christened the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center just today). The DDA encouraged all of Rod’s friends and family to be there to address the court and note how their killing of Rod has affected their lives – whether in person or to write letters. This is called the “Victim Impact Statement.”

For those of you who cannot make it physically and would like to send a letter or statement, you can e-mail or mail them to me – – address the letter to the court – – The Honorable Michael Pastor, Department 107. I need to give them to the DDA to review before he hands them to the judge. This is the time your voice and pain to be heard and if you have the heart to send a letter or be there in person in honor of Rod.

Thank you all for supporting me during these trying times. It has been a long painful process and without your kind words of support and positive energy, I don’t think I could have survived this ordeal. Rod would have been so honored and proud to see just how wonderful you all have been this past year.

I believe justice has been served.

All my best and love to all of you,
Lisa Ladaw Poole
June 13, 2008

Guitarist Rod Poole pushed the envelope on music In the wake of his tragic death, friends remember ‘a true artist’ who loved to explore new sounds.

By Greg Burk
Special to The Times
May 19, 2007

Guitarist Jim McAuley had no trouble this week recalling his first meeting with fellow guitarist Rod Poole. It was at the home of Nels Cline, well before the three recorded their “Acoustic Guitar Trio” album.

“I was standing in Nels’ kitchen, sipping coffee, when these amazing crystalline tones emerged from the living room,” McAuley said. “Rod Poole was just tuning up, and already I was mesmerized by his sound.”

Cline, a key player in L.A.’s experimental music scene and now a member of Wilco, described Poole as “a true artist, probably a genius” in a note on his website, posted after Poole was stabbed to death on Sunday in the parking lot of Mel’s Drive-In.

His wife, Lisa Ladaw-Poole, was there when it happened.

The couple was walking toward the restaurant, after attending a concert at the Dangerous Curve art gallery downtown, when a car nearly struck them and other pedestrians. The musician spoke up; the vehicle’s driver and passenger both got out, the latter allegedly with a knife, according to police. A half hour later, Poole died.

A security camera provided images that led to the quick arrest of Michael and Angela Sheridan. They were arraigned Wednesday.

Ladaw-Poole fielded a lot of phone calls this week, many of them from the parents of Poole’s guitar students who hadn’t gotten the news and were wondering why he didn’t show up for their children’s guitar lessons.

“These children loved Rod,” Ladaw-Poole said Wednesday. “He was really kind with them.”

Poole was a highly unusual guitarist, equally drawn to the distorted sound bombs of Jimi Hendrix and the spontaneous microcosmic tracings of Derek Bailey.

“I never could quite figure out how one man with one guitar could generate such an all-enveloping aural space,” said Devin Sarno, an electronic drone artist who recorded Poole twice for Sarno’s W.I.N. label.

Having left his native England in 1989 to find a more exploratory climate, Poole fell in with a devoted cloister of Los Angeles pathfinders that included Kraig Grady, Brad Laner and Motor Totemist Guild.

Grady, who composes in microtonal scales that employ the frequencies between Western music’s traditional 12 tones, introduced Poole to his own mentor, Erv Wilson. Wilson is a pioneer in microtonal music and “just” intonation, which tunes to vibrations’ natural mathematical ratios rather than the tempered scales used in orchestras.

Never one to take halfway measures, Poole lived in Wilson’s house for more than five years and emerged with his own way of hearing.

He had a Martin guitar re-fretted to 17 tones and, using his already precise, shaded finger-picking technique, began improvising trance-bound variations on spacious arpeggios that could extend until time vanished.

Poole’s solo, group and bowed-guitar recordings have appeared on the W.I.N., Transparency and Incus labels (the last being Bailey’s imprint).

Poole’s music was the first and last thing heard Wednesday on KXLU-FM’s (88.9) “Trilogy” show, this night hosted by old Motor Totemist friends Emily Hay and Lynn Johnston.

Pinging and plucking, gently contracting and expanding, with “just” harmonies fluttering their intangible physicality throughout, the improvisation exuded an uncanny sense of peace. In contrast to its quiet beauty, it was titled “The Death Adder.”

Earlier in the day, Johnston described Poole as “a low-key guy — he was only in your face about music.”

Two words that surfaced repeatedly when people talked about Poole’s artistic temperament were “passion” and “intensity.”

Experimental guitarist Jeremy Drake, a curator of the “Sound” concerts at Schindler House in West Hollywood, wrote on a Poole tribute site: “Rod was always fully present. Good mood or bad, you got the full Rod Poole experience whenever he was in the room.”

Cindy Bernard, a primary “Sound” series organizer, said Poole was extremely meticulous about the many recordings he engineered for the series’ archive: “It’s rare to know someone whose enthusiasm for music is so pure.”

Instrumentalist and composer Vinny Golia, long the most pervasive influence in this city’s edge-music community, agreed. Poole once recorded a performance Golia had done with German bassist Peter Kowald. When Golia wanted a copy, Poole broke down his equipment, carried it over to Golia’s house and made the transfer there, not wanting to take any chances that the copy wouldn’t be perfectly compatible with Golia’s system.

Guitarist Carey Fosse, who knew Poole mainly in Poole’s transitional period of the early ’90s, called him “a wonderful improviser, very disciplined, and with beautiful articulation. I think his technique led him to areas he hadn’t imagined.”

Poole had been disappointed by the lack of opportunities to play forward-thinking music in Los Angeles. Though he had made few live appearances for several years, Bailey’s death in late 2005 inspired him to help fill what he felt to be an artistic gap.

Poole’s wife said he had been working on “just”-intonated interpretations of Irish folk songs, and that the noted film sound mixer Giovanni Di Simone had made new recordings of him.

Grady recently received an invitation to perform at a microtonal festival in Germany and was asked if he could help extend the offer to Poole.

He will be there in spirit.

Ladaw-Poole said she will take her husband’s ashes back to England. A memorial service is being planned.

Couple charged in musician’s slaying
by Richard Winton, Times Staff Writer
May 17, 2007
A husband and wife were charged Wednesday in the fatal stabbing of a musician outside a Hollywood restaurant, authorities said.

Michael Hermen Sheridan, 25, and Angela Cherie Sheridan, 24, are accused of attacking and killing Roderick Poole during an altercation Sunday in the parking lot of Mel’s Drive-In, in the 1600 block of Highland Avenue. The couple appeared in a downtown courtroom Wednesday on the charges and were being held in lieu of $1-million bail each.

Michael Sheridan is also charged with the special-circumstances crime of using a knife.

According to authorities, Angela Sheridan nearly hit Poole and a valet about 9:45 p.m. as she backed her white Honda Civic. The Sheridans exchanged words with Poole, 45, who was walking with his wife, and then jumped out of the car. They began punching Poole, before Michael Sheridan pulled a knife and allegedly stabbed him several times, authorities said. The couple then drove away.

Poole was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he died a short time later.

Authorities said the parking lot has a security camera system that may have captured the attack. Detectives were able to trace the Civic and arrested the Sheridans.

Friends said Poole was a native of Britain. The musician and guitarist was well known in Los Angeles’ experimental music scene.

Pair held in fatal stabbing
By Richard Winton, LA Times Staff Writer
May 15, 2007

Police have arrested a husband and wife on suspicion of stabbing a 45-year-old man to death in the parking lot of a well-known Hollywood eatery.

The incident occurred about 9:45 p.m. Sunday in the parking lot of Mel’s Drive-In in the 1600 block of Highland Avenue. Officers answered a call of an assault with a deadly weapon and found Roderick Poole, 45, with multiple stab wounds. He was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he died at 10:06 p.m.

Poole, of Hollywood, was walking with his wife when he got into an argument with a woman in a car, said Los Angeles Police Det. Larry Cameron. Witnesses told police the woman, with her husband, nearly ran over Poole.

They exchanged words and the couple allegedly attacked Poole, police said. Michael Sheridan, 25, allegedly stabbed Poole several times before the pair drove off, investigators said.

“This was incredibly dumb,” said Cameron, referring to how a minor disagreement turned into a killing.

Detectives later arrested Sheridan and his wife, Angela Sheridan, 24, both of Los Angeles. They were being held in lieu of $1-million bail each.

Hollywood, among the city’s safer areas, has seen a 5% increase in violent crime so far in 2007. Poole’s killing was the sixth in the district this year.

