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Friday, June 22, 2007


The Legend of the North Country

I may be the last person to have heard the news... but apparently Billy Chinnock has died.

Chinnock was part of the soundtrack to my college years. He was one of the originals of the 70's Asbury Park scene, and then in late part of that decade he moved to Maine, and he became a huge cult figure in northern New England. He'd sell out the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland. His songs were in heavy rotation on 102.9, (107.5 back then) WBLM - "The Rock and Roll Blimp". I had most of his albums, though the famous bootleg from the 1978 Bates College show with Southside Johnny I was never able to track down. He married the daughter of Maine music legend Dick "Tombstone Every Mile" Curless.

Mike Raymond tells a story about the time he was moving furniture in a Maine apartment building and, going up in the elevator, was singing a Chinnock tune. He sang the line "The mill closed down today.." and the elevator doors opened and the two businessmen standing there looked at him and, together sang, "three thousand men were turned away..", the next line in the song.

In grad school, I made a music video to the title track off his album "Dime Store Heroes". It's on a half-inch tape somewhere in the cellar. I will try to find it and post it here.

Chinnock took his own life after years of untreated Lyme Disease. The virus got into his brain and made him an invalid. I guess he just couldn't deal with being so sick anymore.

Bill Chinnock was 59 years old.

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