RIP: Tim Alexander, singer-songwriter

A few months ago, I posted something about the death of my friend Shasta Bates, a gifted singer-songwriter that I thought deserved to find success in the music industry.

Sadly, I’ve got another friend that add to to that category.

My friend Tim Alexander was one of the most creative singer-songwriters I’ve ever known. I met him years before I ever got involved with the LOUIE LOUIE documentary project. I loved the way he constructed music, blending catchy pop hooks with exotic sounds to create uniquely original compositions unlike anything I’d ever heard before.

I was not only a fan and friend, but I was also an investor in his music. Back in the early 80s, I stumbled upon an opportunity to work with a small record label with a New York musician that I believed was a geniune missing link between crazy hippy folk music and primal punk rock music. I wound up working with David Peel and his Orange Records DIY musical empire. I established Orange Records West to help coordinate promotion and distribution with the New York office, as well as work with up-and-coming musicians on the West Coast.

One of the few California artists I brought to the Orange Records empire was Tim and his band, A Western Front. Tim and the band moved from the Bay Area to Los Angeles, where they hoped they would find success in the music industry. Lacking a proper label to share his music, I offered to help Tim distribute his various cassette releases and his self-produced album “OFF TO THE ANGELS” with my Orange Records West business, as I was already working with various distributors.

When one of Tim’s songs was licensed as part of a soundtrack of new feature film, I thought it might be a good idea to release some type of record to cash in this new opportunity. I invested in a 4-song EP that I hoped would do well. With the then-current attention by the PMRC to encourage record labels to put warning labels to identify “dangerous music,” I came up with what I thought would be a novel way to market the product. On every record, I slapped on a label with the warning “Caution: the surgeon general has determined that reading these lyrics during the operation of an automobile may be hazardous to your health.”

Sadly, the record didn’t sell very well. To make matters worse, the film that we thought would include Tim’s music was released with another name, and an entirely different soundtrack.

Later on, I decided I didn’t really want to run a record label anymore. I was more interested in video production, and didn’t want to deal with any additional headaches, other than the ones I already had….

I never gave up on Tim, as I’ve always been a major fan of his music, and loved hearing about whatever creations he shared with me. I did create some video productions for Tim, including this little film production that utilized one of the songs on the 4-song EP that I released….

A Western Front – “Ten Steps”

Here’s a little video I shot when I was attending San Jose State. At the time, I was into using moire-type visual effects, so I used some artsy-fartsy special for this studio production. In retrospect, I think I probably over-did it with the effects, but it is what it is- a special moment in time that turned out to be the only video of this particular song.

Tim Alexander – “I Could Live in the Orchard”

Over the years, I had a hard time keeping track of all of Tim’s musical projects and aliases. Besides A Western Front, there was also IMRU, The Sweet Life, Baby, The Slowest Train in the World, Elijah Craig, and simply “Bab.”

Luckily, he linked with a guy named Beach and joined forces to create Quagmire Records, which allowed him the freedom to release his music in exactly the manner he chose to release his music.

Here’s one particular composition he did with The Slowest Train in the World that I really loved…

The Slowest Train in the World – I’m Without My Rider

I wish I could say I kept in better touch with Tim. It saddens on me on so many different levels that he’s no longer with us. It’s been a week since I heard the news, and it’s still a bit of a shock. There’s so much more I can say about Tim, but I think I’ll save it for later…

Rest in peace, my friend. You will absolutely not be forgotten.

(P.S. As far as I know, Tim never performed LOUIE LOUIE)

12 comments to RIP: Tim Alexander, singer-songwriter

  • Mona

    I have so many good memories of Tim. Thank you for sharing yours.

  • Lex

    Thanks Eric…great little retrospective and tribute to a friend we’ll all miss and were lucky to know.
    See you on the other side Tim…

  • Annie

    Thank you for sharing. Tim is the most amazing musician, singer-songwriter, recording artist, creator… his legend lives on. He is loved and revered. Nothing can take away the emptiness left by his departure. All we can do is honor his music, listen to it and spread it and send him Love. Tim: May you rock the universe with all the greats, eternally! You deserve perfect bliss. R.I.P. Rest in peace and rock in peace. I will miss you. I can’t wait to see you on the other side.

