Chuck E. Weiss, blues musician, membership proprietor and outsize Los Angeles character who was immortalized in Rickie Lee Jones’s breakout hit track, “Chuck E.’s in Love,” died on July 20 at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. He was 76.
His brother, Byron, stated the trigger was kidney failure.
Mr. Weiss was a voracious musicologist, an encyclopedia of obscure jazz and early R&B artists, a drummer, a songwriter and a broadly acknowledged rascal who within the mid-Seventies landed in Los Angeles from his native Denver together with his pal the singer-songwriter Tom Waits.
On the Troubadour, the venerable West Hollywood people membership, the place Mr. Weiss labored for a time as a dishwasher, they met one other younger singer-songwriter, a former runaway named Rickie Lee Jones. Mr. Waits and Ms. Jones grew to become an merchandise, and the three of them grew to become inseparable as they caroused by Hollywood, stealing garden ornaments and pranking individuals at music trade events (like shaking fingers with dip smeared on their palms).
“It appears typically like we’re actual romantic dreamers who received caught within the improper time zone,” Ms. Jones instructed Rolling Stone journal in 1979, describing Mr. Weiss and Mr. Waits as her household on the time.
They lived on the Tropicana Motel, a seedy Nineteen Forties-era bohemia on Santa Monica Boulevard. “It was an everyday DMZ,” Mr. Weiss instructed LA Weekly in 1981, “besides everybody had a tan and regarded good.”
Within the fall of 1977, on a visit dwelling to Denver, Mr. Weiss known as his buddies again in Los Angeles, and when Mr. Waits put down the telephone, he introduced to Ms. Jones, “Chuck E.’s in love!”
Two years later, Ms. Jones’s fanciful riff on that declaration — “What’s her title?/Is that her there?/Oh, Christ, I believe he’s even combed his hair” — had made her a star. (Although the final line of the track suggests in any other case, it was not Ms. Jones whom Mr. Weiss had fallen for; it was a distant cousin of his.)
The track was a success single, the opening monitor of Ms. Jones’s debut album, “Rickie Lee Jones,” and a 1980 Grammy Award nominee for track of the yr. (“What a Idiot Believes,” carried out by the Doobie Brothers, took the honour.)
In an essay in The Los Angeles Instances on July 21, Ms. Jones recalled that when she first met Mr. Waits and Mr. Weiss, she couldn’t inform them aside. “They have been two of essentially the most charismatic characters Hollywood had seen in a long time,” she wrote, “and with out them I believe all the road of Santa Monica Boulevard would have collapsed.”
In a telephone interview later, she stated of Mr. Weiss: “There was mischief in him, he was our trickster. He was an exhilarating man, and a catastrophe for a time, as thrilling individuals usually are.”
Charles Edward Weiss was born in Denver on March 18, 1945. His father, Leo, was within the salvage enterprise; his mom, Jeannette (Rollnick) Weiss, owned a hat retailer, Hollywood Millinery. Chuck graduated from East Excessive Faculty and attended Mesa Junior School, now Colorado Mesa, in Grand Junction.
His brother, Byron, is his solely speedy survivor.
In his early 20s, Mr. Weiss met Chuck Morris, now a music promoter, when Mr. Morris was a co-owner of Tulagi, a music membership in Boulder, Colo. When blues performers like Lightnin’ Hopkins and John Lee Hooker got here by, they usually traveled alone, and it was as much as Mr. Morris to search out them an area band. He would ask Mr. Weiss to fill in as drummer.
In 1973 Mr. Morris opened a Denver nightclub known as Ebbets Area (he was born in Brooklyn), which drew performers like Willie Nelson, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Mr. Waits. Mr. Weiss stuffed in there too.
On the time, as Mr. Weiss recalled in 2014, he was making an attempt to document his personal music and within the behavior of asking performers to play with him. That’s how he met Mr. Waits. “And I believe what occurred was I noticed Waits do some finger-poppin’ stuff at Ebbets Fields one night time,” he stated, “and I went as much as him after the present. I used to be carrying some platform sneakers and a chinchilla coat, and I used to be slipping on the ice on the road outdoors as a result of I used to be so excessive, and requested if he needed to do some recording with me. He checked out me like I used to be from outer house, man.”
Nonetheless, he stated, they grew to become quick pals.
Mr. Waits, interviewed by The Philadelphia Inquirer in 1999, described Mr. Weiss as “a mensch, a liar, a monkey and a pathological vaudevillian.”
Mr. Waits and Mr. Weiss ended up collaborating on quite a few issues, in a single occasion co-writing the lyrics to “Spare Components (A Nocturnal Emission),” a barroom dirge on Mr. Waits’s album “Nighthawks on the Diner,” launched in 1975. Mr. Waits produced two albums for Mr. Weiss; the primary, “Extraordinarily Cool,” in 1999, was described in a single evaluate as “a goofy, eclectic mixture of loosely-played blues and boogie-woogie.”
Although his songwriting was singular — “Anthem for Misplaced Souls” was instructed from the viewpoint of a neighbor’s cat — Mr. Weiss was greatest identified for his stay performances. Gravel-voiced, shaggy-haired and lengthy on patter, he was a bluesman with a borscht belt humorousness.
For a lot of the Nineteen Eighties Mr. Weiss performed at a Los Angeles membership known as the Central, accompanied by his band, The Goddamn Liars. He later inspired his actor pal Johnny Depp to purchase the place with him and others. They turned it into the Viper Room, the celebrity-flecked ’90s-era nightclub.
Mr. Weiss was usually requested how he felt about his star flip in Ms. Jones’s hit. “Yeah, I used to be flabbergasted,” he instructed The Related Press in 2007. “Little did we all know that, all in all, we might each be identified for that for the remainder of our lives.”
However the remainder of their lives would now not be intertwined.
Ms. Jones wrote of Mr. Weiss in her Los Angeles Instances essay: “When ‘Chuck E.’s in Love’ handed from the heavens and light into the ‘I hate that track’ desert, from which it nonetheless has not likely recovered, he and I grew to become estranged, and everybody fell away from everybody. Waits left, the transient Camelot of our road nook jive ended. I had made fiction of us, made heroes of very unheroic individuals. However I’m glad I did.”
Later, on the telephone, she stated, “Two of the three of us grew to become very profitable musicians, however not Chuck, and he knew lots of people.” She added: “We predict being the well-known one is successful, however I’m unsure. Chuck did all proper.”