Every once in a while you open an email and get slapped in the face with someone's passing. I'm sure many others got hit with the same one I did on Monday morning when I opened the RAMP email to read of the passing of Lewis Largent. I can't remember the last time I spoke with him, but I do recall how influential he was for a long period of time. I was in college radio at WBNY in Buffalo when he was the music director at KROQ. I met him a few times in those days at various industry events. There was no air of pretension around him as there were some of the other Alternative types at that point in time. He always gave me the time of day for a meaningful conversation. He moved to NYC and MTV around the same time I moved to the Big Apple and commuted out to WDRE's Long Island studio. We'd run into each other at shows or record company dinners and talk about music as we could at those type of events. My favorite story about Lewis involves a record label promo rep who I got on the phone just after the person got off a call with Lewis. "Numbingly average!" said the pissed off rep.
"He told me my song was numbingly average!" I laughed my ass off. That was the funniest feedback I had heard in ages. It was even funnier when I used it on the same rep months later. I never told Lewis this story. It never seemed appropriate at the times I would see him and I never hung out with him outside of the music side of our lives. At a time when the music industry got hit with a wake-up call by Gen X and the Alternative scene, Lewis Largent defined influence. He's one of the people I regularly cite recently during conversations I have been having for the I.A. Influencers List issue. It just seemed to me that he always aspired to be more. You have to respect that type of drive.
By Michael Parrish