Robert Quine is considered one of the greatest guitarists of all time, he’s in the Rolling Stones Top 100 list, and an original member of Richard Hell and The Voidoids. He has collaborated with groundbreaking musicians including Tom Waits, Lou Reed, Brian Eno, John Zorn, Lloyd Cole, Marianne Faithfull, Lydia Lunch, Material, Mathew Sweet, They Might Be Giants, and more. He’s related to another great influential guitarist, Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys.
Both were raised in Akron, Ohio, yet Quine moved around. One stop in San Francisco to record hours of the Velvet Underground on cassette tapes, later known as The Quine Tapes. Later landing in New York, working in a film memorabilia shop with Richard Hell and Tom Verlaine, he recruited Marc Bell, later to be Marky Ramone, to form Richard Hell and Voidoids. Quine’s musical taste was most likely not the same as his bandmates, practicing to Miles Davis or even Ted Hawkins.
Just after his death in 2004, I was fortunate enough to have been at the right place, or in the right record shop, at the right time, when his record collection was being carted in. The collection was extensive, and particularly of interest to me were the rare European rockabilly compilations.
Years later I found his cousin, Tim Quine, through his website, RubberCityReview, containing special sections on Robert Quine. I invited him to share some family memories and more on what influenced this ground-breaking guitarist.
The full interview below is featured in sections on Freeform Portland this month playing at random times.
Part 1 is on Robert Quine’s amazing and diverse career.
Part 2 is on the music that influenced him.
Tim Quine: When he landed in NYC back in the 70’s, he was pretty well schooled, He took jazz lessons. He was a blues freak. He loved Rockabilly. He brought all of that to his style of playing.
Dan is my nephew and Rob is my second cousin. They lived a block away from each other. They didn’t meet until Dan was in his late teens. He had started recording with The Black Keys. Dan dragged a couple of his Teisco Del Ray guitars over. Rob really dug that he had weird ass guitars and he seemed to know what he was talking about, so they jammed together.
He wore headphones and would mix his guitar in with what he was listening to. That’s how he liked to practice. He loved stuff that was atonal or chord uncertain. It didn’t matter what he played, as long as he played it with conviction.
When Rob got done recording with Andre’ Williams he said, ‘Now I’ve played with two geniuses, Lou Reed and Andre Williams.”
He gained a lot more fame for playing with Lou Reed. Beyond that he recorded with all kinds of people, on a couple of records he’s playing along with Keith Richards.
Link Wray was a big influence on both of them (Quine & Auerbach). Rob said that when he recorded at a studio for Richard Hell and The Voidoids, they were at a studio where Link Wray was also recording. Rob used Link Wray’s amplifier. To this day when Dan sets up with The Black Keys he points all of his amplifiers off to the side, just like Link Wray used to do.
When Rob had to turn down recording gigs he would recommend Jody Harris or Marc Ribot. Marc was one of Rob’s favorite guitarists. I think he recorded two songs with The Black Keys.
He (Rob) wasn’t the friendliest guy. He wouldn’t open up to you until he figured you knew what you were talking about. My nephew Dan has a theory that a lot of his pent up anger and frustration came from being stuck in a boarding school for four years.
(on live videos with Lou Reed) He looks unemotional but what he is playing, he is practically strangling his guitar
DJ Rosa inRoseCity is host of The LePtineLLa LoUnGe on alternating Tuesday evenings, 6-8pm. She has been a radio DJ since 11 years old working at stations including KKCR Kaua’i Community Radio, WRCT Pittsburgh, pirate Radio Honderd in Amsterdam, WFMU, and more. Raised blocks from Grand Central Station in Manhattan, former New York scene reporter for the infamous international punk zine, Maximum Rock n Roll, she spent many years in various underground New York scenes. Under various DJ names, she has interviewed scientists, musicians, politicians, doctors, financial analysts, and more.
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