In memory of Larry Blackshere, vibraphonist for It's A Beautiful Day

Latest update on Larry Blackshere

San Francisco Chronicle article

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Article Last Updated: Friday, April 26, 2002 - 3:00:07 AM MST

Family, friends remember slain East Bay musician Blackshere By Staff Writer

OAKLAND -- Larry Blackshere's friends and family celebrated his life the only way they knew how -- through music.

Blackshere, a 53-year-old musician, was found dead inside his San Leandro home April 13, slain by an intruder, according to police. While the hunt for a killer continues, about 70 of Blackshere's friends crowded into a small chapel on Friday to remember the life of a man they described as nothing short of incredible.

"All of us who knew him, we all realized how special he was," said Michael James, a friend of Blackshere's for more than 20 years. "He was the best friend you could ever hope for."

Blackshere, a musician since age 7, was a well-known percussionist in the music community. He rocked with the Grateful Dead, played for the Oakland Symphony, and toured the East Coast with a Broadway production of "Cats."

"We'd learn songs together all the time, always teaching each other," said James, also a musician. "I learned so much just being around him."

In honor of his friend, James gave about a 20-minute eulogy, at times crying, at other times laughing through some of the stories. James concluded it by playing "My Way" on the saxophone.

The song was a fitting tribute to a man who was often characterized as a unique personality, perhaps even a bit eccentric, said friend Jack Lodico.

Blackshere was well-known among his friends for writing poems about pencils, practicing tai chi and staying up until the wee hours just to perfect songs.

"He had this incredible knowledge about everything, on every topic out there," Lodico said. "I used to call him 'Lord Larry Blackshere' because that was the kind of guy he was."

Blackshere graduated from Stanford with a doctoral degree in music. He also graduated from Skyline High School in Oakland and from Cal State Hayward.

His memorial service, held at Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland, included about four hours of music. Instead of a moment of silence, the mourners gave Blackshere a standing ovation midway through the service, clapping their hands in a final tribute to the musician. "It's exactly what he would have wanted," James said. "He would have loved this."

San Leandro police are still looking for Blackshere's killer and are circulating a photograph of a shirt they think may have belonged to his attacker. Anyone with information about the shirt or the investigation is asked to call (510) 577-3201.

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