  • N.G.

    I was fortunate enough to play with Tim in A Western Front back in the late 80’s and I’m saddened to hear of his passing. We lost another member (Dale) in the early 90’s due to tragic circumstances as well. I was a fan of the band long before I was a member and revered Tim’s talent (Biff and Dale too). I recently found the Youtube clips of Tim and AWF and enjoyed the nostalgic trip. I’ve thought of Tim frequently over the years and will remember him well.

  • David Mariottini

    If this is the Tim Alexander Im thinking of, then Im very sad to hear the news. I had met Tim while @ Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose at the Coffee station in the cafeteria, where he was working. I noticed he had a business card out that read Tim Alexander Guitar, Bass Voice, theory, composition and I talked to him about my son’s guitar playing. It’s the only time I’d met Tim, I may have said hello one other time, but then in December I learned from another coffee employee that Tim has suddenly passed away. How? This is so tragic. I knew from meeting Tim that he was very passionate about his guitar instruction. Tim, if you can hear me: May the chords of your spirit soar around this planet though every orchard, though every human being who knew you. Rest in Peace. David

  • Marc Friedlander

    Just read this and am devastated to hear about Tim (and Dale). I “discovered” A Western Front right after they moved to LA and I directed 2 or 3 videos of the group, because we became friendly and I thought they had a good chance to “make it”. I also put them on my cable show “South Coast Live”, where the host of my show, KROQ’s The Poorman, did a great interview with Dale and Tim (Robert wasn’t there I think). I’ll find it and post it on youtube one day. No to Tim would be complete without this first video I ever shot for them, Joan of Arc””. It had hit potential! Here’s the link:

  • EP

    Thank you, Marc for your kind words! I loved that clip you did for “Joan of Arc!”

    By all means, please feel free to share MORE Tim videos!

  • Mouse, KM

    Was just thinking of Timmy, and looking for one of songs online (“All Things Must Pass”–okay, actually a Harrison song, sung by Dale in A Western Front), and I came across this. I didn’t even know there was a video of “I’m Without My Rider” and I was in the band. Thanks for this.

    Kevin M
    (In the Louie Louie cannon with The Stevens and Stop the Keg.)

  • Dave Ristrim

    I’ve been dealing with family health problems of late and somehow that brought me listening to some of “Bab’s” later work. I remember seeing A Western Front at the Keystone in Palo Alto back in the very early 80’s. I was so impressed. I somehow ended up continuing in the music business and always felt a little strange that Tim didn’t find his place in that world (a whole different subject). He has made an indelible mark on my career, trust me.
    God Bless,

  • Rob

    I knew Tim and played in a band with him in the late 90’s for a few months. What a talented writer. I learned a lot about doing music from Tim. The 2 posthumous albums that have come out in the last year or so are possibly the best work of his that I have heard so far. “The Sweet Life” is a fantastic and deep album but Baby! (Comes Alive) just shreds. Loud noisy violent punk blues is how I describe the Baby! Cassette release which I play in my car all the time now. You gotta hear it.

  • Rob

    Also, can someone please explain what happened to Tim and how he died? I keep hearing different stories some of which sound pretty crazy and so would like to know WTF happened?

  • Kristen

    Hi. My name is Kristen and I am 25 years old. i grew up knowing Tim, my childhood surrounded by his music, his guitars, everything. I am Jennifer’s little sister. I wanted to get in touch with somebody to maybe share some things about my sister and Tim. My sister has since passed, so all those memories are gone and all I have is this blog that I found online today. I still dream about both of them, constantly. A lot of this article sounds familiar, I remember meeting “Beach” at one point, I remember so many things but I still want to be reminded.!
    Seeing some pictures of him gives my heart some closure. I just never got to say goodbye. He was a huge part of my childhood.
    If maybe someone could send me an email.
    [email protected]

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