Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Page Wilson dead at 56

Virginia by Page Wilson from Joe Sokohl on Vimeo.

My friend, musician and radio host, Page Wilson has died. He was 56.

Click here to read his obituary in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Click here to read a piece about Wilson written by Harry Kollatz for Richmond Magazine in 2009. For a reaction from Kollatz to the news of Wilson's death click here.

Click here to see Mark Holmberg's Channel 6 story.

The video here was shot by me in 1999 in the old Texas-Wisconsin Border Café. Wilson was acting as one of the auctioneers to raise money from the artifacts on the then-closing restaurant's walls to fund a scholarship in the name of Jim Bradford. A good time was had.


My earliest memories of Page Wilson go back to when he was singing in the basement at Sam Miller's, sometime in the mid-70s.
In those days I managed the Biograph Theatre and occasionally promoted live music events.

At times, over the years, we worked together or had mutual interests. A born promoter, Page was always a good man to have on your side. He remembered his friends and he was a tireless supporter of Richmond's music scene.

Already I've heard from a couple of old pals who said they had asked Page to sing "Amazing Grace" when they cashed in their chips. Now I suppose they, and the rest of us, will be singing it at his sendoff.

My favorite Page Wilson moment: At the Biograph's 30th anniversary party at Poe's Pub (Feb. of 2002), Page performed, as did the Taters and Used Carlotta.

At first I was a little surprised when Page volunteered to lead off the show. But he knew exactly how he wanted to start the party. After eulogizing the long-dead theater (1972-87) for the ears of a crowd that had gathered to remember it fondly, without accompaniment, Page sang a slow version of "This Land is Your Land." His tender rendition of the Woody Guthrie classic was a far cry from most of his suitable-for-a-saloon material. Page made it sound like a sweet hymn at a memorial service.

In recent years it was difficult to watch as Page struggled with bad luck and bad health. He was a proud man and could be stubborn. As he had always been an independent's independent, Page had nothing to fall back on but a little help from his friends.

Now Page's tribulations are over. They will become a footnote to the larger story of his generous, self-styled way of doing everything. Don't bother waiting for the next booming-voiced Page Wilson. There won't be another one coming along any time soon. Page wasn't imitating anyone ... he was one of a kind.


  • Shortly after 6 p.m. on Wed., Mar. 16, a spontaneous gathering at Bellytimber took place. It's a relatively new bar in the same building that housed the Tex-Wisc Border Café ... in another millennium. Lots of familiar faces. Old faces. Good faces. We drank to Page. Stories were told. Then, naturally, we hoisted another one to Page.
  • Click here to read the bio material on Page Wilson and Reckless Abandon at Page's web site.
  • Click here to see Plan 9's Page Wilson Remembered page.
  • Click here to read and hear "WCVE Public Radio Mourns Passing of Page Wilson." Don't miss the comments section.
  • Now I'm told Page was born on Feb. 12, 1954, which would have made him 57 when he died.
  • Click here to read about a May 8th memorial show at the Canal Club, being put together by some of Page's friends. The talent lineup already includes: Janet Martin, Susan Greenbaum, the Taters, Terry Garland and His Small Band, the Reckless Abandon Boys, plus Lil Ronnie and the Grand Dukes.
  • Sat., Mar. 26, at Page's usual time-slot on WCVE (88.9 FM), 8 p.m., a tribute to him will air. Live music by some of Page's friends will be featured.
  • Click here to see/hear a Christian Children's Fund public service announcement (produced by Burford Advertising) that features Page singing "Amazing Grace."


Anonymous said...

I remember when he played around town in the 70's - he will be missed.

Martha said...


H. Sherwood Luck said...

Gone is a friendly radio voice on FM 88.9 Saturday nights when one often needs a friend besides the bottle in one's hand...

Steve P said...

Nicely put, Terry. I guess Page was just done with suffering. We'll all miss him.

Anonymous said...

I live out of state - had Page been ill?

Anonymous said...

He will be missed

B. Latané said...

My husband and I live on a farm in the Northern Neck of Virginia. After all day Saturday markets or long dark winter nights Out of the Blue Radio Review was many a Saturday night's highlight!
While feeling a great loss, we are grateful to be listening to the Page Wilson Tribute tonight on WCVE.
Thank you to all the performers showing up for tonight's show.

Anonymous said...

I first met Page over the airways of K95 with his sidekick Buck Toad. Over the years he introduced me Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen, K.D. Lang and others on the required listening list. A favorite memory was the hot summer night we saw Page play at an old bar on the Outer Banks, surrounded by good friends, salty air, cold beer and Page singing songs and telling stories long into the night.
Saturday nights will be a lonelier place without Page

lburg said...

For years after leaving Richmond, I really missed "Out o' the Blue Radio Revue" on Saturday nights. A few years ago I discovered I could listen to WCVE online, but the program was no longer on the schedule. Tonight I was listening to Page sing Virginia (a live recording from the Revue) and started searching the internet for him. Found him singing "Virginia" on YouTube searched for recordings on Amazon, and finally did just a general search which led me to this painful discovery. Most of the links are no longer active, so I grieve belatedly without the ability to hear or read much of what was available at the time. But I did finally find a copy of his Bridge of Love cd and bought that; too late to benefit him. I have missed hearing his show for years but he was always alive in my memory. I wish I knew more about him and his struggles.