Rainer Ptacek

Rainer Ptacek

Infobox musical artist
Name = Rainer Ptacek

Img_capt =
Img_size =
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Background = solo_singer
Birth_name =
Alias =
Born = June 7, 1951
Died = November 12, 1997
Origin = flagicon|Czech Republic Czech-American
Instrument = Guitar
Genre = Rock
Occupation = Guitarist, Singer, Songwriter
Years_active = early 1970s-1997
Label =
Associated_acts = Giant Sand
URL = http://www.myspace.com/rainerptacekmusic
Notable_instruments =

Rainer Ptacek (June 7 1951November 12 1997) was a Tucson, Arizona-based guitarist, singer, and songwriter. His unique guitar technique, which incorporated slide, finger-picking, tape loops, and electronic manipulation, earned him admiration of some notable musicians such as Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin) and Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top). The tribute album to him, "The Inner Flame", included participations by Plant, Jimmy Page, PJ Harvey, and Emmylou Harris among others, and was indicative of his reputation as a "musician's musician". He was diagnosed with a brain tumor in early 1996, and died nearly two years later after the illness recurred.

Early life and career

Ptacek was born in East Berlin to a family of Czech/German descent. His family fled East Germany for the United States when he was 5. They eventually settled in Chicago, where young Ptacek was first exposed to blues music. He moved to Tucson in the early 1970s, where he began his own musical career, most often solo, but sometimes he plugged in and led a trio as Rainer & Das Combo. He co-founded Giant Sandworms with Howe Gelb in the late 70's. When the band decided to move to New York, he opted to stay in Tucson to make sure that he would not disrupt his then-new family. Although he never became well known in the United States, he became more and more recognized in Europe. Gibbons was so impressed with the singer-guitarist that he arranged to have Kurt Loder review Ptacek's "Mush Mind Blues" cassette in Rolling Stone. cite news
last = Schensul
first = Jill
coauthors =
title = Tucson no longer a musical dead end
work =
pages =
language =
publisher = The Arizona Daily Star
date = April 19, 1984
url = http://www.kxci.org/rainer/Tucson-no-longer.htm
accessdate = 2006-12-31
] Plant, similarly impressed, flew Ptacek to England for the sessions for B-sides to supplemement the singles from "Fate of Nations". cite web
last = Sheppard
first = Denise
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Flame Thrower
work =
publisher = EPulse
date = August 29, 1997
url = http://www.kxci.org/rainer/epulse.htm
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2006-12-31


He was diagnosed with a brain tumor and lymphoma in February 1996. He did not have medical insurance, and his bills were mounting. Gelb and Plant organized sessions for a charity album. The resulting record, "The Inner Flame: Rainer Ptacek Tribute", featured Ptacek-penned songs performed by Gelb (with Giant Sand), Plant, Page, Harris, Evan Dando, Victoria Williams, Vic Chesnutt, Kris McKay, PJ Harvey, The Drovers, Madeleine Peyroux, Jonathan Richman, and Bill Janovitz (Buffalo Tom). The cast of artists was impressive, confirming the respect he garnered from fellow artists.

Intense chemotherapy sessions put his tumor into remission, and Ptacek resumed his concert activity vigorously, beginning with a guest performance at Greg Brown's show in November 1996. By this time, media attention was more focused on him than ever before. Just when it seemed as though he had beaten his disease, it recurred in October 1997, and he died three weeks later. He was 46.


*"Avid Demo List". (circa 1979, cassette)
*"The Mush Mind Blues". (1983, with Das Combo, cassette)
*"Live Downtown". (1985, with Das Combo, cassette)
*"Barefoot Rock with Rainer and Das Combo". Released on LP in 1986, re-issued on CD in 1994.
*"Worried Spirits". (1992)
*"The Texas Tapes". (1993, with Das Combo)
*"D.Y.O. Boot" (1995)
*"Nocturnes". (1995)
*"Rainulator". (1996, cassette)
*"The Inner Flame: Rainer Ptacek Tribute". The tribute/benefit album mentioned above, released in 1997. Ptacek is a participant on most of the tracks.
*"Alpaca Lips". (released 2000)
*"Live at the Performance Center". (released 2001)
*"The Farm". (released 2002)
*"17 Miracles". (2005, collection)
*"The Rainer Collection". (2006, collection)
*"The Westwood Sessions, Volume I". (with Das Combo, released November 2007)


External links

* [http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:88jleat04xs7~T0 Ptacek's page] in Allmusic
*KXCI's Rainer Tribute Page: http://www.kxci.org/rainer/
*The Weekly Wire's compilation of articles about Ptacek: http://weeklywire.com/ww/xtra/rainer/index.html
* [http://www.myspace.com/rainerptacekmusic A page dedicated to Ptacek] in MySpace, maintained by his widow Patti Keating
*http://www.sa-wa-ro.com/Rainer-Pages/rainer-albums.htm Complete discography

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