A word from Sasha Bogdanowitsch:

Dear Rod,

Words are difficult to find to describe the music we shared. In the 14 or so years we knew each other we didn’t meet much due to distance, but when we did it was intense. We were inspired by each other’s music early on and began recording our improvisations with voice and guitar early on and continued every time I came to Los Angeles. The memories of those long hours commiting gorgeous music in your apartment to tape with the windows shut and fans turned off, Bags, your cat, jingling in the background and the occasional outside noise adding to our music making will be etched in my memory always. We always thought there was more to come after our recent CD, Mind’s Island.

We were talking of plans just the other week of working on new material and concerts.

May your music continually resound in our hearts.

All the peace of the universe to you Rod………
Your friend always,

A word from Kraig Grady:

Rod and I had spend many years together and at one time we represented the microtonal community of Los Angeles.

We shared many concerts, playing together albeit not enough, and many of the struggles of dealing with a new music community that couldn’t figure out how to place us.

He was an exceptional guitar player and worked with a refretted Martin tuned to a 17 tone 7-limit tuning he had worked out.

While his work was often criticized for being repetitive, I found his work exceptionally mesmerizing and innovative.

He was more concerned with exploring the nature of what tuning offered than in filling in former styles with new intervals.

He was more like an artist who say, when they work with glass, are more concerned with what glass does, than trying to make it do what other materials traditionally might. He was not one to look back which could be heard in how radically different his earlier 12-tone guitar music sounded.

He was a constant explorer, experimenting with different open string tunings, and a great variety of techniques, constantly changing timbres within his finger picking style.

I don’t think a single day went by when he didn’t play for over an hour or two.

I had just given someone in Berlin his e-mail who was attempting to contact him about playing there.

Kraig Grady

I feel very, very sad for the deeply tragic loss of amazing guitarist Rod Poole, quite horrible and unimaginable that something like this could happen to the new music community.
His music and albums on Win Records have a very special place in my heart.

All the strength for you and the relatives, friends of Rod.

With kind regards,
Mark van de Voort

My name is Doug Theriault and I would like to make a few comments. I have been an experimental guitarist for the last 18 years. I never met Mr. Poole, but I was very familiar with his music. He is the only improvising acoustic guitarist besides Derek Bailey that came up with a language all his own (at least in my mind). Sure, you knew where he was coming from (microtonal music) but if you listen to enough new music, you know that Rod’s music was very special and in a class all by itself. How I originally found out about Rod was randomly going through the used bin at the record store. When I found his music I had to have it all. I knew that he was someone who was completely original and had thought about his approach for years.
I wish I could have talked to him. His music is all we have and that does not seem to be enough.

My thoughts go out to his family and friends.

Doug Theriault

Roderick, or should I say Wodewick:

Well, mate, it’s time to fare thee well, adieu, so long, and all the best to you.

It’s hard to believe that you’ve flown the coop, it seems like you were just here, chuckling over the Derek & Clive send up of Fireball XL5.

Thanks for all the good memories: S.H.A.D.O. Dinky toys, burning the chalice with Sun Ra’s Arkestra, your vigorous defence of vinyl versus digital, you ringing me up @ KPFK @ 330am, thanking me for playing “Yoo Doo Right” by Can, while you were zooming around on the freeway system in your Dodge Colt.

I’m still glad that you liked my shepherd’s pie so much, you came back for more. Thanks for letting me record you, back in the old days with King Dahl, Lynn Johnston, and Tim Crockett. Many, many thanks for the unreleased AMM recordings. I’m honoured to have learned from you about just intonation, microtonality, and Pythagoras.

Thanks for your humourous observations about West Los Angeles, New York City, and Poole, Dorset. Remember when we went to Berkeley to see Derek Bailey? And what happened to all those photos that I took of the two of you, together, two geezers enjoying the California sunshine. Thanks for all your expressions, like “Pretty Damn Good”, or PDG, for short.

Thanks for tolerating my short-lived foray into electro-acoustic sound with David Poyourow. Thanks for turning me on to Joseph Spence, from the Bahamas. And thanks for sharing all the cups of tea together.

Remember when we found those ancient unreleased movie posters for Rainbow Bridge? And those cool flyers for the “Pyle O’ Shytt” party in Wales? Remember when I explained the significance of “Studebaker Hawk” to you?

I wish I had a penny for all the times we disagreed on virtually anything. I’d be rich then, me boyo.

All The Best.
Bruce Hollihan

I’m so sorry to hear the horrible news of Rod Poole’s passing. So unnecessary and tragic. very depressing. I’ve been playing Rod’s music all day. My condolences go out to his family and friends.
Ernesto Diaz-Infante


bob banana marley splits
Rod –

Last we spoke, not too long ago – at LACE and giving you a ride home – I had made you laugh with the newly-acquired information I had received regarding Bob Marley’s Buffalo Soldier tune. A Banana Splits fan, Marley slowed down the tv show’s La la la, la la la la, la la la, la la la la la to Woy yoy yoy, yoy yoy yoy yoy, yoy yoy yoy, yoy yoy yoy yoy yoy, and note for note! I consider you my checkpoint for progress as you were my first friend upon moving back to L.A. in 1989. Seeing you was a reminder that we had definitely gone through some bleak times living in North Hollywood, each without a job and sponging off our parents for sustenance…….. I did not share your obsession with Remington Steele at the time and sometimes we differed as to where to go for meals, I always being a bit of a snob (although your homemade curry was somehow impressive). You could spend more than two minutes in conversation with my father, a true feat of courage. I sometimes wondered whether it was a meeting of irascible minds. Your recording collection is awe-inspiring. I got a couple of rarities – Roscoe Mitchell and Henry Threadgill – onto tape long ago from you. I only wish I’d gotten more…. There was something you said when I asked you who your influences were and it just stuck with me over the years. You answered with a couple of well-known guitarists, but then paused and asked me if I could guess who else. “Um, no,” I said, thinking, oh, gosh, who’d you not mention? There was a shiny smirk crossing your face. “Me.”

Love from Richie West

One of my favorite things about Rod was that he was always fully present. Good mood or bad, you got the full Rod Poole Experience whenever he was in the room. One of the first things he would ask when I would see him was what I had “been up to” and I could tell by his eyes that the question was absolutely sincere.
Rod played four (maybe five) times at Line Space Line (just finished listening to the recording of “Voice of the Bowed Guitar” from Sept 23, 2002 at Salvation Theater with Joseph Hammer and Douglas Williford). His solo guitar performance at LSL was one of my all-time favorite shows of the series. His music was super beautiful, performed with a focus that touched upon transcendence.

I feel lucky to have been able to help make his music public and to have known such a unique and complex man. He was intense and uncompromising, salty and (bitter)sweet and I will always miss him.

Jeremy Drake

Rod was very generous and dedicated. He was passionate about music and the people who make it and although this sometimes caused him to seem obstinate on certain points, one always knew that it was born from a rigorous set of ethics.
He performed as a part of the sound. concert series three times, twice solo at Sacred Grounds and once with Voice of the Bowed Guitar at the very first concert I organized at the Schindler House (this was pre-SASSAS).

He was exacting about his music. We once had quite a contentious discussion about the excerpts on “soundCd no. 1” – whether they should have a hard start or fade in. He insisted on a hard start and I think was always a little suspicious that I’d sneaked in just a little bit of a fade.

Rod was as precise about recording sound – he was an integral part of SASSAS and the “sound.” concert series for many years, recording almost every “sound.” concert from 1999 – 2006 as well the Blast fundraisers and the Nam June Paik memorial. In the early days, he even donated his time. The online archive of the “sound.” series wouldn’t exist without Rod’s dedication to documenting the concerts.

All of the musicians he worked with through SASSAS genuinely appreciated the intelligence he brought to listening and recording. Rod would often invite me as well as the musicians and composers he recorded over to his apartment to listen to the recordings with him – he was particularly proud of a recording of James Tenney performing John Cage’s “Sonatas and Interludes for prepared piano” and spoke fondly of sharing time with Jim while listening to it.

Rod told me that he was so excited by Tetuzi Akiyama’s performance, that after packing up his dat machine and mics, he went home, listened to the tapes he’d just made, then stayed up all night improvising. I don’t think this was an isolated occurrence – he really had that level of passion for playing, recording and listening. It’s rare to know someone whose enthusiasm for music is so pure and it’s that aspect of Rod I will miss the most.

SASSAS has some of Rod’s music on line:

and theres a very brief excerpt of voice of the bowed guitar here:

Cindy Bernard

I would like to say a few words about Rod. I did not know the man very well, but I feel like he played an important role in my own personal development as a musician.

