\\\"Billy Bang was a brilliant human being, always much more than himself, especially when he surrendered to his true calling-that of musician, one who transforms music into magic, dancing instead of walking, jumping instead standing still. Billy Bang was an American original, an original musician, an organic person who had tapped into the river of sound and was riding on a boat drenched in blues-soul-funk and space.
Billy is gone and unfortunately for the world there will never ever be another person like him. His life was not filled with joy, but he brought joy to life. Everyone who heard him play his violin throughout the world was moved and uplifted. When Billy played, he gave his all every time, always taking the music to the next dimension where beauty and truth and peace reside.
Billy was like a little big brother who was brave when he needed to be brave, bold and daring when he needed to be. Billy was a great basketball player; he had moves on the basketball court way before Magic Johnson. He also was very scholarly and meticulous about anything he approached in life, vulnerably open and honest.
I remember in the early \\\'70s I was living in the Claremont housing projects in the Bronx. Billy would come by and we would play and rehearse while my mother fixed dinner. We would eat and continue until late in the night, trying to figure out what music was. I felt proud walking though Claremont with a kindred spirit named Billy Bang.
When his son Ghazal was born I went to the hospital to visit the newborn baby and both father and son had halos around their heads; it was amazing. Later when Ghazal was a small boy, he threw some of his toys out the window of the projects on Avenue D where Billy was living at the time. Billy responded by writing a play with music based off of the event for Ghazel\\\'s preschool class, composing some music and writing a script about the event. It was called \\\"Popcorn\\\'s Adventure.\\\" So we went into his daycare classroom and performed this play and played the music. The skit had the kids laughing so hard their stomachs began to hurt. The humor and love that Billy Bang showed that day was tremendous. The teacher gave us juice and crackers and life was perfect.
Even though as was I was born and raised in the Bronx, I was a very serious and stiff guy. I needed some one to bring out my sense of humor. That person was Billy Bang. Billy showed me how to laugh and through that laughter to see life as the most serious thing there could be.
When the music came around it grabbed him and he was majestic, gentle, lyrical, and there was this eternal groove that never stopped. Even the most abstract sound he made was draped in the blues, pathos, and uplift. Billy Bang was filled with a fire, healing us as he healed himself. He played some music and lived to the fullest and fought to stay alive with undaunted optimism.
I am just happy I met and got to know him and play with him. I thank God for giving him to us for how ever long. He changed my life.This duet concert we did at the Rubin was one of the last concerts we played together. I think it was a beautiful experience for all. - William Parker