Grace Pool

From 2001 to 2003, I was a staff copy editor at Esquire magazine. It was my first taste of corporate America: Esquire is owned by Hearst Magazines, a gigantic, somewhat shadowy private corporation that was rumored to be operated out of a castle somewhere on the Northern California coast.

There were, of course, many cool people in that office, but one of my favorites was Bob Riley. This was not only because Bob, as the magazine’s tech guy, bailed me and my computer out of numerous jams. It was also because Bob was warm, calm, utterly professional–and cool. He used to wear a really nice brown leather jacket.

Later I learned that his coolness was no front, but the real rock ‘n’ roll deal: Throughout the eighties, he was an in-demand New York session drummer and a member of Rage to Live, a great band whose self-titled 1986 debut was the first release on Hoboken’s Bar/None Records. (Bar/None’s founder, Glenn Morrow, was Rage to Live’s singer and guitarist.) With his wife, vocalist Elly Brown, Bob then formed the band Grace Pool and took on a broader range of multi-instrumental and production duties. Grace Pool released two albums for Reprise: Grace Pool ( 1988 ) and Where We Live ( 1990 ). In the picture above, he’s the one with the tie.

Last spring I was terribly saddened to learn that Bob, the father of two, had passed away from a sudden heart attack. I never had the chance to talk to him about his music–I never really had the chance to talk to him about anything, really, besides my gratitude for his unfreezing my Mac. I did go out and buy his albums, though. I like to think that, in a small way, listening to them is like having that conversation I never had.

Rage to Live: “My Heroine”

Grace Pool: “Awake with the Rain”