Several years ago, when I was just starting to become involved with the experimental music community of Los Angeles, I interviewed Rod for the program guide of the radio station I worked for. Exchanging words with him, and seeing him perform solo and with the Acoustic Guitar Trio, with Nels Cline and Jim McCauley, was one of my inspirations in departing from equal temperament at a time. To this day, I have always made use of microtonality in performance, whether explicit or obscured. This is partly because Rod Poole helped to demonstrate the power of developing every aspect of one’s own musical vocabulary in a detailed, complete and personal way.

Rod’s intensity and dedication was apparent and inspiring, the several times we crossed paths in the intervening years. I personally will miss this man, and forever regret that I was never able to express to him the impact that he had on my life and my work.

David Kendall

my first vivid memory of rod is connected with one of the weirdest projects i’ve ever been involved in. several years ago, nels cline was asked to put together something for the LA weekly music awards. nels’ typically ambitious idea was to do the old yardbirds classic “over under sideways down” performed by a large number (6?) of guitarists plus drums. right now, i don’t even remember who else was in the group but i will never forget rod’s participation. most of us were electric except for rod who had a pickup but remained adamantly “acoustic” in spite of the electric nature of the piece. i will also never forget the intensity he brought to the performance in spite of the almost surrealistic and absurd atmosphere. el vez was the host and it was totally wack and disorganized. rod was so focused and serious about his playing it was fascinating to me. i was blown away by the level of intensity that he brought to the performance that night and from what i can tell everything he did.

oddly enough my wife and i ran into rod and lisa at a concert at dangerous curve the day he was killed. i hadn’t seen him in a long while and i was immediately reminded of how much i really really loved who rod was. his awareness and intensity as well as his commitment to his art were so amazing. he told me he was really happy about his program of practicing 4 hours a day. i joked with him about it but rod was very serious about his playing. that kind of commitment is rare in the world. several times during the show i looked over at rod and lisa sitting together and noticed that they were holding each other’s hands. i remembered thinking how happy they looked. it was really great to see him after so long but it also makes his loss more difficult for me now.

this is a tragedy in every sense of the word. for someone like rod to lose his life in this way is beyond senseless. i offer my love and support to all of rod’s family and friends. there is a long tough road ahead for lisa. i ask everyone who knows her to send their support and love now and in the months and years to come.
g.e. stinson

I first met Rod Poole at Nels Cline’s house at the first and only rehearsal of the Acoustic Guitar Trio. I remember standing in Nels’ kitchen sipping coffee when these amazing crystalline tones emerged from the living room. Rod Poole was just tuning up, and already I was mesmerized by his sound. It was always thrilling playing with Rod. The sound of his guitar’s microtonal overtones shimmering in the air was incredibly inspiring, and the trio collectively reached some pretty ecstatic musical heights.
But it’s in his solo work that Rod’s uniqueness is most evident. He created a style of playing that defies classification yet seems entirely natural. He could spin a single idea into an hour-long improvisation of constantly changing arpeggiated figures. And he had equisite control of tone, dynamics and phrasing. His right hand technique alone would be the envy of most classical guitarists.

Rod’s wide-ranging interests attracted many friends, and he loved to communicate and share his knowledge. We would sometimes talk for hours; politics, music, film (Buster Keaton & Dr. No were particular favorites). Rod had informed opinions on practically any subject. And beneath his somewhat formal manner he was a truly passionate being filled with love for his wife Lisa, his friends, his cat and of course his mammoth vinyl record collection.

The last time I spoke to Rod, he talked excitedly about a new musical direction he was pursuing. We made plans to get together so I could hear, among other things, some Irish tunes he was working on. He had even decided to return to performing publicly after a couple years’ hiatus. One of the most tragic aspects of Rod’s untimely death was that his audience is now deprived of hearing this new material live. For reasons that seemed important at the time–conflicting schedules, etc–we kept delaying that get-together, and now I can only regret that I didn’t get to hear him play one more time.

When Rod made the conscious decision to limit his playing to his living room, I told him that LA would be a sadder place without a Rod Poole concert to look forward to. Now I guess the whole world will be a little sadder. Rod played with commitment, integrity and passion, and he will undoubtedly be an inspiration to many future generations of guitarists.

Jim McAuley

I first met Rod right when he moved to Los Angeles. I was eleven or twelve and he was helping my grandparents a round their house (amongst other odd jobs) to support himself while working on his music. Later on, when I moved down to LA and started going out to shows pretty much every musician I ever talked to about Rod agreed that he was one of the most talented guitar players they had known. I have many funny memories of Rod from his visits to my grandparent’s house over the years, but what I remember the most about him is how impassioned he was about politics and his sense of justice, especially for those who had less in society. It saddens me greatly to know this passion has been silenced by such a senseless and violent moment.

Martha Webber

Rod lived in the same fourplex as me, on Emelita Street in North Hollywood, in late 1989, early 1990. After he moved to elsewhere in Los Angeles, he returned one day and befriended me.
We went to many parties together during the early 1990’s. One of my favorites was Andrea Jungert’s party, where Rod met Jon Beaupre. Later, Jon hosted one of Rod’s beautiful performances at his home in Mount Washington.

He loved the Pantry restaurant in downtown. Cartoonist Tom Mostrom, Rod, and I frequently went to the Pantry, in typical L.A. fashion — driving miles just to eat at a special place .

My disabling depressive illness prevented me from reuniting with this old pal since we lost touch in 1995. Now I lost my chance . . .

John A. Mozzer

I am deeply saddened to read about the passing of Rod Poole, sitting here in Tokyo, I had just had a conversation about Rod after my last gig…just 5 days ago..I was looking forward to contact him upon returning to the states…I can`t express correctly enough my disgust at how people could be capable of such violence, such stupidity. Rest in Peace, Rod Poole, your music is immortal, at the same time stupidity and violence will continue and I sit here dumbfounded, wondering if there is even anything I could do at all…..
-philip gayle

That’s so, so, sad, how horrid !, dear Rod, news and the manner of your passing visits such great sadness, but even as I write this your brilliance, the power of your gaze, the purity of your sound, warms me, we will remember, dear friend, We will remember.

Keith Rowe

How does something like this happen? And why? It’s incomprehensible. But the end result is that we have lost a dear friend, an exceptionally talented and innovative musician and a kind, wonderful, passionate human being.
Rod and Lisa were at our show at Dangerous Curve on Sunday, a mere 3 hours before this tragedy took place. We hadn’t seen much of Rod lately, and we were pleasantly surprised and grateful that he and Lisa made it to our gig that day. It was a chance to catch up with each other’s goings on, and as always Rod was full of fire and enthusiasm. It’s inconceivable to think that a few hours later Rod would be taken from us. When something like this happens in such close proximity, you wonder what could have been done to change the course. What if we had invited him out for pizza after the gig? What if we had chatted another 10 minutes? But it doesn’t work that way. It’s a random universe, and things don’t always happen for a reason. Sometimes they just happen. It’s useless to try to make sense of a senseless act. Instead, we need to honor a life lived and let it reflect in our own lives.

We can’t even begin to imagine the pain Lisa and Rod’s family are going through. We only hope there is some comfort gained in the knowledge that Rod was well loved and respected by the music community and everyone else that knew him. His music and sounds and spirit will remain in our hearts and minds and ears always.

Much love to you, dear Rod.
Joe Berardi and Kira Vollmann
Non Credo

Thoughts On Rod Poole

On this Thursday May 17, 2007, I was wondering what the hell I was going to do at 1:00 P.M.

That’s when Rod Poole and I worked weekly together listening/trading/selling/upgrading/sharing/gifting/downloading rare music.

We listened to music over a catered lunch, libations, talk of music shows and in particular looking for those rarest of shows, the kind of music

Where the light shimmers and sounds transcend time and space.

We both wanted to hear a show from beginning to end.

No one else can sit with me and listen to a whole show, critique it and read up on it from even rarer music book bibles.

Rod knew matrix numbers, memorized dates, times, song orders and unique characteristics of each show.

Rod knew everything of Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Coltrane, Davis, Sun Ra, and experimental music and then that’s scratching just the surface.

Moving more deeply into the musical wave, sipping on tea or coffee for hours, looking up to discuss, many times in non-verbal communication.

So 1:00 P.M. comes and just then up comes a black cat and sits right where mine sat on the couch outside my bedroom door.

I was listening to Rod’s latest music effort #16 of 42 Special Limited Edition on colored vinyl solo acoustic guitar by Rod!

I sat all day Thursday listening to Rod’s music with this stray cat. Could not come close but ate food with me from leftovers I had around.

I enjoyed the day in the sun with the cat listening to Rod’s music, eating, conversing and hearing the music from beginning to end.

