A Rockapaedia Obituary
Tim Rose died aged sixty-two at a London hospital of a heart attack during a second operation for a lower bowel problem on 24th September 2002. He was buried in Brompton Cemetery in SouthWest London. Tim had no children.
Tim Rose was born in Washington, D.C., U.S.A. and raised by his mother Mary, his aunt, and his grandmother in an area known as South Fairlington Historic District, in Arlington, Virginia. Tim Rose learned to play the banjo and guitar, and won the top music award in high school. Tim Rose graduated from Gonzaga College Prep School, a noted Jesuit institution in DC, class of 1958. From there he joined the United States Air Force, in the pre-Vietnam era, and was stationed in Kansas. He later worked as a merchant seaman on the S.S. Atlantic and in a bank, before becoming involved in the music industry.
Tim's first band was The Singing Strings, which included his friend Scott McKenzie, who later joined with John Phillips (eventually of The Mamas & the Papas) in a local group called The Abstracts, later The Smoothies and eventually The Journeymen. Other members of the Strings were Buck Hunnicutt, Speery Romig and Alan Stubbs. In 1962, Tim Rose teamed up with ex-Smoothie Michael Boran as Michael and Timothy. Jake Holmes, Rich Husson and Tim Rose formed a group called The Feldmans, later known as Tim Rose and the Thorns.
In 1962 Tim Rose met singer Cass Elliot at a party in Georgetown and formed a folk trio with her and singer John Brown called The Triumvirate. Later, after Brown was replaced by James Hendricks, they changed the name to The Big 3. They soon landed a job at The Bitter End, a folk club in New York's Greenwich Village.
Their success grew, with appearances on national television programs, and they recorded two albums: The Big 3 in 1963 and The Big 3 Live at the Recording Studio in 1964. Songs included "Grandfather's Clock", and an anti-war dirge written by Fred Hellerman and Fran Minkoff, "Come Away Melinda", a re-recorded version of which was one of Tim Rose's most successful solo singles several years later. Tim Rose and Elliot had musical differences – both were inclined to want things done their way – and the band fell apart after Elliot and Hendricks secretly married. They had appeared on a number of U.S.A. television programs, including Hootenanny in 1963, The Danny Kaye Show in 1963, and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in 1962.
After The Big 3, Tim Rose went solo, and by 1966, his prospects had improved. In November of that year, he played two gigs at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco; headlining were the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. CBS Records signed Tim Rose to a multi-album record deal; the first album, Tim Rose, came out in 1967. It featured a new version of "Come Away Melinda" and "Long Time Man" , which was also previously recorded with The Big 3 as well as his versions of two songs that would become standards: Billy Roberts' "Hey Joe" and Bonnie Dobson's "Morning Dew". Both were released as singles, and would be further covered by many artists, from the Grateful Dead to Clannad. Backed up by a trio that included William Lewis Wexler on keyboards and flute.
In 1966, Tim was getting a lot of airplay with his single of "Hey Joe". It was copyrighted in 1962 by singer Billy Roberts, but Tim Rose claimed he heard it sung as a child in Florida, and as of 2009, Tim Rose's official website still claims the song is "traditional". Jimi Hendrix had seen Tim Rose performing at Cafe Wha? in New York City, and released a similarly slow version of Hey Joe in 1966 which became a huge hit, first in the UK, then worldwide.
Through Tim Rose Colored Glasses, followed in 1969. It met with critical disappointment and did not sell well. Love: A Kind of Hate Story was recorded at Island Studios in London and released in 1970. In addition to his musical career, by now Tim Rose had moved to London and would spend much of his life there. Other albums followed in the decade: Another, different album titled Tim Rose , The Musician , and the bootleg Unfinished Song.
By the mid 1970s, Tim's career had stalled. In an attempted comeback Los Angeles music publisher/songwriter Richard D. Kaye, acting as Tim's manager in 1976, arranged studio time for Tim to record the album Unfinished Song featuring seven new Tim Rose compositions and the title track "Unfinished Song" written by Kaye.
Tim Rose recorded The Gambler in 1977, with a group that included guitarist Andy Summers, only to find that the record company refused to release it. He returned to New York for a number of years, living in Hell's Kitchen on Restaurant Row, and then much later Lincoln Square near Central Park. Having lost his contacts in the music industry, he was forced to work as a construction laborer until an opportunity arose to sing jingles for TV commercials in early 1980. Tim Rose sang on many jingles, including Big Red gum and Wrangler Jeans, and voiced ads for the Big Apple Circus. This work funded his much-delayed college education, which he began at the age of 40. Tim Rose graduated in 1984 from Fordham University at Lincoln Center in Manhattan, with a degree in history. He became a Wall Street stockbroker and a teacher, got married, and eventually divorced. While working on Wall Street, he met Dennis Lepri, former lead guitarist for the folk rock group, Gunhill Road. They became friends and together collaborated on new material, performing in clubs throughout New York City. After the 1987 stock market crash, the two parted ways and Tim got out of the business. He continued writing and performing at select venues, such as The Bitter End. He also battled with alcoholism.
By the late 1980s, Tim Rose had reached the lowest point in his career. After his marriage broke up, he gave up drinking. In 1986, Nick Cave included "Long Time Man", a version very close to Tim Rose's, on the album Your Funeral, My Trial. Cave went on to assist Tim Rose in recovering his career, and encouraged him to play live shows again.
In 1991, The Gambler was finally released. In 1996, encouraged by Nick Cave and by Dutch film makers Suzan IJzermans and Jacques Laureys, he returned to Europe. Tim Rose performed at the Guildford, and Glastonbury Festivals. He went on to perform at the Royal Albert Hall opening for Nick Cave, and at the Shepherds Bush Empire and Queen Elizabeth Hall in London with co-writer and guitarist Mickey Wynne. A new album, Haunted, was released with recordings from these performances as well new studio material produced by Cave. He also appeared on the BBC Television show Later with Jools Holland, and performed with Robert Plant's folk-rock band, Priory of Brion. By the late 1990s to early 2000s, most of his back catalog had been re-released, and were available both in record stores and from Tim Rose's own web site, Tim-Tim Rose.co.uk.
In April 2001, the Tim Tim Rose Band was the opening act at the Bergen Blues and Jazz Festival in Norway. Jacques Laurey's biopic about Tim Rose, Where Was I? , was premiered at the Rotterdam Film Festival in the same year. His final solo album, American Son, was released in February 2002.