RIP: Ted Gehrke, San Jose blues king + friend of LOUIE

Last weekend, San Jose lost a great man by the name of Ted Gehrke.

Ted was the founder of the San Jose Fountain Blues Festival, the longest running blues festival in the SF Bay Area.

Ted was a good friend, and a big advocate of the LOUIE documentary project.

Here’s a photo of Ted with Ray Manzarek of the Doors, who told me about Jim Morrison singing LOUIE LOUIE with Ray’s old band, Rick and the Ravens.

My friend Gary Singh wrote an excellent article about Ted’s legacy, which includes these opening paragraphs:

In 1981, when downtown San Jose resembled a cracked mosaic of dying retail and skid row environs, Ted Gehrke conspired to launch a blues festival on the campus of San Jose State University. Thirty-eight years later, that festival is still held every summer. Gehrke, who passed away last weekend at 79, was a true promotional warrior for all things music, all things San Jose and all things poetry.

He ran with the likes of Taj Mahal and Frank Zappa before he even landed with the Associated Students Program Board at SJSU, for whom he oversaw countless blues festivals and hundreds of other concerts, like U2’s now-legendary show at the SJSU Student Union Ballroom. Across decades and every possible demographic of outré spirit, he never gave up on this city. He believed in the potential of San Jose when nobody else did.

A few years ago, I shot a series of interviews of Ted for a now-nonexistent Americana foundation. I used a few soundbites from those interviews to create this little promotional clip for the San Jose Fountain Blues organization, which was transformed into a non-profit organization a few years later….. and still running strong!!

We are going to miss you, my friend.


San Jose Metro – Remembering Ted Gehrke by Gary Singh
San Jose Fountain Blues Festival official webpage

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