Then the cat left when Rod normally would leave to return home as the sun went down.

No worries the cat came back last night, Friday and slept outside my door and we ate, listened to more music and looked at each other.

Each of us was enjoying the sounds of the music together. At the right moment, each of us would indicate our pleasure with such using a jester, a look or relaxed pose as Rod and I did.

I have made a new friend.

By the way Rod and I grieved the loss of my cats and his together last year, as we were “Cat People” as well.

G_D works in mysterious ways.

Rod will live on in his music!
Richard Grunauer

I was horrified when I heard the news. I have known Rod since the early 1980’s, and He was a big influence on my confidence as a musician, although he did ban me from using synthesisers in our trio, (he was probably right to do so) . A man with a direct line to musical taste. A lovely man my daughter had only spoken to him on the phone, yet she cried when I told her. A man who could transmit warmth down a phone line, or through your stereo.
Andrew Hodges

Very, very sad to hear of Rod’s passing. We only met once, in 2003, and I recall being struck by his personal warmth and humility. Tragic.
Chris Forsyth
Hi, just to make sure my caring heartfelt sympathy is given to all of you i am sending this though i did write it on myspace to the Oxford Improvisers and in their comments to give respect to Rod’s life.
God bless you each & Rod I am so sad.

Dear Oxford Improvisors,

How unbelievably horrible to have this happen, I am so sorry and sad for the loss of such a lovely person and soul. God bless Rod and the joy he gave so many and my deep sympathy for all of you, it is sickening such a waste can ever occur due to someone’s anger and idiocy that can take a life away, it breaks my heart. Thank God for Rod’s life.

with love,
GraceMelinda Serridge

I just found out.
Floods of memories, from ’77 till he left.

The first album he played me was Funkadelic, but soon moved on to Zappa. I played him Fripp and Eno.

Sharing a house and teaching him to shop for sensible food. The supermarket where he stuck his cheeky grin round the end of the aisle and asked “mooooooose?” ( I still say it at least once a week and it still makes me smile) (and always will).

The week he decided to start collecting Grateful Dead bootlegs and the 3 months of listening to nothing but.

Walking round Oxford in the winter in his huge greatcoat with his huge hair on top. Nights beyond number with Matt and Buzz and Kate and Alex, mesmerised by his music (which he called “intellectual wanking”).

There was a party at Kate and Alex’s 4 storey house, people everywhere. We were in a room on the top floor, escaping the early 80’s student music downstairs, listening to the rich gentle sounds Rod was playing (he was tuning up) when he asked me to get him a spoon. Down to the basement kitchen I went, but by the time I returned I had to fight my way back in, it was so crowded. Soon everyone was crowded round the door as, for over an hour, Rod enraptured the entire party by playing with a spoon.

I know little of his time in the States other than his early problems. We both kept moving and lost touch. I know even less about the technicalities of his music, I just know he was the best musician I could ever hope to meet.

A crap housemate, but a very special friend.
Andy Sloss

Immeasurably saddened to learn of Rod’s demise. Met him in 1989, when he and Hermann Buhler were sharing the afore-mentioned Emelita Street flat. Struck by his intensity and confidence in himself. Independent, wise, sparkling of humor, savvy…fierce.
An integral part of the new music community here in Los Angeles … part of the family.

Bonnie Barnett

I am absolutely stunned over Rod’s death. I have been trying to collect my thoughts about him but am frankly still quite shocked about it. I had just been listening to some recordings of a group that had included Rod that we had made back in 2004 – I had (re)gotten the sound files and finally had the chance to load and listen to the session the Thursday before he died.
I first met Rod at saxophonist / composer Lynn Johnston’s house – or shack as it may be. He was there with his DAT machine recording a small group Lynn had put together with Scot Ray, Adam Lane and Vijay Anderson. Rod was extremely courteous and quiet – but that wry sense of humor came out and it wasn’t until he had left after the session that I found out he was a musician. I think this kind of initial shyness seemed typical of Rod – a quietness and politeness that gave way to his intense opinions and high standard of personal morality.

Rod had not played in concert for quite a while (perhaps over 3 years) although he practiced intensely everyday. In the fall he showed me what he had been doing lately, playing me some Irish folk music he had been “working up”. Beautiful, exquisite, delicate, detailed and fast! – I felt honored that Rod felt comfortable to sit and play for me in such an intimate way. Seeing what he was working on, his technique, his focus on his work, his sense of musical vision and his dogged interest in pursuing his musical interest wherever it was leading him really inspired me. After I left his place I remember thinking that I better get myself together!

A trip to Rod’s was going to be a few hours – never a drive by. Always a conversation, and more:”Let me just play something for you…” would then turn into 4 hrs of conversation, digging through his immense record collection covering tons of recordings (tapes too!) with oodles of talk about Sun Ra, Derek Bailey, ICP records, Coltrane records, Dr. Who, an obscure (to me) folk guitar player like Sandy Bull or some other unknown treasure of music. Rod would recommend a record with such intensity – the Coltrane Olatunji Concert comes to mind – that you knew it held something very special for him.

Rod didn’t like that you could hear a car outside on that Dec 96 record or was at least seemed ambivalent about it, but for me it gave that record a sense of space and place – his apartment! – and an image of him there doing what he did almost everyday: playing solo. It was also that recording which made me see connections between Rod’s lovely music and other artists whose music I was interested in and helped plant the aesthetic seed for getting these musicians together to perform (Steve Roden, Tucker Dulin, Karen Stackpole, Rod and myself).

Talking to him this past fall, he seemed to be coming out of this zone of public performing silence and we had spoken about places to play and people for him to play / join forces with in Europe. I was really hoping that he would hit the streets and show more of the world his music.

The last time I saw Rod was in January. I was leaving LA for a few months and I had this Roscoe Mitchell tape that he had lent me (Noonah) and I wanted to get it back to him. Typical Rod, generosity combined with putting things off, he told me I could hold onto it, that I could return it later. But I wanted to say goodbye and it was also one of those hard-to-find treasures that I had to get it back to him so when he had another visitor’s ears to open about Roscoe Mitchell, he could say, “Do you have a minute? – can I play you something?”

I am sad that this won’t be happening and that such a unique man and great musician is gone. There are many more memories of Rod that keep bubbling up for me – he will be sorely missed.

Chris Heenan

Tribute to Rod Poole
by Brent Bloom

My fondest memories of Rod Poole were back in the music business days of Hollywood, California. I was living at 801 N Las Palmas in Waring Manor and eventually met Rod in the late 90s, who lived downstairs. We became friends that shared optimater, incense, and hours of very late night music in my apartment upstairs. We listened to “Jump on Top of Me, Baby” by the Stones many of times, and Rod would always say, “That is the real band!” The time spent listening was a great experience because Rod showed me so many new historical perspectives of Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, The Flying Burrito Brothers/Gram Parsons, Sun Ra, true old school Ska/Reggae (Lee Perry), Prince Buster, John Fahey, Leo Kothe—simply 6- and 12-string guitar!

I was always knocking on his door, seeing him in his plush blue robe with the kettle always going off, food being prepared or the empty can of baked beans, and talking and listening to “Live at Leeds” – vinyl versus new extensions on CD! The days of Rhino Records, Saturday vinyl sales, or conquering Aarons! Those days are memories that a monetary state will never understand, and we barely got by, but money could be found for music and fine German malt liquor beer. Seeing him perform at that old, tiny Hollywood theatre or in his apartment –we both had problems dealing with the outside noise of Las Palmas and Waring. Discussing Hendrix, Zeppelin, Zappa, the blues in general, was amazing. As a friend, Rob helped me survive in Hollywood when I was preparing to leave the music business back before MP3, downloading, early DVD. Rod was there for me, and all that was on our brains was vinyl, books, and historical perspectives of all avenues!

One of the last people I said goodbye to was Rod—we drank a few beers on top of Waring Manor and my road was back home. It has been nine years since the departure, but our friendship continued on a phone level that I will deeply miss. My regret is that the last time we talked was in September, when I returned from a Blues festival in Grafton, Wisconsin. Paramount recorded some historical 78rpm discs there. We conversed for awhile and, as friends, always shared stories together.

A week before Rod’s death, Les Paul was in his hometown of Waukesha, Wisconsin. Now I regret not sharing this experience with Rod. Rod, you will be greatly missed by the world because you were an original in a not-so-original place called Hollywood. To have shared so many conversations together on the lost land line phone concept of meaningful exchange of ideas, history, philosophy, and life in general will be a void for many worldwide!

