Duane Jarvis, a stalwart of the Los Angeles roots music scene whose lead guitar work landed him stints playing with Dwight Yoakam, Lucinda Williams, John Prine, Michelle Shocked and others when he wasn't recording and touring as a respected singer-songwriter in his own right, died Wednesday after a long bout with colon cancer. He was 51.
Jarvis died at his home in Marina del Rey, where he was receiving hospice care after stopping treatment that in recent months had included two major surgeries and three rounds of chemotherapy, according to Kevin Jarvis, a drummer who performed frequently with his older brother.
Duane passed away this morning at 1:30 a.m. with a smile on his face," Kevin Jarvis wrote in an e-mail sent Wednesday to family members and friends. We knew time was short by the way things were going that day, although Duane surprised us a little by leaving us quite so soon."
Jarvis' guitar work was prized by some of the most esteemed practitioners of Americana music for its emotive power, musical economy and sonic atmospherics. As a songwriter with a handful of solo albums to his credit, he often sought out the light in even the darkest life scenarios, which he sang in a laconic, reedy voice that fell between the Southern rock drawl of Tom Petty and the bluesy scowl of Mick Jagger.
The thing I'll always carry with me about Duane is that there was something pure in his happiness about music. I always felt he was just a smile away. . . . He'd give me that sideways look like we were getting away with something, that we'd been let loose in the magic sandbox," Yoakam said Wednesday.
It's country rock by way of the British invasion," Jarvis told the Portland Oregonian in 1994. Those guys--the Who, the Kinks, the Stones--were listening to American music anyway. I always felt there was a common thread through all that."
Similarly attuned musicians in Los Angeles drew Jarvis from Oregon, where he'd become a popular club attraction, playing in bands including the Odds, 2 Minutes 50 and Map of France.