RIP: Will Owsley (1965-2010)
Singer/songwriter/guitarist/producer Will Owsley, a respected solo artist and sideman for numerous artists, died of an apparent suicide on April 30th in Franklin, TN.
In the early '90s Owsley, alongside bassist Millard Powers and eventual Who/Oasis drummer Zak Starkey—and, briefly, Ben Folds—were in The Semantics, a great power pop band whose only album, Powerbill, was supposed to have been released by Geffen Records in 1993. Shortly before the release date the label shelved the album; the band broke up and that, at the time, was that. Three years later, with the Ben Folds Five’s profile on the rise internationally, the album was released exclusively in Japan where it sold about 20,000 copies without any significant promotion.
In the aftermath of The Semantics’ break up Owsley, an accomplished guitarist, found himself touring as a sideman for the likes of Amy Grant and Shania Twain, saving enough money to meticulously record a solo album on his own, a la Boston’s Tom Scholz. That self-titled disc [Giant/Warner Bros-1999] (above) garnered much critical acclaim and a Grammy nomination for Best Engineered Album.
On a personal note, Owsley's solo debut has not only brought us much pleasure and inspiration over the years, but our incessant raves about it eventually made many of those in our inner circle the proud owners of this gem; one that is both power and pop in equal measure, via its crunchy guitars and irresistible melodies.
Will Owsley was 44 years old.
[Concert photo courtesy of Amy Grant via Facebook]