And I can’t forget our vinyl outings of “Exile on Main Street” many a late night, and Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac historical film on VHS. Those guys are loaded – no real playing, no real vocals – Hollywood. Not to mention Rainbow Bridge and sharing my dad’s copy of “The Monterey Pops Festival Program”, and “Gimme Shelter” (they hit Marty).

Garcia responds, “Bummer, man!”

Your laugh,

I raise my wine glass to a true original that made so much happen. You will be missed by me.

Cheers, mate,

Your friend,

I just wish to express my sadness upon hearing of Rod’s senseless passing. My wife and I were just the other day talking about how the small group of people in the world who are devoted to pushing sound into truly new regions constitute a tribe of sorts. I didn’t know Rod, though I know his life brought great joy to many people in this tribe, and outside of it as well. All my love to his family and friends,

It was 1973 and nobody knew quite what to make of this kid newly arrived at Cumnor Primary school, with his distinctive shock of long blond curly hair. He could run fast and excelled at sport, routinely knocking cricket balls into the field beyond the school fence (much to the annoyance of the teachers). No one could get him out, and we all admired him. After a few weeks, he invited me to his house after school. We were both 11 years old. His parents owned the local grocer’s shop close to the school, and they lived in a flat above it. I’d never experienced a place like it. Like Charlie at the Chocolate factory, we could have pretty much anything we wanted from the shop, so long as we asked politely and it was just one item at a time. Rod was an only child and his dad indulged him in a kindly way. Upstairs, Rod had an electric guitar and practice amp in his bedroom. He didn’t play it, but it looked cool and I’d never seen one before. He also had a child’s drum kit – a toy, but it worked. This was the first of many visits: we’d roam the Cumnor fields with his dog Buster (who’d play brilliantly in goal for us at soccer till he punctured the ball); ruin his swing by playing on it relentlessly (I remember us laughing ourselves stupid as it collapsed); and discuss Superheroes from Marvel comics, and what we’d do with the X-Ray specs advertised in the classifieds at the back of them. Then one day, he picked up the guitar and I sat at the drums. We had no idea of tuning, or timing for that matter, but we imagined ourselves popstars. We did this so often that his dad one day took us to Snitterfield, near Stratford-on-Avon, as a birthday surprise, where there was a small recording studio in an ex-customs building. We recorded our only song. Suppressing tears of laughter, the engineer said, ‘What about a B-side?’ We’d never imagined having one – so Rod strummed something and sang too, making it up on the spot. A month or so later, an unmarked vinyl EP arrived through the post. It was Rod’s first recording. I’m pretty sure Rod has suppressed all knowledge of this item and I doubt it still survives. I last saw and heard it when I was 14, and even then Rod resisted me playing it. I think he’d laugh about it now.

Once we’d discovered tuning, things improved for us. We learned guitar and played together every day after school. We learned power chords, and would strum for hours: I’d keep rhythm on an old crudely miked-up Spanish guitar and Rod would play lead on his electric. I’d only known Rod for six months when he asked me if I’d heard of Jimi Hendrix. I hadn’t. So he played me a cassette recording he’d taken off the radio (from Alan Freeman’s Radio 1 show, his favourite). It sounded wild but astonishing. His parents happened to have an original 1966 single of ‘Hey Joe’, and we listened to it endlessly. For Rod, even at this early age, listening to music was a discipline as well as a pleasure, and we would discuss different aspects of what we heard. His favourite Hendrix moment occurred a little way into the live version of ‘Red House’ from ‘Hendrix in the West’, when Hendrix’s fingers seem to ice-skate effortlessly and with perfect precision on one string. We used to try to work out how it was done, and our admiration only grew when neither of us could emulate it. By 14, Rod had mastered chords and was beginning to solo. We discovered blues scales, and were soon inventing 30-minute wall-splashes of sound with an old WEM Copycat and a Wah-Wah, all in moderately-tuned form. But as Rod progressed, it became clear that his interest, and forte, lay in technical mastery of the guitar. His style became efficient, precise, stunningly quick, and quite unusual. We listened to a lot of blues guitarists, amazed by lesser known virtuoso players like Tony McPhee of The Groundhogs (Rod saw them live a few times) and Stan Webb of Chicken Shack. But Rod’s tastes were widening – to Love, Spirit (‘Tampa Jam’, as well as ‘Sardonicus’), Zappa (at the time, he thought the ‘Inca Roads’ solo equal to anything by Hendrix), Hot Tuna, the Beatles, Santana and then, decisively, to The Grateful Dead. I recall Rod coming back from Oxford with their double ‘Live’ LP, and playing ‘Dark Star’. What we heard was a new style – the bright, sharp, sparkling sound of Jerry Garcia – and we learned that the spaces, gaps and silences between the notes could be as important as the notes themselves. But, though he listened widely and intently, Rod’s own guitar playing never became imitative; when he played, he sounded like no one else. With the Dead, Rod looked to California. By now, he had a Cherry Red Les Paul (inspired by the Groundhogs’ track) but he switched his Marshall stack (courtesy of his dad) for a Mesa Boogie (again, thanks to his dad), and I suspect saw the West Coast beckoning.

At 15, my family moved away and our paths took different directions. We kept in touch, but with nothing like the intense musical friendship we’d had before. Rod got into jazz, especially John Coltrane, and joined an improvisation collective. He had developed a rare, extraordinary and demanding talent as a guitar player. I last saw him in the audience at a Steve Reich concert at the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford, before he left for the States. The move meant saying goodbye to his parents. I know that Rod had a lot of affection for his father. His relationship with his mother was more strained. But Rod valued people. Friendship meant a great deal to him.

I received news of Rod’s death a day or so ago. His loss, and manner of it, is a terrible shock and a tragedy. For those few years in which I knew him, I am greatly in his debt. He gave me a musical education at an early age, and showed me that music can be a serious and determining, as well as immensely enriching, part of one’s life. And he did this, just as he was discovering it for himself.

Duncan Salkeld

As cliche as this sounds, it’s difficult to find the words to adequately express my thoughts and feelings as I write. I met Rod about six years ago and had the pleasure and honor of being his friend and occasional musical partner since we met. When I first heard him play I was amazed by Rod’s ideas, fluidity of technique, and musical presence. As I was soon to find out, his passion in music was matched by his passion in life; his kindness and generosity as a person was mirrored in his playing.
Rod’s solo work was expressed through a vocabulary that was immediately identifiable and uniquely his. When playing with others, not unlike Derek Bailey though in a completely different manner, his vocabulary lent itself to a spontaneity that enabled him to communicate in the moment regardless of the number of players or the kind of project and his integrity ensured that Rod’s playing was distinctly Rod’s.

I had been anticipating a warm reunion with Rod in a couple weeks, picking up where we left off before I left for my first professor gig at Kent State: telling stories, listening to music, possibly having a bite or a pint before we sat down to do a bit more recording, in mono, because of the depth it gives Rod argued. I had been looking forward to struggling with Rod through another round of his interpretation of The Gold Ring (would we ever nail it the way we did the first time we played?) and other traditional/sounding Irish tunes, thinking about the state of affairs musical and political, and generally enjoying his presence.

It’s difficult to imagine that I won’t again have the pleasure of sharing a recording with Rod where he again says: “No, I like it, that sounds good. But I can’t help but think that all would sound better on soprano.”

Rod was one of those rare people who listened to what one had to say, was as comfortable in agreement as disagreement, and, while sure of his position, was open to thinking about other possibilities. Two conversational themes that we returned to over the years were questions about how to get more ears on Rod’s work and his place in musical communities (where did he fit?). On these counts, as the thoughtful and heartfelt comments in this space show, his untimely death is not only a tragedy but also an irony.

Rod, I miss you deeply my friend.

In Peace,
Walter Gershon

My brother Gary, was a very close friend of Rods, and over the year’s in California (especially Christmas holidays) he was a welcome guest over the years at family or friends homes … and so I got to hang out with him and his lovely wife Lisa.
I first met Rod back in the 1970s in Oxford England before I moved out here to sunny CA.

I was in the music business in those days (wasn’t everybody in England?) and a few years ago in LA …I had asked Rod as a favor …to clean up an old 45 record single that I made called “Taking England by Storm” (early punk sound recorded in 1978) …Rod called me ….a couple of years later …and said “when do you want to pick up your record” Rod did an amazing job and even made me sound like I have a great voice (very difficult to do).

Rod and I have always had a good laugh about our different taste in music …and I would kid him about his playing style … I would ask him when he would finish tuning his guitar (way to intelligent for me) but, I will always remember him as a quiet, intelligent, thoughtful gentleman, who will be missed by all that knew him..

