Memorial – celebration for
Brief memorial service to be led by Rev. Bill Teska
Musicians (and instruments) will be coming
The Star Tribune and St. Paul Pioneer Press have run nice articles on Bill – see below. In addition, check out the following
Picture and article by Garrison Keillor:
William Bradbury Hinkley
Hinkley, William Bradbury Age 67, of
RIP Bill. Boat for sale.
Published in the Star Tribune and
A farewell to Bill Hinkley
Provided by "A Prairie Home Companion"
Judy Larson, Bill Hinkley, Garrison Keillor, Bob Douglas and Rudy
He was a hero, mentor and friend to hundreds of
By PAUL METSA, Special to the Star Tribune Last
I am not sure they make men like Bill Hinkley anymore.
The patriarch and godfather of Minneapolis' West Bank music scene, Hinkley was a master musician, an Air Force veteran who spoke five languages (including Greek and Mandarin Chinese), a self-taught multi-instrumentalist, a human jukebox of thousands of songs, storyteller, teacher, sit- down comedian, devoted lover-then- husband of Judy Larson for five decades, historian, hero, mentor and friend to hundreds of musicians and thousands of fans.
He was both Will Rogers with a mandolin and a philosopher king who held sway in saloons, concert halls, radio shows, campfires, kitchen tables, festivals and benefits -- the kind of American who defines this country, and one I was honored to call my friend.
Hinkley, who died Tuesday at age 67, had been fighting a blood disorder for the past couple of years that sapped his strength but never his love for music or his God-given calling to entertain and enlighten with his encyclopedic knowledge of music -- in all styles, from every country and in all time signatures.
As a performer he swung and improvised with an
abandon that reminded one of Joe Venuti, Django Reinhardt or the Mississippi Sheiks.
He could quote anyone from Shakespeare to Dick Tracy. He had a sense of humor that
recalled, at turns, the likes of Mark
Twain, H.L Mencken or Lord Buckley. And
believe me, you have not lived until you've heard Bill
Hinkley and Judy Larson sing "Amazing Grace" to the melody of the
A Twin Cities musician friend
referred to Hinkley as "our Socrates." Witnessing the dozens of friends who made the pilgrimage
to Hinkley's hospice at the
As we assembled there in the community room on May 20, right before dinner, the wheelchairs of disabled vets rolled in. You could sense a solidarity with one of their own -- brothers in arms, enjoying the fruits and flowering of their service and sacrifice via Brother Bill.
I recently learned that Hinkley
attended the same
Hinkley's greatest lessons to me were distilled in two simple concepts: "End every story with a smile or a laugh," and "the best music is played without pretension."
While Hinkley and Larson never got rich playing folk music -- he was never in the music business, but rather was in the business of making music, a servant to the song -- all of us got richer listening to them play.
The man whom Garrison Keillor called the “Buddha of the
By JON BREAM, Star
Tribune Last update:
The way Garrison Keillor introduced them -- "BillHinkleyandJudyLarson"
-- they were inseparable:
It's now just Judy Larson. Hinkley died Tuesday of a blood disorder in a
hospice at the
In his final days, a who's who of
"We had quite a circus there," Larson said. "Music was woven into him. We tied a mandolin around his neck and he'd try to play. He'd join in to sing even though he hadn't talked all day. Music revived him."
"We were all pretty aware of the severity of the situation," Metsa recalled. "Bill came rolling in singing 'Heartbreak Hotel,' lightening the load for all of us. At one point he stood up, cane in one hand, and his other hand holding mine strongly. He closed his eyes and sang 'Abide With Me.' Dakota Dave Hull was playing guitar, with Bill shouting out some of the trickier chords as they went along. He then gave a two-minute dissertation on the two guys that wrote the song, with a note about the monosyllabic second verse. A teacher 'til the end."
Hinkley, who taught himself how to play mandolin, fiddle, guitar and banjo,
taught for decades at the West Bank
School of Music in
"He inspired, encouraged and facilitated the whole contest -- he was its guiding force," said Nate Dungan, who books entertainment at the fair. "And he won the Gamblers Competition every year, where you draw a song title out of a hat and have to play it. There's only one person I could say who knew more about American popular song than Bill, and that was Tiny Tim."
Hinkley and Larson were the first musical guests ever on "A Prairie Home Companion." "Bill, without an instrument in his hands, could be gruff and jumpy and growl at you," Keillor said Tuesday.
"Bill, playing his mandolin or fiddle or guitar, was
always in g ood humor and sometimes even blissful. He was self-taught,
stubborn, very generous -- especially to
students. He lived in music, put it in his coffee, spread it on his
toast. He and Judy
were the Buddha and Juddha of the
In addition to his wife, Hinkley is survived by his daughter and granddaughter in
Bill Hinkley on the porch of the West Bank School of Music, 1989
Star Tribune photo by Joey McLeister
Bill Hinkley, folk-music master, West Bank guru and “A Prairie Home Companion” mainstay, died Tuesday at the VA hospital in Minneapolis. He was 67.
As Garrison Keillor would introduce them, it was BillHinkleyandJudyLarson – so inseparable that Keillor spoke of them as if they were one. They were regulars on Prairie Home’s early years. And Hinkley, a singer/mandolinist/fiddler/guitarist/banjo player and longtime teacher at the West Bank School of Music, made music up until his last days. There was a gathering of friends and fellow musicians playing at Hinkley’s hospice on Friday.
Minneapolis singer/songwriter Paul Metsa recalls a moment with Bill Hinkley and Judy Larson from nine days ago:
“There were five or six of us waiting for him to come back from his room. We were all pretty aware of the severity of the situation. Bill came rolling into the room singing ‘Heartbreak Hotel,’ lightening the load for all of us. At one point he stood up, cane in one hand, and his other hand holding mine strongly. He closed his eyes and sang ‘Abide with Me,’ an old hymn from 1850 or so. Dakota Dave Hull was playing guitar, with Bill shouting out some of the trickier chords as they went along. He then gave a 2-minute dissertation on the two guys that wrote the song, with a note about the monosyllabic second verse. A teacher ‘til the end.”
Hinkley was suffering from a blood disorder that caused his bone marrow to manufacture an overabundance of red blood cells.
Pioneer Press - Updated:
Twin Cities folk icon Bill Hinkley died Tuesday at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center. He was 67.
An original member of the "A Prairie Home Companion" performing cast, Hinkley taught hundreds of local students guitar, fiddle, mandolin and banjo. He was inducted into the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame in 1999. Hinkley and his wife and musical partner, Judy Larson, earned a lifetime achievement award from the Minnesota Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Association.
A St. Louis native, Hinkley spent time in
In a statement on his website, Garrison Keillor remembered Hinkley as someone who "chose to live his life on his own terms, off the clock and outside the grid. He had little interest in the music business as such, marketing, networking and so forth. He enjoyed playing the radio show, I think, but he would just as soon sit around in his back yard for six hours with friends and play their way through a river of tunes, one after another."
Hinkley was suffering from a blood disorder and spent his final days in hospice. A Facebook tribute page, "Friends of Bill Hinkley and Judy Larson," was flooded Tuesday afternoon with memories and anecdotes from friends and family. Funeral arrangements are pending.
— Ross Raihala
From the Star Tribune
Scanned images from the St. Paul Pioneer Press