Guitarist Bob Brozman Dies Age 59

Reports say Brozman took his own life because injuries made it hard to keep playing guitar. Here, we look at the life of this remarkable world musician.

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Legendary guitarist Bob Brozman, famous for being one of the most versatile and talented guitarists in the world, has died at the age of 59.

The cause of Bob's death has not been formerly confirmed, but his long-time collaborator and producer Daniel Thomas says he took his own life after long-term injuries from a 1980 car crash made it increasingly hard to continue playing guitar.

Bob's history as a musician, ethnomusicologist and teacher who was versatile in dozens of genres of world music placed him as one of the most respected alternative guitarists in the world. But he was never known to mainstream audiences, and as Bob recalled in one anecdote, "I made it into this book called '1000 Great Guitarists,' and in my little paragraph it said, 'Brozman will never be very well-known because he plays too many kinds of music.'"

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He started out as a blues guitarist in New York, and by the late 70s had moved to Missouri where he was known in clubs as an impressive performer with a good sense of humor. Later he settled into Santa Cruz, California, where police banned him from performing on the street because the crowds he drew would cause traffic problems.

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Since recording his first album 1981, Bob travelled the world to learn more about the guitar and became a master of many styles, particularly Hawaiian and Carribean styles. According to producer Daniel Thomas, Bob's purpose in like was "was to follow the guitar to all the places that it got left behind, and see what it did in those cultures." The result was over 30 albums of music, both solo projects and collaborations with other highly-regarded world musicians.

Bob was fascinated by National resonator guitars, which he called "the most uniquely American guitars ever made." He studied them so much that he literally published a book on them in 1993.

His sudden death at a relatively young age has shocked many in the guitar community. As one example, British guitarist Jon Gomm writes in a Facebook post about his old hero:

"Bob was a huge influence on my guitar playing style, from when I first saw him play when I was 10 years old," said Gomm. "He demonstrated to me that making a life as a successful musician didn't have to be about being on TV or in magazine covers. It could just be about doing what you believed in, irrespective of image or sales figures."

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A year and a half ago, producer Daniel Thomas discovered Brozman was unable to play his Hawaiian guitar, according to the Guardian. "He said 'My hand won't do it' ... and he was the greatest Hawaiian player since Tau Moe." While recording his final album "Fire in the Mind," Thomas says "there were times when he just had to stop, and it was incredibly painful for him."

In the end, Thomas says Bob "took his own life" because of the increasing effect that his old injuries were having on his playing. "He said he was dissolving before his own eyes, and he was devastated by the loss. He struggled to imagine his life without an instrument in his hands."

Bob is survived by his wife Haley, with whom Bob said "our life together is one long and inspiring brainstorming session," and his daughter Zoe from a previous marriage.

If you haven't had a chance to see Bob Brozman's remarkable performance style, pay tribute with us today and explore some of his videos, and see how his death is a tragic loss to world music. Fans of Bob are invited to share their favorite memories and videos in the comments.

