Martin Jack Rosenblum R.I.P.

Jan. 12, 2014
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martin jack rosenblum
Martin Jack Rosenblum died after falling asleep on the night of Jan. 10. He was a musician and recording artist, poet, founder of the rock 'n' roll program at UWM's Peck School of the Arts, onetime Harley-Davidson archivist, a popular lecturer and regular Shepherd Express collaborator.

Marty had many interests but only a few loves. Among the latter were rock'n'roll (and its roots), the mystique of the Old West (and its 20th century manifestation in western movies and biker culture) and his family. His wife Maureen and daughters Molly and Sarah survive him.

The folk-blues revival of the 1960s, the Inside Llewyn Davis scene that eventually brought the Americana sources of rock together with Modernist poetry in the form of Bob Dylan, gave Marty a forum for creativity in the 1960s while he earned his doctorate for a dissertation in modern American poetry. He was a poetic songwriter and a published poet who drew sharp distinctions between poetry and most song lyrics. Marty reached a peak of attention by the early '90s as a recording artist for a national label and as the author of an acclaimed book of biker-inspired poetry, The Holy Ranger. I am honored to have co-authored a book with Marty, Searching for Rock and Roll, which has gone through four editions.

The diversity of his achievements made Marty someone I looked up to well before we got to know each other, and I recall my pleasure circa 1990 in receiving a letter from him, commenting favorably on a pair of articles I'd recently written for the Milwaukee Journal. In recent years I enjoyed our early morning phone conversations, which ranged widely over any imaginable topic. We occasionally disagreed—over Leonard Cohen (whom he did not admire) or the fine points of Jewish resistance to the Holocaust. Usually our thoughts were in harmony.

Marty's death is a great loss to all who knew him, to his collaborators in music and literature, to Milwaukee and a culture that needs more of his unpretentious yet rigorous insistence on high standards, whether in the music we consume or the way we think about the world.


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