All the best friend. rest easy.

Terry Lynch

I heard the news a while back in the UK I just haven’t been able to put into word how I felt about the senseless loss of Rods life.

Rod was a founder member of the Oxford Improvisers CO-OP (OIC) in England

I remember how his great shock of hair made him stand out, he was a sensitive soul and sometimes a man of few words.
Rod was one of the youngest improvisers at that time but had an amazing ability to play in a mature style.

I remember a situation when we thought he was missing for a while but we manage to get him to open his front door
and he said “cant play at the moment” I am looking after a few stray cats.

We played as a due for a couple of concerts and Michael Gerson who at that time made recordings of the OIC
and has since sadly died, I have found out recently that the British Sound Library are saving some of Mikes recordings in there archive.

I cannot conceive how his wife must feel.

I liked Rod he was a special spirit who knew what he had to do musically.

For some talent is an option, Rod was driven like most of us, he had no choice but to play his music.

The world is a colder place without Rod

Love and Light

Microtonal guitarist
by Todd S. Jenkins
Copyright © 2007 Todd S. Jenkins
Improvising guitarist Rod Poole, a fixture of Los Angeles’ small but vital free-music scene, was murdered in an altercation in Hollywood, California on May 13, 2007. He was 45 years old.
Born in the U.K., Roderick Poole began playing the guitar at the age of ten. In the early 1980s he became interested in free improvisation, and in 1983 he joined the Oxford Improvisors’ Cooperative. Poole was unusual in the genre for primarily focusing upon the acoustic guitar. He kept active in the organization until 1989, when he relocated to Los Angeles. Soon thereafter he began investigating just-intonation as espoused by Tony Conrad and LaMonte Young. He formally studied the concept with theorist Ervin Wilson, and had his Martin guitar modified with a just-intoned fretboard.

In the 1990s Poole recorded for the WIN label, including The Death Adder (1996, his tour-de-force of nearly an hour‘s length) and December ‘96 (1998). Other sessions were released on Transparency (Iasis, a 1999 trio date with guitarists Douglas Williford and Joseph Hammer), Justguitar (Mind’s Island, 2006, with wordless vocalist Sasha Bodganowitsch) and Incus (Acoustic Guitar Trio, 2000, with Nels Cline and Jim McAuley). Poole participated in a number of events sponsored by The Society for the Activation of Social Space through Art and Sound (SASSAS), a Los Angeles non-profit arts organization, and appeared at the 2005 improvisation festival at University of California, Riverside, alongside Karl Berger and Philip Gelb. He also performed with Derek Bailey, Miya Masaoka, Donald Miller, Pat Thomas, Tony Bevan, Eugene Chadbourne and other improvisers during his career.

On May 13, 2007, Poole and his wife, Lisa, were walking through the parking lot of Mel’s Drive-In in Hollywood when a car driven by Angela Sheridan, 24, of Los Angeles, nearly backed into them. Poole exchanged words with the driver, who got out of the car along with her husband, Michael Sheridan, 25. The husband allegedly pulled a knife and stabbed Poole multiple times before the Sheridans got in the car and fled. Poole died less than an hour later at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Michael and Angela Sheridan were arrested and are being held for murder on one million dollars’ bail.

Todd S. Jenkins


Rod Poole index

Rod Poole index

excerpt from the LA Times:

April 29, 2003
Microtonal guitarists open ears

By Josef Woodard, Special to The Times

The normally underground world of microtonal music goes public for the next month courtesy of the annual MicroFest, launched Sunday at Venice’s Electric Lodge with a program called “MicroGuitars.”

Microtonality is all about the pursuit of music created by deviating from the prevailing Western tuning of 12 notes to the octave. Guitar is particularly malleable, given the flexible tuning keys and possibilities of customizing the fretboard.

Rod Poole, a British avant-folk-jazzer, played a steel-string acoustic guitar with a super-sized order of tightly spaced frets. Mixing traditional pure roots and fifths with stowaway microtones, Poole played an improvised suite in a hypnotically precise finger-picking style reminiscent of John Fahey, but further out.

The Death Adder
Rod Poole doesn’t just play guitar, he plays a 49 minute improvisation on a guitar tuned in just intonation. This isn’t mentioned in the liner notes, but on the WIN Records’ Rod Poole page he states:

“THE DEATH ADDER” is constructed with considerably more complex ratios involving the prime numbers eleven & seven. When you utilize fractions based on these primes you find yourself playing pitches which are virtually as far removed from the twelve tones of equal division as you can get.

Although the rippling and shimmering arpeggios remind one of the Well Tuned Piano, Poole also incorporates percussive tapping on the body of the guitar and apparently intentional occasional sitar-like buzzing strings. At one particularly intense moment, we can hear him doing what sound like deep breathing exercises. At least he isn’t grunting and groaning in an orgasmic Keith Jarrett frenzy!

Another welcome addition to the ever expanding library of interesting just intonation recordings. Where’s the next one Rod? How about a seven hour Well Tuned Guitar?

David Beardsley
Juxtaposition Ezine

December 1996
Rod Poole
WIN Records

Rod Poole is back with his second CD on WIN Records. Based on the same tuning as his last CD The Death Adder, in the liner notes, the composer writes about his improvisations “all have the capacity to be different from each other”. This edition has a bit less of the twirling arpeggios, but more introspective single lines and space. If you’ve heard the 1st CD, you’ll recognize Poole. If you get December 1996, you’ll also want to check out his previous work. Liner notes include a specific breakdown of the 11 limit just intonation tuning that Poole uses on his specially modified guitar. Ratios are named!!!

David Beardsley
Juxtaposition Ezine

Mind’s Island
Rod Poole/Sasha Bogdanwitsch
(Just Guitar 01; USA)
Microtonal Just Intonation guitarist Rod Poole has released some amazing recordings, but they have been out of print for a while. By starting his Justguitar label the situation has now changed for the better.

For this first release on his new label, Rod plays his refretted Martin acoustic guitar and is joined by the singing of Sasha Bogdanowitsch. Nine improvisations become instant compositions – fleet finger picked arpeggios juxtaposed with contemplative droning sections and wordless syllables – some tracks have bowed or prepared guitar. This one blows me away – I’m looking forward to the archives and previous releases getting released on this label. I’ll never forget the times I’ve heard these guys perform including Rod’s performance at the old location of DMG on East 5th Street in June 2001 or his improvisations with Derek Bailey at Tonic that December and Sasha’s appearance at the American Festival of Microtonal Music here in NYC in 1998.
– guest review by Art Gumm.

David Beardsley aka Art Gumm
Downtown Music Gallery

Rod Poole index

Mel’s Slay Suspects Sentenced

October 7, 2008
by Steven Mikulan

original article here:

Capping a morning of impassioned defense pleas and emotional victim-impact statements, Judge Michael E. Pastor passed down sentences for second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter, respectively, on Michael Sheridan and his wife, Angela, for the 2007 Mother’s Day slaying of musician Rod Poole. Pool, 45, had confronted the pair after Angela Sheridan, then 24, bumped a busboy as she maneuvered her car in the Hollywood parking lot of Mel’s Diner. Within moments of exchanging words with Ms. Sheridan, Poole was on the ground while she kicked his head and her husband, then 25, stabbed him half a dozen times. (See June 14, 2007 L.A. Weekly feature.) Michael’s mother and his two-year-old son remained in the car.

Pastor threw the proverbial book at Michael Sheridan, giving him an indeterminate sentence of 15 years to life in state prison, and for good measure tossed on three years for a probation violation; the sentences will run consecutively but will, said his attorney, Alba Marrero, be appealed. Angela received a “mid-base term” of three years; however, with 771 days of custody credits, she will be free in less than a year. She and her attorney, Jana Seng, seemed satisfied, although the prevailing mood in a courtroom filled with supporters of victims and perpetrators alike was gloom.

“What sane person,” Poole’s widow, Lisa, asked the court, “carries a knife in their car on Mother’s Day, with their child and their mother in the car?”

Judge Proctor had no answer, other than to say that Mr. Sheridan’s “conduct is egregious beyond words. It’s cowardly and presents a danger to society.”

Rod Poole index

Daddy From Hell
by Matthew Fleischer

original article here:

For Gabriel Goillen, night manager of Mel’s Drive-in on Highland Avenue in Hollywood, the events of May 13 still don’t register. Goillen was working the night that police say Angela and Michael Sheridan, a young couple, murdered guitarist Rod Poole in the parking lot of Mel’s.

