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Jay Robert (Bob, Jay) West

1942 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
Jay Robert (Bob, Jay) West Obituary
Jay Robert (Bob, Jay) West

Longtime traditional jazz and blues musician, radio show host, and record producer died on July 31 of cancer. He was 74. Respected by musicians and collectors the world over for his field recordings and interviews and as Seattle's premier archivist of country blues music. Bob was equally as respected for his kindness and generosity.

Born in Seattle March 27, 1942 to Francis "Frank" and Taimi West the family moved to Chula Vista, CA when his father's work at Boeing took him to California. Returning to Seattle after high school, Bob became involved in radio in 1967 when Lorenzo Milam asked him to host a blues show on KRAB radio. A year later, Bob made his first field trip to Memphis to record Furry Lewis and Booker (Bukka) White.

Bob interviewed many musicians as they passed through Seattle. Typically, he would cook up a week's supply of meals, stock the refrigerator, and vacate the houseboat so the musician would have a quiet place to stay during his engagement.

Bob worked at Boeing until the bottom fell out of the aircraft industry in the 1970s later taking work with Memco Manufacturing to support his interests. With time on his hands, he increased his volunteer work for KRAB until he was hired as a program director, using his vacations for trips to Louisiana in 1977, and St. Louis and Memphis in 1979. The best recordings from all his field trips were released on Arcola, the CD label he started in the 1990s.

Bob lived on Wandesforde dock at Fairview Avenue for 47 years. Neighbors were accustomed to his late-night record-listening and jam sessions. Bob's uncle, Tony West, was a race-car driver in the 1930s, and Bob was passionate about racing. Invariably, when he was not monitoring an educational show or a movie, or recording programs and music for his friends, his TV would be tuned to a car race.

Bob was dedicated to preserving the music and culture of self-taught, agrarian-based musicians. He hoped their music might lead future musicians to learn their art in natural settings which would inspire more freedom and creativity than the formulaic pathway offered by today's popular culture and hide-bound systems of formal education. "I'm not a marketeer, and I am not concerned with business at all. I'd be tickled to death if I can communicate this material to 10 kids, and they carry it to the next generation."

A lifelong humanitarian, West numbered the ACLU, Habitat for Humanity, Greenpeace, Public Citizen, KCTS Television and the United Negro College Fund among the many organizations he supported.

Bob is survived by his sister Susan, of Seattle; cousins Gary West and his wife Donna of Seattle, and Matthew and Michael West of Redmond; and friend Rose Hedley, residing in Wales. A celebration of his life is set for Thursday, November 10 at the Royal Room, 5000 Rainier Ave. So., from 3 to 6 p.m.

Please sign Bob's online Guestbook at www.Legacy.com.
Published in The Seattle Times on Oct. 30, 2016
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