We are sorry to report that industry vet Graham Armstrong passed this morning. He had been suffering from several illnesses for quite some time. He died of complications from Pneumonia. We will keep you posted on arrangements. We urge industry readers to call a former industry person and just say hello today.
Former Urban Network staffer Scott Galloway has these kind words to say about Graham (below)
The time has come – on this fittingly lovely summery L.A. day – for me to say goodbye to a very special and unique friend, GRAHAM ARMSTRONG, who passed away this morning. Many of you reading this knew him in your way. What follows is My Way.
Graham was a man of many passions and anything he turned his attention to he delved into with a zeal and relish that would always eventually make him an expert. He was exceedingly nostalgic in a way I always found profoundly bittersweet because it always felt like he was reaching back to a simpler, happier time of his life: spinning 45s at his family’s Armstrong Coke Bar – set back just so off a dirt road somewhere deep in The South. He ALWAYS struck me as this super great guy that deserved to be a whole lot happier than I ever knew him to be in the present…
Graham Armstrong was a staunch advocate for the history of African American people and was very proud of the library of literature he amassed, piece by piece – from thrift stores to E-Bay – on our legendary greats – particularly in music. His favorite artists were Sam Cooke, Bob Marley, Jackie Wilson, Teddy Pendergrass, Al Green and the Tall, Tan and Temptin’ Temptations. It does not surprise me one bit that Graham ascended this earth in the same time frame that we lost two members of that sparkling superstar quintet. In his heart he was one of them.
Graham and I talked about such things for HOURS on end…after hours at the office when we worked together at Urban Network and in deep into the night conversations on the telephone…the kind where you say I’m gonna get off after I make this one last point but then another hour goes by. He had The Best stories of his many encounters with celebrities, particularly the beautiful women he and I both adored but HE got to get close to – from Vanity to Phyllis Hyman. And because he’d worked as a high profile radio Program Director in major market cities, he shared so much about the many people he encountered in that capacity as well as other magazines and a short but colorful stint with Prince’s Paisley Park Records.
He paid my writing a wonderful compliment – the kind that is about as good as it gets – saying that he was reading my Curtis Mayfield “Superfly” liner note essay and with each paragraph saying, “whoever wrote this is a muthafucka”…only to (…to read more click “next” above or below)get to the end of the piece and find out it was me – that quiet cat who sat just outside his office in the only cubicle with a window. He could not get over it – and I will never forget the way he delivered that moment to me.
Graham gave me a beautiful gift for which I will forever be indebted. When I got the chance to make my dream journey to Rio de Janiero, Brazil, he helped me to make the experience right by arranging for me to stay in the same condo complex that he stayed in instead of a hotel. Pitching my tent in a spot all my own with flowers, my music on my first brand new iPod, and a view from the guest room (where I chose to sleep instead of the master suite) that allowed me to marvel at the wonder of the Christo Redentor first thing in the morning and the last thing before bed – made the trip like a home away from home. I had the most beautiful time there and he was the perfect Big Brother, guiding me just enough to navigate my way then releasing me to create my own adventure and memories…deeply, deeply priceless life stuff…”Unforgettable” like a Nat Cole classic.
The last time I saw Graham he was sleeping peacefully as I snuck a TV into the care unit where we all prayed he was getting better. A mutual friend and I agreed it was better to let him sleep as he’d been through a battery of tests that day and the day before. I left him a note with every intention to return…but I never did. The time before had been very awkward for me…struggling to communicate with him…putting my ear to his lips desperately trying to understand utterances that were more breath than consonance…begging off his requests for meals the hospital would never let me bring him nor that he could even digest. There is nothing worse than the helpless feeling of wanting to help when there’s nothing you can do.
I came back another day with a dear friend and played some of his favorite music from my computer…but words simply did not come easy. So when I could bring that TV that was requested to his next destination, I felt like, “finally a contribution I can make to this man’s comfort”…because all of us who had actually seen him KNEW it was only a matter of time. I am so thankful that other friends and family with strengths in this area were there for him, letting him know he was loved and just being there for him as he battled mightily “to hang on to the world as it spins around…”
I am really going to miss Graham…but I had an awfully good time with him while he was here…no regrets. Every person who passes through our life leaves us with something that nobody else gave or could give but them. I can tell you I am 100% relieved and faithful he is free from debilitation, pain and slow suffering. In my mind in the knowing that Graham is now back at the “Armstrong Coke Bar Beyond” – making improvements, touching souls, spinnin’ as many tales as he is records, and flanked by some amazingly beautiful women that love him for him, and recognize in him The King he was – on Earth as he Is in Heaven.