Despite the viciousness of the knifing attack, Goillen says that earlier in the evening the Sheridans and other family members sat in a booth near the front entrance and appeared to be calm, posing “no problems,” to their server. They were regulars at Mel’s and were friendly with several members of the staff. The couple had never caused trouble before. That night, Goillen says only that the Sheridans were “maybe a little drunk, but nothing more — and certainly not violent.”

But sure enough, there it was on the video.

“It was 9:20 exactly,” says Goillen, describing what he later witnessed on Mel’s security video, now in the hands of police. “[Angela Sheridan] was driving — a white Honda Civic. She backed up and almost ran over one of our employees and [Rod Poole]. I guess [Poole] had some words for them, and that’s when they got out of their car.”

Moments later, according to Goillen, the video shows Poole crumpled on the pavement of the popular hamburger joint’s parking lot, suffering multiple knife wounds — allegedly at the hands of Michael Sheridan. He later died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

“It was absolutely senseless,” says Goillen.

On the surface, there are few words more appropriate to describe the murder of Poole, a popular microtonal guitarist featured in a 2001 L.A. Weekly profile. After the initial investigation into the murder, LAPD detectives seemed to agree.

Vickie Bynum, the LAPD Hollywood Division detective investigating the case, downplayed the initial confrontation, calling it “a minor incident that simply escalated out of control.” Detective Larry Cameron, also working on the case, described the incident, with a cop’s understatement, as “incredibly dumb.”

While it would be impossible to disagree with those characterizations of the assault, what has been portrayed thus far as a tragic but freak occurrence of road rage may not have been so incidental after all.

As it turns out, the murder of Rod Poole was merely the most recent in a series of violent acts allegedly perpetrated by Michael Sheridan that went unchecked, year after year.

May 13th was Mother’s Day, so on the night of the murder the Sheridans, Angela, 24, and Michael, 25, weren’t dining at Mel’s alone. Michael’s mother, Sandra, was with them, as was the couple’s 4-year-old son. Angela paid for the Mother’s Day meal, and all four Sheridans exited the restaurant and got in the white Honda together.

Meanwhile, Rod Poole and his wife, Lisa, were just arriving at Mel’s after attending a Laura Martin concert at the Dangerous Curve art gallery downtown. Like the Sheridans, the Pooles were regulars at Mel’s, although police say the two couples had never met.

Walking alongside the Pooles was an off-duty Mel’s employee, German Garcia. As Angela Sheridan backed up the Honda, court documents state, she struck Garcia in the leg — narrowly missing the Pooles as well. According to witness testimony from the Los Angeles County Superior Court file, Poole allegedly responded by telling Sheridan to “learn how to drive, bitch.”

Hearing this, the documents state, Angela Sheridan stopped the car, jumped out and confronted Poole. “What did you call me?” she demanded, getting into Poole’s face as her preschooler and mother-in-law waited inside the car.

“What does it matter?” Poole replied.

But meanwhile, according to police accounts, Michael Sheridan snuck up behind Poole. “You don’t know who you’re dealing with! I’ll kill you, motherfucker!” he reportedly yelled before pulling out an eight-inch kitchen knife and repeatedly stabbing Poole in the upper torso, stomach and chest.

As Poole fell to the ground, witness interviews from the court file say, Angela Sheridan kicked the mortally wounded Poole in the chest, and possibly in the head.

The timing of the Mother’s Day murder was tragic all around. Though Mel’s once had on-site security every night, the restaurant recently scaled back to Friday and Saturday nights only. On this particular Sunday, no one was around to intervene. Before any of the employees or diners inside Mel’s could stop them, the Sheridans jumped back into their Honda and drove off.

The entire incident lasted only 30 seconds. And Michael Sheridan’s mother and tiny son witnessed the whole thing.

Less than two hours later, Angela Sheridan was in police custody — traced by Hollywood cops using a license plate number culled from Mel’s security video as well as information obtained from the credit card she used to pay for her own Mother’s Day meal.

Quickly fanning out to catch Michael Sheridan, police arrested him several hours later, apparently hiding at the home of an aunt. Police also later recovered the bloody knife — in the couple’s South Los Angeles apartment. Crime-scene photos reviewed by the L.A. Weekly show that Michael Sheridan’s blood-stained clothes were discovered by police draped over the side of his son’s firetruck-shaped bed.

When Michael Sheridan Warned Poole, “You don’t know who you’re dealing with,” he wasn’t boasting. As one might expect from a man who carries a large kitchen knife out for a Mother’s Day dinner with his family, Poole’s murder was far from an isolated incident in the troubled life of Michael Sheridan.

According to court records, police reports and the testimony of former neighbors, Michael and Angela Sheridan have criminal pasts.

Angela, a law clerk at Munger, Tolles & Olson — one of L.A.’s most politically connected, powerhouse law firms — was previously arrested for theft and burglary, and eventually pleaded to and was convicted of petty theft. But despite occasional troubles, her indiscretions paled compared to her husband’s, whom neighbors describe as a house-bound, chronically unemployed recluse prone to alcohol abuse.

An Army veteran who served from 2000 to 2003, part of that time at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia, Sheridan amassed quite a criminal record in his 25 years. In 2002, he was arrested in Culver City and charged with assault with a deadly weapon. Several months later Sheridan was arrested again — this time for drunken driving. At the time of his arrest, charged with Poole’s murder, Sheridan had an outstanding warrant in Culver City on domestic-battery of his wife, Angela.

But perhaps his most serious alleged offense is the one for which he never got caught.

On the night of August 6, 2005, police and emergency medical teams in Highland Park responded to a 911 call at the Sheridans’ apartment at the time. According to Northeast Division police, they arrived to find a man with multiple stab wounds lying in the street outside the Sheridans’ apartment — with a trail of blood leading inside the Sheridan home.

Rodolfo Zepeda, who lived in a bungalow next to the Sheridans’ place on the same lot, remembers the night well.

“They [Angela and Michael] had a huge fight,” he told the Weekly. “All kinds of screaming.” For Zepeda, this behavior wasn’t at all unexpected from his rowdy neighbors, so at first he paid it no mind. “Every Friday night they’d start drinking and wouldn’t stop fighting until Sunday afternoon,” he says.

But soon, he realized the intensity of this fight was something different — culminating in someone screaming, “Help me! I’m dying!”
Zepeda says he ran outside to see a young, black man lying in the street, bleeding severely from a knife wound in his side and a slash across his neck. As he got closer, Zepeda saw Angela Sheridan in the street, attempting to pull the man into her car. He recalls that he demanded she stop. “I said, ‘What are you doing? This man is going to die — we need to call an ambulance.’?”

Angela Sheridan eventually relented and left to call 911 while Zepeda applied pressure to the man’s wounds in an effort to stem the bleeding. “There was blood everywhere,” recalls another neighbor who came outside to investigate the noise, “up the driveway, on the curb, in the street.”

An ambulance arrived soon after and rushed the victim to the hospital — where doctors were able to save his life. Neighbors say Los Angeles police roped off the entire block and questioned Angela Sheridan for the next several hours. Police asked Zepeda’s wife, Maria, to watch the Sheridans’ toddler, just 2 years old at the time. With Maria’s own house roped off as part of the police investigation, she watched their small son for the next several hours in another neighbor’s yard.

Like the Hollywood stabbing, the neighbors believe that the child was present during the entire knifing.

After the knifing, Michael Sheridan was nowhere to be found. Months passed before any neighbors saw him again. Most assumed he was sent to jail for the stabbing. In actuality, he was never charged. According to Detective Rick Ortiz of the Northeast Division’s Gang Unit, Michael Sheridan, who was separated from Angela at the time, made a surprise visit home to find her with another man. A violent conflict ensued, leading to the stabbing of Angela’s lover.

“The victim was a known gang member with long-standing ties,” explains Detective Ortiz. “What often happens is that these gang members won’t talk to the police on principle. It looks like Michael Sheridan was the only suspect, but since neither his wife nor the victim would identify him as the attacker, and because there were no other witnesses to the actual stabbing, they couldn’t charge Sheridan with anything.”

But while no one was charged with the stabbing, the repercussions of the incident didn’t end that night.

According to Zepeda and other neighbors, several days after the attack, a car showed up outside the Sheridans’ door packed with several women who initiated a shouting match with Angela Sheridan. As she went out to confront them, the women emerged from their car and proceeded to jump her — with one of the women wielding a monkey wrench.

“They beat her pretty bad with it,” says Zepeda, “really messed her face up.”
Despite being outnumbered and facing armed opponents, Angela managed to hold her own. “She took a beating, but she gave it out just as good,” says another neighbor of the incident. “She took on all of them.”

