Charlie Nothing, The Ding of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Passes Away

On October 23, Charlie Nothing, born Charles Martin Simon, passed away at his Soquel, CA home due to an unspecified cancer. He was 66.

Charles Nothing had two public personas: Charlie The Artist and Charles Martin Simon The Writer. The former features Charlie as a psychedelic saxophonist, perhaps most well known in music circles for his recordings on John Fahey's Takoma label and in the visual art world for his Dingulators™ -- guitar sculptures made from American cars. Meanwhile, Charles Martin Simon The Writer features Charlie as an author of many fiction and non-fiction books. His non-fiction books ranged from topics like health and nutrition to accounts from the psychedelic ‘60s, while his fictional books were all over the map, with one about The Savior who returns in the form of worms to compost the earth. Charlie, however, considered himself a philosopher/clown.

The news of his death is made even sadder, because Charlie Nothing was all set to release an anthology titled 40 Years of the Ding: A Charlie Nothing Anthology on Destijl Records around January 2008. According to Clint Simonson of Destijl, "[Charlie Nothing] was invigorated with the realization that there were new sets of young ears, eagerly interested in what he'd been creating for the past 40+ [years]. It's a sad and cruel twist that [the anthology] will be released in posterus; he so excitedly anticipated its arrival."

40 Years of the Ding: A Charlie Nothing Anthology is mainly comprised of the recordings released on John Fahey's Takoma label, but also features a privately-pressed LP, a few singles, and select tracks from countless privately-released cassettes (including tracks recorded in the Venice County Jail).

Per Henry David Thoreau's advice, Charles Martin Simon had no hobbies. And according to his website: Charlie Nothing "was not born. Did not die. Does not, did not, will not exist. Charlie Nothing is the Artist." A philosopher and a clown indeed.

[Photo: Seth Tisue]