The Editor Apologizes

By Paul Moffett

Due to an unfortunate error on the my part, the story about Ricky Lee Schill run in the January issue omitted entirely the news that Mr. Schill had died in November.

The author, Chuck Baxter, was understandably upset and I sincerely apologize to him for the mistake. I also apologize to Ricky Lee Schill's family and friends for any emotional harm brought about by this error.

The correct story, as sent to me by Mr. Baxter, with additions requested by Mr. Baxter, is reprinted below without editing.

Ricky Lee Schill

By Chuck Baxter

Ricky Lee Schill began playing guitar when he was 9 years old, in his hometown of Crothersville, IN . His first successful band came in the late 1960's, when he replaced another kid named John Mellencamp as the bass player for a Seymour, IN R&B band called Crepe Soul. That group featured a pure soulful vocalist, Freddy Booker, as well as drummer Duane Zimmerman (Bob Dylan's cousin).

Ricky Lee was always a prolific painter, and he attended art school throughout the 1970's at the Louisville School of Art, Fairleigh Dickenson in New Jersey, and Columbia in NYC. Frustrated by the formalism of art school, Ricky Lee quit school just 16 hours short of a doctorate degree in fine art, and devoted his full energies to pursuing his individual artistic vision.

When Ricky Lee returned to Louisville, he played a few shows with Louisville's first punk band, No Fun, and recorded with Bobby Idol & the All-Stars. From 1980 through 1982, he played driving bass with the Mindpods, a ferocious experience featuring Bill Barney on guitar, Becky Venus on vocals and Mike Drummer, uh, drummer.

In 1982, Ricky Lee and an Indiana friend, Kenny O. Williams, founded Poor Girls as an artistic tribal collective, as prolific with paintbrushes as with beatnik punk songwriting. Playing frequently at Tewligans, the Beat clubs and the few other Louisville venues available, Poor Girls became focused as a 4-piece rock outfit, releasing one cassette and one album of unique tunes, recorded at Jeff Carpenter's Real to Reel studios. In addition to Ricky Lee's bass and Kenny O.'s vocals, Chuk Baxter (that's me) played guitar and Barry Stucker drummed. Other occasional participants in the noise included Roea Wallace on pots, pans & kitchen chairs, and Pierre Vendette on sax. The group moved to Philadelphia in 1985 seeking East Coast opportunities and an eventual chance to go play Amsterdam. The band shared stages with groups as diverse as the quirky Violent Femmes and the hard-rocking UK Subs and Big Black. Unfortunately, Poor Girls left another recording project unfinished and unmixed in Philly when they broke up in late 1986.

Through a series of splinter groups and free-wheeling jam ensembles, Ricky Lee kept playing and painting. In the early-mid 1990's he picked up a Stratocaster and led the Hools, a Bloomington, IN band, in persistent high-energy songcrafting. The Hools played some Louisville shows. Ricky also played with a number of other acoustic lineups in Bloomington during the `90's, and with some of his Crepe Soul mates around Seymour.

Ricky Lee died early Nov. 3, 1998. He had been sick, first from a stroke about two months earlier that paralyzed his right side, then liver failure and shutdown of his other organs. The only part of his body apparently unaffected by his physical deterioration was his left hand, which looked as strong and vibrant as ever.

Ricky Lee was buried Nov. 6 in his favorite black turtleneck, black jeans, rose-tinted glasses and full jewelry. He was laid to rest in his family's plot in Crothersville. Later, Sarah Pike & her father held a wake in Bloomington to celebrate Ricky's life. Many musicians / artists / fellow characters were there, in a gathering held at a tattoo parlor over an adult boutique next to a sushi bar. Fitting. At least 4 or 5 different band lineups of Ricky's were represented, and we passed guitars around and all tried to remember the words to some Ricky's songs.

I was looking through some old lyrics that Sarah, typed up in the mid 80's for something to read at the wake. Amid Ricky's words about love/sex/art, I found this statement:

THE FINAL DREAM

Mostly, I dream in such a manner

of visions and hopes and revisions of ideas

clear only to me,

and rejections are inevitable only in a real sense.

No one loves and respects expression in the same realm

as only I can in being a dreamer.

Firstly you must expect yourself as only a dream

and you can turn yourself on and off as a dream;

control becomes vital here as you would not yourself

wish to be a bad dream.

Take it as only that and

nothing more can be rude awakening,

for you truly are what you must dream.

Secondly, the concept in which you escape to

must be worthwhile

and live it as you love yourself,

for thought, pure thought, is of the highest ranking dream.

Then, your goals and sanctions too, must be realized

as visions, hopes and revisions,

as you, yourself

are the final dream.

Ricky Lee's surviving bandmates from the Poor Girls are honoring his memory and spirit with new resolve to re-release their original recordings on CD. The efforts of co-producer Sandy/Stu/Fret, engineer Jeff Carpenter at Al Fresco's Place, and Falk Studios have freshened up the stereo masters from 1984's "No Rhythm Dancing" and 1985's "poor girls" album for digital release on a single disc. John Timmons has agreed to release the CD on the ear X-tacy label, and copies should be available soon. WFPK Radio Louisville has an advance copy of the CD for preview airplay.

Thank you to Louisville Music News for the opportunity to share this with faithful friends, fans, dancers and you. A light has gone out, and we'll all have to pick up the slack. Rest in peace, Ricky Lee.