Not wanting to deal with the authorities, and possibly fearing the intervention of social services — who might have removed the toddler from the violent home — neighbors say Angela never called the police. The harassment continued, and Zepeda remembers the angry women returned more than once.

Shouting matches between Angela Sheridan and the group of women became frequent — and they weren’t always face to face. “The phone would ring all the time and you could hear Angela scream, ‘Stop calling here, bitch!’?” according to Zepeda. He suspects the calls and the visits were from relatives and friends of the stabbing victim.

While Angela tried to steer clear of police involvement, the stabbing wouldn’t be the last time officers were called to the couple’s Highland Park apartment.

According to a temporary restraining order filed in court on December 1, 2005, stemming from a Thanksgiving Day incident, Michael Sheridan returned to live with his wife — and beat her severely when he did.

In the complaint, Angela accused her husband of tackling her, dislocating her shoulder, and pinning her to the ground while he “socked me in my head repeatedly.” Again, the couples’ son was in the house throughout the Thanksgiving attack.

Michael Sheridan was arrested on domestic-abuse charges, but the temporary restraining order was lifted when Angela, who would not testify in the earlier knifing, again enabled her husband’s violence — by failing to show up for the domestic-abuse court hearing.

When Michael was eventually released from jail, the couple reunited. But all indications are that the abuse Angela suffered that night didn’t stop. “Her husband beat the hell out of her,” said a neighbor at the couple’s most recent South Los Angeles apartment complex. “She’s a fair-skinned woman — all the signs of abuse were visible to everyone: bruises, marks, all that.”

The man, who wouldn’t give his name, saying, “It’s not my business,” had known Angela Sheridan for two months before the Poole murder, and was friendly with her. “She brought her son to my child’s birthday party. She was a sweet lady.” He claims, “It was her husband that was no good, but she couldn’t get out. She just couldn’t bring herself to leave him. And now look where it got her.”

Perhaps that realization finally occurred to her as she entered the courtroom in late May for a preliminary hearing in the murder case against her and her husband. She silently cried as tears fell down her cheeks. Her husband casually stood next to her.

As the day’s proceedings ended, I asked Michael Sheridan’s public defender whether the Sheridans, now incarcerated in separate jails, are nevertheless still together.

“They’re husband and wife, aren’t they?” she replied.


Rod Poole index

Rod Poole
Stuart Riddle
Sunday 1 July 2007 19.04 EDT

original here:

Rod Poole, who has died aged 45 after being stabbed in the car park of a Hollywood diner, was an experimental guitarist committed to just intonation – a tuning system that traced its lineage back to Pythagoras. His own guitar, a 1972 Martin Acoustic, had been rebuilt with a new fretboard to accommodate a 23-note octave of his own design.
Rod was born in Taplow, Shropshire, and his teenage years were spent hitchhiking around the festival scene. He took a series of jobs, but one of the longest was behind the counter of Garon Records, in Oxford’s covered market, where he was a knowledgeable and erudite guide to customers.

He was an early mainstay of the improvised music business in Oxford, but became disillusioned with many aspects of the British scene, particularly its factional politics, and what he perceived as a tendency to elevate novelty over quality. He moved to the US in 1989 with little more than the clothes on his back. He began studying tuning systems with Ervin Wilson in Los Angeles, and rapidly established himself as a respected figure in the city’s experimental music scene. Later, he played concerts on both coasts. His musical heroes included John Coltrane and Sun Ra, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin, Davy Graham and Iranian classical musicians. Ambivalent about his new home – he loathed mainstream US politics – he had a nostalgia for wet weather, Dr Who and sitcoms. He was, however, passionate about the cultural legacy of Los Angeles in literature, film and music.

Self-taught in most subjects, Rod pursued these interests with a thoroughness that could leave someone bruised if they chose to argue with him about them. He had hobby horses about the superiority of vinyl over digital recordings, and latterly developed a commitment to mono recording. He had learned much from the recording engineer Michael Gerzon, and his CDs would come complete with details of the equipment used in their production. His fine ear could distinguish a minute discrepancy in tuning or a mis- identified sideman on an obscure jazz record.

At the time of his death, Rod was making plans to relaunch his music. He had circulated review copies of an LP, For Derek/For Bag, which contained tributes to his friend and mentor Derek Bailey, and his cat, Bag, and was planning a series of concerts on the east coast later this year. He is survived by his beloved wife Lisa.

Rod Poole index

Rod Poole began playing the guitar in 1972. He experimented with various musical idioms and by the mid-80s, his primary interests were acoustic-based free improvisation and finger-picked solo acoustic guitar. A founding member of the Oxford Improvisors’ Cooperative, Poole’s association was between the years 1983-1986. After moving to the United States in 1989, his studies in just intonation began with the world’s foremost theorist on the subject, Ervin Wilson. Poole spent the next several years developing his approach to playing the guitar using just intonation theory. Poole has released a handful of unique and highly praised CDs on the W.I.N., Transparency, and Incus labels – The Dead Adder, December 96, Iasis,and The Acoustic Guitar Trio. He contributed “Kalaidoscopic Sunday” to the Henry Kaiser-curated guitar compilation, 156 Strings, and “The Fire Left to Come” to the SASSAS two-CD set, Sound, a compilation of Los Angeles-based performances curated by Cindy Bernard. Poole was also responsible for engineering the recording of all but three of the performances on Sound. He has performed with Derek Bailey, Mia Masaoka, Joseph Hammer, Kraig Grady, Nels Cline, Donald Miller, Pat Thomas, Tony Bevan, Eugene Chadbourne, and others.


Rod Poole index

In 1992, as Rod sat across from me in a restaurant somewhere in westside Los Angeles, I asked him to recommend a list of albums. During the years of classic rock ‘n’ rock, I was busy collecting and reading comic books, rather than paying much attention to music. He provided the following recommendations off the top of his head, including the dates.


Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus
Epic (CBS) 1970
(Rod gave this one a star)

Forever Changes
(“LA band”) Love
Electra 1968

Electric Music for the Mind and Body
Country Joe & the Fish
“from Berkeley”

White Album
The Beatles

The Beatles

Uncle Meat
The Mothers of Invention
(Rod gave this one a star)

Electric Lady Land
Jimi Hendrix Experience

Younger Than Yesterday
The Byrds

Beggar’s Banquet
The Rolling Stones
(Rod gave this one a star)

Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy compilation
The Who

The Who Sell Out
The Who
(Rod gave this one a star)

Pet Sounds
The Beach Boys
“includes ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’ and ‘God Only Knows’ . . . more developed than Endless Summer”


Side Trips (1966); Beacon From Mars (1967); Incredible (1968)

The Moray Eels Devour The Holy Modal Rounders
The Holy Modal Rounders

The Piper at Gates of Dawn
Pink Floyd
(Rod gave this one a star)

Trout Mask Replica; Lick My Decals Off, Baby; Clear Spot
Captain Beefheart

Something Else
The Kinks

The Last Sweet Days of Joseph
“musical play . . . guy in elevator gets stuck with a woman”

Hums (“Summer in the City”, “Coconut Grove”); Daydream (“Daydream”)
the Lovin’ Spoonful
(Rod gave Hums a star)

Benefit (1970); Aqualung (1971)
Jethro Tull

Quicksilver Messenger Service (1968); Happy Trails (1969)
Quicksilver Messenger Service

The Preservation Green Society (“You Really Got Me”)
The Kinks
“Too English? . . . regarded as first hard rock”
(Rod gave this one a star)

Kind of Blue (1959, instrumental); In A Silent Way (1969)
Miles Davis

Love; De Capo
1966, 1967

The Notorious Byrd Brothers
The Byrds

Spirit (1968); The Family That Plays Together (1969); Clear (1969)
(Rod gave Spirit a star)

Live/Dead Volume One
Grateful Dead
Warners (1970)
(Rod gave this one a star)

Wheels of Fire

The United States of America
“band has the same name”

The Cry of Love
Jimi Hendrix

There’s a Riot Goin’ On

John A. Mozzer

Rod Poole index

Photos by Stuart Riddle, Autumn 2005


The first is Rod, Lisa, and Mary, my partner in a restaurant in LA that they used to have Sunday brunch in.


The second is Rod and I by our hire car on the way to SF – the name of the restaurant escapes me – something to do with somebody’s ranch and a steakhouse, but again it was Rod’s favourite stop on the route.


Rod and I at Golden Gate.


Rod on the beach at Zuma.



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