Guitarist Ivan Julian — a co-founder of the seminal punk group Richard Hell & the Voidoids and a member of many notable New York and New Jersey bands over the last 45 years— has poured his soul into his music, for all of us. And now he is suffering from cancer and in need of the support of his fans and friends. Bowery Electric in New York will host an all-star benefit for him, March 23 at 6:30 p.m.; all proceeds will be donated to the Ivan Julian Medical Fund. Visit theboweryelectric.com.
Performers will include The Fleshtones; Nick Zinner and Brian Chase (of Yeah Yeah Yeahs) with Eugene Hütz (of Gogol Bordello); Lenny Kaye of Patti Smith’s band; Leah Hennessey; Tom Clark & the High Action Boys; The Burnt Sugar Arkestra (with Vernon Reid); The Skull Practitioners; Mike Daly & the Planets; and Diane & the Gentleman, featuring Tomás Doncker.
Also, the band The Health & Happiness Show — featuring James Mastro (of The Bongos and Ian Hunter’s Rant Band), Feelies co-founder Vinny DeNunzio, Tony Shanahan (of Patti Smith’s band), Dave de Castro (of Steve Wynn & the Miracle 3) and Erik Della Penna — will reunite for the first time since 2013.
“Ivan Julian is one of the main reasons I play guitar,” said Mastro. “I first saw him play at CBGB in 1977. I’d never seen a guitarist command a stage and instrument with such excitement like that before. I just remember his right hand was driving up and down like a jackhammer, while his left hand moved like a flock of startled starlings over the neck of his Stratocaster. Inspiring stuff for a 16-year old to see.
“We became friends soon after, and have worked on and off together for over 30 years. I’ve gotten so much more from Ivan than I can ever return, so our reuniting for this benefit is just a small way to pay it back.”
DeNunzio added: “Ivan has been one of my dearest and closest friends since we met in the ’70s. He needs our help. It’s going to be a great and special night of music.”
Julian hit the music scene in the early 1970s, touring the world with the pop group The Foundations, best known for their hits “Build Me Up Buttercup” and “Baby, Now That I’ve Found You.” As a member of the Voidoids, he played on their landmark 1977 album, Blank Generation, and co-wrote two of its songs, In addition, he co-founded the groups The Outsets (with DeNunzio and others) and the Lovelies (with his then-wife, former Bush Tetra vocalist Cynthia Sley, and others).
Julian also played with the Health and Happiness Show “on and off from 1999 through our farewell show in 2001,” said Mastro. “He played some great guitar on a track or two on our last album Sad and Sexy. And prior to Health and Happiness Show, Ivan also played and recorded in my band Strange Cave.”
Julian contributed to acclaimed albums such as The Clash’s Sandinista! and Matthew Sweet’s Altered Beast, and also worked with The Isley Brothers, Richard Barone, Shriekback and many others. He owns a studio, Super Giraffe Sound, in Brooklyn.
After he was diagnosed with stage III gastrointestinal cancer in 2015, his friends rallied to support him with two benefit concerts at City Winery in New York. Though his cancer was thought to be in remission in 2016, it has recurred.
If you cannot make the concert, you can make a donation at this gofundme.com page. According to the page, he has an aggressive form of cancer requiring major surgery and a lengthy recovery period. Funds will be used for surgery, post-operative care, living expenses while he is out of work, and out-of-pocket medical expenses.
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