Greg Tate, one of the most influential and insightful cultural critics of the past three decades, has passed away. He was 64.
Tate’s publisher Duke University Press confirmed the author’s death to ARTnews, however a cause of death is not yet known.
Tate was a Dayton, Ohio native who studied film at Howard University and moved to New York in the early 1980s. In 1985, he co-founded the Black Rock Coalition, along with Living Colour guitarist Vernon Reid, singer D.K. Dyson and producer Konda Mason. The collective asserted the Black authorship of rock & roll and sought equitable treatment for Black artists across genres.
In 1987, Tate joined the staff of The Village Voice and quickly established himself as a challenging and witty voice on everything from Hip Hop to rock to jazz and more. In a 2017 remembrance of his early days at the publication, Tate wrote, “Being a 25-year-old music freelancer for the Voice meant your number-one goal in life — free passes to any show at any venue in the city — was answered. But it also gave you street cred you didn’t even know you had among a wide swath of characters — club bouncers, burly Latino locksmiths from the Bronx who took your check and proclaimed themselves fans of your byline, label execs, musical icons, and rising rap stars.”
PHOTOS: Blues, Jazz and Rock Icons
Known for his insightful wisdom of rock, soul, hip-hop and many musical genres, he was also a sharp analyst and critic of musical art world.
“Those who dismiss Chuck D as a bullshit artist because he’s loud, pro-black, and proud will likely miss out on gifts for blues pathos and black comedy,” he wrote in 1988 piece about Public Enemy’s classic It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, according to Rolling Stone. “When he’s on, his rhymes can stun-gun your heart and militarize your funnybone.”
Tate wrote for the Voice until 2005. He also contributed to The New York Times, Rolling Stone and many other outlets and published several noteworthy books, including Midnight Lightning, and Flyboy in the Buttermilk.
Throughout his career, Tate stayed current and remained a passionate advocate and critic of music and art.
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