West Orange, NJ (June 9, 2022)—A GoFundMe campaign has been set up for bass player, producer and record label owner Bill Laswell, who has reportedly been sidelined by the coronavirus pandemic due to “a whole host of preexisting health conditions.”
According to a notification from GoFundMe, the campaign was established by Orange Music Collective. The group’s GoFundMe page states, “Bill’s musical output has been seriously curtailed by COVID, which is basically a death sentence should he be infected. With the risk too great, he has not been able to keep up his usual pace, working alongside other musicians and engineers in his [New] Jersey studio.”
The fundraising campaign notes that, because Laswell has had to cancel European festival appearances — reportedly a major source of his income — he is struggling to hold on to the lease for his studio, Orange Music, where he has been based for the past 20 years. “To add insult to injury, he is now desperately searching for a place to live after getting evicted from his current Manhattan home,” the collective also states.
Laswell, the founder, in 1978, of New York-based band Material, has long flown under the radar. He has collaborated with artists across all genres, but has tended to gravitate toward the avant-garde, fusion and music of other cultures, including Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
The original Material lineup also featured Michael Beinhorn, who went on to produce the likes of Soul Asylum, Soundgarden, Hole, Marilyn Manson and Korn, and Fred Maher, who was a surround and immersive audio specialist at DTS for over 17 years before parting ways with the company in 2021. Vocalists on the band’s early albums included Whitney Houston, Bernard Fowler (later of Was Not Was, Tackhead and The Rolling Stones) and Nona Hendryx.
Laswell also used the name Material as a catch-all for his early productions, often collaborating with his bandmates. Projects included albums by Herbie Hancock (he produced, with Beinhorn, the 1983 Grammy-winning hip-hop crossover hit “Rockit” and the album from which it came, Future Shock), Public Image Ltd, Sly and Robbie, Mick Jagger, Iggy Pop, Yoko Ono and a host of others. Laswell apparently last performed under the Material name at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in 2004.
Laswell is co-credited as a writer on “America is Waiting,” from David Byrne and Brian Eno’s seminal 1981 album, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. He also produced Time Zone’s “World Destruction” single, which paired hip-hop legend Africa Bambaataa with Sex Pistols/PIL vocalist John Lydon, in 1984.