57 comments sorted by best / new / date

    This is the most ****ed-up thing in this world, to learn about a great person after this person dies. I'm sure I'm not the only one...
    Where were all the articles about him when he was alive!? It sucks I'm only hearing of this guy now... R.I.P Bob
    link no1
    It would get in the way of all the Dave Mustaine rants, whatever Metallica are doing this week and a piece of useless news about Slipknot, Disturbed or Machine Head. Sometimes I think the only reason UG posts news on musicians that die is so nobody mentions says didn't.
    Some musicians are better at playing music that pushing stories out every day through a PR person. It's a shame.
    Feel bad I've never heard of him but he sounds like both an excellent guitarist and a very nice person. It must've been hard for him after the accident to watch his guitar skills slowly wane. I could understand being that depressed. Rest in peace.
    What's incredible is he had his accident in 1980, yet according to this he didn't release an album til '81 and THEN he travelled the world learning all he could. Even in spite of his injuries he obviously pushed and pushed to make himself a better player. What an absolute inspiration! RIP
    Bob was my good friend through high school and I remember his very first National Guitar,a single cone with palm trees engraved on it. Johnny Winter and the progressive blues experiment was always on his record player. I can still remember that amazing resonating blues...
    This idiot is on other articles trolling today too. Obviously he hasn't got much to do today - life must get kinda boring lying in your mums basement eating week old fluff-encrusted doritos out of your fat belly button.
    and still no article on the death of George jones
    Who truly was a talented musician, with a voice that's rare these days. "Who's gonna' fill 'his' shoes?"
    Second article I've seen today with you and your idiotic comments. Do you need a CAT scan?
    Wow, I've never heard of him but his music is absolutely incredible. His music lives on to new generations, RIP.
    I had the great pleasure to see Bob twice in Newcastle UK - what a talent, Had to be one of the most talented guitarist/musician in the world EVER, if you had ever seen the passion he played with you could understand his decision. Listen to "A truckload of blues" if you ever get the chance - Just brilliant - A LEGEND
    I just watched those videos and was blown away. I wasn't familiar with him or his work but after seeing that it seems like such a profound loss of life.
    Never heard of him until today, just like the article said. I watched all the videos posted here and I'm really saddened by his death. A true musician.
    A sad day for music. And as many here, never heard of him and after seeing his videos i feel i missed out on a great guy and a super musician. Rock in peace my friend!
    R.I.P. Bob Brozman, I feel really bad that he took his own life because he couldn't play his instruments anymore, but man, I honestly cannot respect him enough for being that extremely dedicated to music and cherishing the ability to play it. I'm sure now he's in all his glory, being able to play again up in heaven with other deceased legends, God bless ya Bob!
    I kind of doubt they let child molesters in heaven, but hey... maybe so. Guess it all depends on how he was brought up as a child??
    I can't believe people are starting to "like" him on this page. This guy killed himself and left his wife and children behind with nothing.
    I hope his family aren't seeing it as selfishly as you are, in fact, they're probably happy for his sake. What's the point in living if you don't enjoy life anymore? Surely all you do is bring everyone around yourself down.
    What a selfish prick! I can't play my guitar any more so I'm going to off my self, **** my kids, my wife, my friends and family, because I can't play guitar anymore.
    Probably one of the worst reasons ever to kill yourself.
    He's losing the ability to do the thing that makes him happiest in the world. I'd rather die young having lived a full life than keep living in a miserable state just to die when it's "my time".
    I would rather find something new that makes me happy than kill myself and send everyone I know into a state of mourning.
    Man, guitar was his life, his must loved thing to do was playing it, think about something that you would really DIE for, that is how he feels, no one can explain this felling except for him. And if you don't have anything to die for, i think you should live more, find beauty in places and good in people, and i don't some blues.
    Everyone grieves differently, who are you to judge what he chose to do with his own life?
    He played guitar his entire life, to suddenly have that taken away from you isn't something you can shrug off. You have put yourself in his shoes.
    That's now what he chose to do though so maybe you should just shut your judgmental mouth and deal with it. You're not impressing anybody
    He killed himself because his ex-step-daughter was bringing molestation charges against him. It had nothing to do with his love of guitar. Articles like this just piss me off.
    depression is insidious. He was always full of of the most talented guitarists ever
