RIP: Buck Malen, 1950-2016
We are deeply saddened to report that Buck Malen passed away on Sunday (November 13). He was 66 years old.
A longtime member of the Greater Nippertown music scene and always the coolest cat in the room, Malen first made his mark as the bassist with the early-’80s rock band French Letter, joining vocalist Ralph Box, drummer Gene Sennes and guitarist David Schachne.
As French Letter guitarist David Schachne wrote on his Facebook page on Sunday:
Sad news today in hearing of the passing of Buck Malen, my friend and musical partner in the early ’80s all-original Albany band French Letter. Buck was the genius behind FL; his alt-pop-rock tunes were unique slices ranging from nostalgic to cutting edge – from the ’40s swing of “The Three of Us”, to ’50s twang of “Rumble Road” and “Three Alarm Party,” the early ’60s sounds of “Let’s Be in Love for Tonight” and “Girl On My Block, to the ’70s power chords & heart-swells of “You’re Mine” and “Try My Patience,” to the up-to-the minute ’80s edginess of “Mayhem in the AM” and naughtiness of “Bound And Determined,” et. al. Rehearsing and doing shows with FL was a blast. Buck’s gigs were always a feast for the ears AND eyes. Buck always went out of his way to make each show an event – from creating the initial retro fliers & posters to redecorating venues’ interiors with wild streamers, artwork, neon, balloons, flowers, remote televisions, stage decor, clothing, hair, photos – Buck did it ALL and Albany loved every minute. Always with a smile, a joke, and a smoke; always showing me a new song, a new artist, a classic old album; a new find, wild vintage guitar, furniture or clothing; always up, and on the go. God Bless You Kind Sir! May the House Band in Heaven be as blessed as we were to have you leading our ranks. Good night Buck, dear friend, we will miss you more than you know.
The band was featured on the 1983 compilation album Live at 288, and even had a sandwich named after them – the lobster salad sandwich, no less – on the menu at 288 Lark.
After the demise of French Letter, Malen went on to play in a wide variety of other bands over the years, including Johnny Rabb & the Rockin’ Dakotas, the Teardrops, the Jivebombers, Bigkombo, the Staynz, Susan & the Surftones, the Buckadelics, Dragonfly Taylor and more.
Up until a month ago when he handed over the reins to Scotty Mac, Malen was also at the helm of the weekly Blue Monday Blues Jams at Pauly’s Hotel in Albany. You can bet that tonight’s jam (Monday, November 14) will be brimming over with remembrances of Buck…
A memorial service will be held at a future date. If you have photos, videos, etc. that you’d like included in the service, you can email them to Mikael: [email protected]