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8347: David X. Young: From David's daughter

From: Eliza Alys Young <eliza@wolfimaging.com>

Friends of David:

I am writing you about my father David X. Young. Please forgive the
delay in contacting you.

Many of you I have already contacted so please excuse the redundancy in
this but I'm trying to reach as many people as I can. Those of you who
have not heard from me by phone can expect a call in the coming weeks if
my father had your number in his phone list. I am able to email you now
because he had your email address.

Most, if not all, of you are aware that my father passed away on
5.22.01. For those of you who are just learning this, I'm sorry it has
to be this way. I am handling all of his affairs and as you can imagine,
this is a very difficult time on many levels.

I wanted to contact all of you to let you know what was happening and to
open the door for you to talk to me for any reason.

Currently I am staying in my father's loft at 336 Canal Street and can
be reached at my father's same phone number: 212.431.5262. I am
reachable by email the fastest at this address but am also checking my
father's email intermittently.I will be in the loft for an indefinite
period and will even, most likely, be relocating up north from my home
in Florida. There are issues with the loft which I hope to resolve --
they are already trying to evict me -- but in the scope of things, that
is not much to worry about for now at least.

In terms of my fathers possessions, I am taking great care to preserve
and inventory all of his creative work which includes, as you all know,
thousands of paintings, photos, films, writings, music and more. Before
I can fully immerse myself in an inventory, however, I need to
completely clean the loft so that I can prevent the work from getting
dirty or damaged. I'm about halfway through that process now.

Once the art is inventoried, and the work cross-referenced with the
cataloging my father did (he was thankfully very thorough in this) then
I can determine what pieces may be unaccounted for. Yes, unfortunately,
some pieces are clearly missing and don't seem to be given away
according to my father's records which were very thorough. If anyone has
any information on where work may be, and in whose hands, please let me
know. I realize my father was a very generous man with his work and
loaned or gave many things out so part of what I'm trying to determine
is what is where.

At the same time as all this is happening, I'm also following up on the
projects he had in the works which is another large task.

My ultimate goal is to redo his web site, http://www.bluuchip.com, to
include a searchable database of all his work (I am a web developer for
those who don't know) and to develop project-specific sites to gain
exposure. In the meantime, all I have been able to do is put up a
tribute page on the site.

As you can gather, I have my hands full. I greatly appreciate all the
kind words from everyone. I've never been afraid of challenges before
and this is certainly one of them. Of course in between all the work I
do get a chance now and then to think about how I feel. I suppose I'm
thankful there aren't too many moments to do that right now.

Many of you have asked about whether or not there will be a memorial. My
father's wishes were to be cremated so there was no funeral but a
memorial will be planned, most likely for the fall. I haven't started on
that task yet but hope to sometime in July. I actually would like to
have two memorials, one in NYC and one in Cape Cod, another place he is
much missed. My father didn't want a sober event so it will most likely
be something festive with good music and good food -- just the type of
event he would have liked to go to.

I will be sure to contact everyone well in advance of both memorials so
that everyone that wants to attend can have the chance to.

For those of you who did not get a chance to read the NY Times obituary
on my father, which came out Sunday June 3nd, then I have enclosed it
below. As with most articles, they got several things wrong -- see my
notes below the article -- but the sheer size of the article alone let
everyone know that my father's passing did not go unnoticed.

June 3, 2001

David Young Dies at 71; Painter and Friend to Jazz Artists


David X. Young, a painter whose rodent-infested, illegally rented loft
became a citadel of jazz improvisation and experimentation in the 1950's
and 60's, died on May 22 in Manhattan. He was 71.

The cause was a heart attack, said his daughter, Eliza Alys Young.

The loft, in an industrial building at 821 Avenue of the Americas, near
28th Street, became a gathering place for the greats of jazz, including
Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk and Dizzy Gillespie, as
well as for utter unknowns who simply yearned to play.

Known simply as "the Sixth Avenue loft," it was one of maybe a half-
dozen places where musicians gathered at a time when various strains of
jazz ? mainstream, bebop and cool, among others ? were percolating.
Situated in the heart of the flower district, it was the epicenter of
what became known as loft jazz.

"By most accounts, it drew the biggest names, showcased the latest
talent and lasted the longest," said an article in the fall 1999 issue
of Double Take magazine.

"Guys played with people they'd never seen before," Bob Brookmeyer, a
trombone player, said in the article. "Whites, blacks, old guys, young
guys. Nobody cared about that stuff. We were all outlaws. Our profession
wasn't considered respectable. There was a sense we were all in it

There was no lock on the loft's front door, and it was considered bad
form to arrive before 11 p.m. There always seemed to be many pretty
young women present, and ample bourbon and marijuana. It was a spot
where Salvador Dali, Norman Mailer or Willem de Kooning might show up,
entourage in tow. "The locus of mad freedoms," Mr. Young once called the
scene that his rent bargain made possible.

"It was my great pride and privilege to have initiated and hosted the
spirit of that loft, to have lived within its joyous dark atmosphere and
shared the antic energies of my very talented friends for more than a
decade," he wrote.

Mr. Young made his remark in a book of essays accompanying two CD's
released last year by the Sunshine Group and Jazz Magnet Records. The
CD's consisted of hundreds of hours of impromptu sessions that he had
recorded at the loft.

