Tim Haslett Found Dead

Incredibly sad news out of Michigan today. Tim Haslett, a fixture in the Boston music scene for years, was found dead in his MSU apartment late last week. I had the pleasure of knowing Tim a bit, and always greatly enjoyed talking to him, even if he completely lost all concept of time when letting loose on a topic that interested him, and wound up eating your entire afternoon.

I met Tim at a failed startup called iCAST.com, an “entertainment portal”, where he was enlisted to drive coverage of rap and dance music. He had been working for Spin (I think), his knowledge of music was encyclopedic, and his way of speaking was both weird, witty, deadpan, and always surprising. He could be absolutely hilarious.

Naturally, due to the fact that this company had no point, and was spending millions to prove it, we both found ourselves out of a job in short order. I wound up at another startup, and Tim took a job as a buyer for the great, short-lived Other Music franchise in Harvard Square. This allowed him to talk music pretty much 10 hours a day, to the benefit of the music-buying public that was really into obscure stuff, or at least curious.

I should add that he was a huge music fan without being a music snob in the slightest. So if you had no idea who, say, Peter Brotzmann was, Tim would be excited to turn you on, not mortified at your bottomless musical ignorance (as is usually the case with the NYC Other Music).

Other Music went out of business after 9/11, and Tim started turning up at Twisted Village, another wonderful music shop in Harvard. My most vivid memory of him was when I walked in one Saturday and struck up a conversation. By that point we were friendly enough that many of our conversations quickly devolved into abject absurdity and lies for our own amusement (if you can think of a better way to kill a Saturday…).

When I walked in this time, Tim grabbed me and said, “Hey, Joe, great. I wanted to talk to you about something. Listen, so I came into this shipment of fire damaged waterbeds and I’m having a really hard time unloading them…”

This speech went on for about five minutes, and was executed so earnestly that after a while I began to wonder whether this maniac really had bought a load of charred waterbeds.

I hadn’t seen him in ages, until about a month ago in New York. I was raiding the Other Music in Manhattan when I turned and saw him standing there, talking to four people at once. We caught up a bit, said we’d stay in touch, but, as these things often go, never did.

Though he had left Boston a while ago, this really is a heartbreaker. He was a unique and wonderful guy, and he’ll be badly missed.

More: David Day at the Dig posts his thoughts.