Some sad news today: Tony Dale, properietor of Camera Obscura and a good friend, passed away today after a two-year battle w/ cancer. I first met him 10 years ago when, as a fan of his label, I was thinking of starting up my own and wanted to get his advice. His label appeared to be shrouded in mystery. It was releasing an eclectic brew of artists - mainly from overseas - all under the broad umbrella of "psychedelia"; it was one which was receiving glowing praise in overseas fanzines and radio shows, yet had zero profile locally. I was intrigued and impressed: it was an imprint which had its own agenda. His website even listed his home phone number and address, and seeing that he lived in the same suburb as I did at the time (Richmond), I gave him a call and asked if I could meet up for a chat. He willingly obliged, and we agreed to catch up that week one evening at the Great Britain Hotel for a chat and a drink. I was working shifts at Borders(!) at the time, so my hours were all over the place, but he was happy to meet me at about 9 o' clock on a week night and he dolled out all kinds of advice about pressing, promotion, distribution and the like. In hindsight, it was crucial advice which got me off my ass and kickstarted the decade-long money-losing operation now known as the Lexicon Devil label. We kept in touch, hung out and played records, drank beer and blew each other's minds w/ our musical discoveries and for a couple of years I even found myself responsible for distributing his label Down Under. The label never achieved much of a profile in Australia, maybe because Australia is a nation of philistines, or perhaps just because Tony never cared too much about the Australian market. But for the first half of the previous decade, he was there throughout a pretty defining era of my life: going to shows, having dinner parties w/ fellow music geeks and the kinds of things which make this life worthwhile. I'm cracking up at the memories of Tony bringing over an $800 psych rarity to a friend's dinner party, only to have my friend's cat pounce on his treasured album's sleeve as he lay it next to the stereo, or the memory of attending the unforgettable Love show seven years ago, when Tony stayed sober and upright to enjoy the evening's events whilst myself and my comrades almost made the show a complete write-off by being too inebriated to even comprehend what we were witnessing; Tony tutt-tutting our behaviour a few days later like a responsible, fatherly figure. He moved to the country about 5 years ago and continued the label, though I only saw him again a handful of times. When he became sick, his trips to the city were much less frequent, and my only regret is that we didn't keep the kind of constant contact throughout this period that we had earlier on. The music biz is littered w/ the kinds of jerk-offs you'd probably never really want to know on a personal level, and to state the obvious, Tony Dale was not one of them. He was a fan first and foremost, and ran his label to spread the gospel. He had far more business acumen than I do, and hence he ran a successful and influential one which managed to clock up over 80 releases. Most of all, he was one of the good guys and he'll be missed. I try to keep personal business out of this blog, but the world needs to know that they just lost one of the good guys. And that's all that needs to be said.