Sunday, January 14, 2018

WEST GROVE: A life well lived

Singer-songwriter Billy Penn Burger of West Grove died on Jan. 6 at Temple University Hospital at age 63. I asked Biff McNeil to share a little bit about him, and he wrote this beautiful obituary:

"Billy Penn Burger was most certainly an accomplished musician.  I had the honor of working with him numerous times over the past 20 years, both as a player and a sound engineer. He was an absolute joy to work with.  He had an easy going way of letting you know exactly what he wanted from you, getting it out of you, and making you feel incredibly at ease all at the same time. 
"Billy was one of those musicians who continuously reinvented himself.   From The Get Right Band in the late 70’s and 80’s, to The Billy Penn Project in the 90’s, to his latest solo work as a singer songwriter, and all the side work and other stuff in between, he truly did it all.  His songs are gorgeous, his lyrics evocative, and he churned them out at an almost alarming rate.  He won awards, received critical accolades, and played to sold-out houses.  Anyone who ever worked with him will tell you all of those things. 
"But invariably, any discussion of Billy will quickly turn into a discussion of what an incredibly nice guy he was.  He was the very definition of a good human being.   It sounds corny, but he just exuded calm, kindness, and peace.  Billy was extraordinarily giving to young songwriters and musicians, always with a smile and an encouraging word, no matter what.  There really just aren’t enough superlatives.   
"Billy Burger was hugely talented without a hint of arrogance, sweet and kind without being saccharine, and socially passionate without being angry. I admired him in so many ways. He was a true gentleman, and a truly gentle man, and there is surely a little less light in the world without him. "

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