Ms. Young, of Jacksonville, Fla., who is his only survivor, said that
the release of the CD's and the book, which included Mr. Young's
Abstract Expressionist paintings inspired by the jazz scene, had revived
his interest in art and life. National television featured reports on
his loft, as did scores of newspapers.

As a result, after many years of painting in solitude and ignoring
commercial matters, he began putting images of his paintings on the
Internet, most with $7,500 price tags. He sold them on his Web site,

He had always felt unappreciated, Ms. Young said, and was quick to
express his resentment about it.

"He saw himself as Picasso and expected everybody else to see that," she
said. "If they didn't, he didn't want anything to do with them."

David Benton Young was born in Boston on Feb. 15, 1930. Ms. Young said
he began using the middle initial X to give himself a sense of mystery.

His father, Nelson, was a trumpet player who occasionally played with
the jazz great Bix Beiderbecke. The elder Mr. Young suffered from
depression, and committed suicide days after his son was born, Ms. Young

Mr. Young was reared on Cape Cod by his grandparents, who he thought
were his parents. He believed that his free-spirited mother, Kate
Merrick, who wrote pulp novels, was his older sister. His ambition was
to play jazz, but his grandparents, thinking of his father, forbade it.

He attended the Massachusetts School of Art in Boston. In 1951, when he
was a sophomore, he exhibited his works at the Mortimer Levitt Gallery
in Manhattan. After graduating a year later, he threw his diploma in the
Charles River and headed for New York, where he became friends with
Franz Kline and de Kooning and other Abstract Expressionists who
congregated at the Cedar Bar in Greenwich Village. He needed a place to
live that would give him enough space to paint the giant canvases others
in the so-called New York School were doing.

While he was looking for a single- floor studio, the landlord at 821
Avenue of the Americas offered him the third, fourth and fifth floors
for a total of $120 a month.

"The place was desolate, really awful," he said in the article in Double
Take. "The buildings on both sides were vacant. There were mice, rats
and cockroaches all over. You had to keep cats around to fend them off.
Conditions were beyond miserable. No plumbing, no heat, no toilet, no
electricity, no nothing."

With $300 and some instruction from his grandfather, he made the place
livable. Because occupying an industrial building was illegal, he bribed
a building inspector with $75 each Christmas, he said, and kept big
plywood boxes over the beds to hide them.

He began making money by painting covers for jazz albums and also spent
more and more time in jazz clubs. "If he'd spent as much time with the
painters at the Cedar Bar as he did hanging around with us jazz guys, he
might have become recognized as one of the great painters," said Teddy
Charles, the vibraphonist.

Some of Mr. Young's friends were having trouble finding adequate
practice space, and he thought of his loft. "I checked around and found
a good piano for $50, delivered," he said. He had it hoisted up the
outside of the building, and was ready to go.

A couple of months later, the jazz composers Dick Cary and Hall Overton
each sublet a floor from Mr. Young. Mr. Cary took a grand piano to his
space, and Mr. Overton took two uprights. There were now four good
pianos in the building.

Mr. Overton and Mr. Monk, both chain smokers, met frequently in the loft
to prepare for elaborate concerts at Town Hall in 1959, Lincoln Center
in 1963 and Carnegie Hall in 1964. "They'd have the whole place filled
with smoke," Mr. Young said in Double Take. "They would sit at the two
pianos for hours, working on their charts, smoking the whole time."

Davis, Mingus and Mr. Charles used the loft to hone the sound heard on
the record "Blue Moods." Regular jam sessions were on Monday nights.

Mingus was in the loft on the night in 1955 when the Baroness Pannonica
de Koenigswarter called to tell him that Charlie Parker had just died in
her living room.

In 1957 Mr. Overton rented some of his space to the photographer W.
Eugene Smith, who shot 20,000 pictures of the sessions there. He and Mr.
Young had planned to write a book on the loft scene, but Smith died in

Mr. Young, who also made several documentaries and a science-fiction
film, was finally evicted from his illegal space in 1964. He moved to a
loft on Canal Street, where he survived by painting watercolors and
occasional album covers.

He had been thinking recently about moving to Europe. "He got what he
needed from New York," Ms. Young said.

In terms of the errors, they are:

1) He didn't die of a heart attack but of complications relating to
emphysema -- lung failure basically

2) This whole section" the release of the CD's and the book, which
included Mr. Young's Abstract Expressionist paintings inspired by the
jazz scene, had revived his interest in art and life" is wrong in two
ways -- he didn't consider himself an Abstract Expressionist and he had
ALWAYS had an interest in art and life, it was everyone else's interest
that was revived.

3) My quote: "He saw himself as Picasso..." was taken out of context and
doesn't sound like what I meant because it was followed by me saying
"But he was that good."

4) His father, Nelson Young played saxaphone, not trumpet, but did play
with Bix.

5) And the last error, but also the worst, was that they listed "Kate
Merrick" as David Young's mother when in fact his mother was "Christine
Young" and MY mother, David's former wife, is Kate Merrick.

Well I hope that clarifies to all what is happening here. Again, thanks
to all who have shared their love and support. This is another part of
life's journey and like all difficulties, it too shall pass.

Eliza Young

 Eliza Alys Young  |  President, Creative Director
 ***** W  O  L  F     I  M  A  G  I  N  G *****
 http://www.wolfimaging.com  |  904.396.9433 x 6805
[Make the world your territory, let the wolf be your guide.]