    @Azrael Then guitar doesn't mean much to you, does it? The tool he used to paint his world, gave it meaning, substance and clarity. Guitar was an extension of not only who he was, but what made him, him. To have that leave you..well he lost who he was. Suicide is never an ideal option, but he would live out his life in depression. You'll never make it through life without hurting someone but even though his family mourns, I think inside they see it his way. I've felt like this myself. I told myself if I ever lost the ability to play, I'd probably kill myself and I'm a pretty damn stable person, but after playing for 10 years now, and never going a day without music..Music is the only way I know how to express myself, and if that were to leave me, then I'd simply feel hollow.
    Well, your point would be wonderful if this was truly why he committed suicide...
    I am shocked by reading this news in a internet site. What a wonderful musician he is. I got a chance to see his life performance in Kolkata, India along with guru Debasis Bhatacharya and since then he is my inspiration for music. I listen to his music very often and try to learn and apply his pattern in my music. He plays many variations many instruments and many style. His application to the variation/fraction in rhythm is of highest quality. He is a true musician who use to connect with audience in his every performance. His music is natural and with lots of fun. All time great guitarist and musician of a different kind. Thanks for your music. I miss him so much
    shadwell smith
    I'm shocked by the news. I saw Bob play a couple of times in Luton. It was an honour to hear him play. Great man. Great musician. I will miss him.
    I mourn the loss of Bob Brozman from this world. At a guitar recital that I performed in today, I dedicated my playing to him and talked him up with the audience of guitar lovers. I stated that perhaps, with the unfortunate recent loss of this great musician, there will be a resurgence of awareness of this artist, post-humously. I originally dicovered Bob Brozman, and was floored by what I saw and heard, on a video (Netflix rental) of finger-style guitarists. Bob Brozman - AWESOME! I will be purchasing recordings and videos asap.
    I have often said, although maybe in jest that if I could no longer do the things I love, then I may as well end my life. I'm hopeful that by the time I am unable to do what I love right now, that I find something I can to keep life interesting. My condolescences to his family, friends and fans, but I kinda get why he did what he felt he had to do.
    Ben Sinclair
    The Finest Guitarist I have seen. I was lucky to discover him in the early 1990's and have had the great fortune to see him several times in small intimate venues..the Marrs Bar a couple of times, The Artrix and elsewhere. It is a real shame to hear of his death and I hope his family have the support they need. I think he will be remembered as an influential musician and a man of considerable integrity and honesty, both in his music and in his devotion to spreading his musical knowledge. He was generous of spirit, always supporting younger musicians and happy to share his stage with others. Certainly no prima donna, he was a pleasure to watch, listen to and enjoy. As he toured almost incessantly, so many were able to hear him play in the flesh. He will remain a vivid and dynamic musician in my mind for the rest of my life, and I consider myself so fortunate to have heard him play and speak a few words to him. Certainly one of the great Blues Musicians, and much more as well. I hope he is at peace.... We will miss him & his music. Ben Sinclair
    I went to see this guy play in a pub in Leeds about eight years ago, on recommendation from my Dad. Still one of the best recommendations I've received from anybody.
    A regular visitor to Australia / Adelaide, he from all reports was an affable and decent man with boundless talent. Noticing so many taking the time to write here but not knowing of him prior to his death happens all too often in the music industry. I was fortunate to know and understand his drive in many genres and he, like so many, will party together as one massive band.
    Damn, I wish i had heard of this guy before. He sounds amazing and his technique looks awesome.
    Sad. Fabulous playing and wit. In his absence hopefully the prediction about his obscurity -- from the book '1,000 Great Guitarists' -- will be dispelled as more people surely become connected to his music. It's a shame that more didn't hear it while he was among us: I don't recall his name, I'm not entirely unaware of quality musicians and their art, and I'm a musician myself. I will certainly be investing time in discovering more of Bob Brozman's magic. I'll leave you with two of my favorite quotes, as I think they're perfectly fitting: "True genius is rarely appreciated in its own time ", and "Fit audience find, though few ."
    holy crap.. I feel ashamed to say I only found out about this guy from this article. He is the best guitarist I have seen in my life. It would be more than mission impossible to write out his tab book, how does he keep it all in his head?
    This breaks my heart. I am so fortunate to have been able to dance to his wonderful music in a community hall in Victoria B.C. in the early nineties. He was accompanied by the most fabulous collection of eclectic musical artists I have ever seen or will see again. I will carry this memory in my heart until the day I die...and even beyond I think. Rest in peace Mr. Brozman and play on.