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Hiram Bullock NY Times Obituary

SOURCE: Published: 2008-08-02
Hiram Bullock Hiram Bullock, 52, Soulful Guitarist, Dies

Hiram Bullock, a soulful and adaptable jazz and rock guitarist who was a member of the original band for Late Night with David Letterman, died last Friday in Manhattan. He was 52. The cause is pending, said Jennifer Armstrong, his partner of 16 years. Mr. Bullock was found to have cancer of the tongue last fall, she said.

Mr. Bullock played on some blockbuster pop albums, including “The Stranger" by Billy Joel, Steely Dan's “Gaucho" and the soundtrack to “A Star is Born" by Barbra Streisand. His best- known solo was on the 1987 Sting album “Nothing Like the Sun," in a version of Jimi Hendrix's “Little Wing. But Mr. Bullock was always more than a session ace. He made his biggest impact in the realm of jazz-rock, funk and fusion, and his own albums, which often featured his singing and songwriting, never strayed far from that base. His last one, released on BHM in 2005, was “Too Funky 2 Ignore."

“At the beginning of the Letterman show, when I needed a band, I just co-opted the 24th Street Band," the keyboardist Paul Shaffer said, referring to “Late Night with David Letterman," which began broadcasting on NBC in 1982. The World's Most Dangerous Band, as Mr. Shaffer billed the group, brought particular attention to Mr. Bullock, who became known as the barefoot guitarist.

Behind the scenes, Mr. Bullock was earning a reputation for unreliability, one byproduct of a serious drug problem that persisted for years. “The relentlessness and regularity of the schedule just proved to be a little bit too much for Hiram," Mr. Shaffer said.

On Monday night “Late Show with David Letterman" included a special tribute to Mr. Bullock. “As I said on the show," Mr. Shaffer said, “I think he was the greatest guitar player ever, with the exception perhaps of Jimi Hendrix. Nobody was ever better."


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