I AM THE BEARER OF BAD TIDINGS: My friend and co-author John Walker Ross passed away on February 9, 2021, and this is an obituary of sorts and a tribute. I stumbled over John’s blog The Round Place In The Middle several years ago and spent the day reading his articles. I sent John an email telling him he was now My Favorite Author Writing About Rock Music of the ’60s!
We immediately became penpals and eventually became friends. Nondisposable Johnny—the nickname he used in the comments section of his posts—and I co-authored a lengthy piece about the importance of In The Ghetto in Elvis Presley’s career, which was published on my blog, Elvis – A Touch Of Gold.
This led to an alliance with John and Lew Shiner that led to Tell It Like It Was, a publication devoted to our favorite records on the popular Medium platform, and then Elvis – That’s The Way It Was, another Medium publication but this one devoted to Elvis Presley.
John was also a regular contributor to the Sixties Music Secrets blog.
Aside from arguing the greatness of the Shangri-Las (and exactly why aren’t they in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?) and “girl groups” in general, John wrote eloquently about the short-sightedness of the better-known rock music critics, which he dubbed the Crit Illuminati.
He also wrote lovely reviews of movies, mostly old-fashioned westerns (especially directors John Ford and Budd Boetticher) and so-called noir thrillers (we shared a lifelong crush on Gloria Grahame). His other favorite topic was murder mystery novels.
John Walker Ross
Regular readers of The Round Place In The Middle are aware that John suffered through several serious health issues over the past few years. His last project on his blog was a series of articles titled “Defending My Life One Album At A Time,” where he intended to review the 100 albums that had influenced and pleased him the most in his 59 years.
Here are the albums he had listed:
# 97 Warren Zevon, Stand In The Fire
# 98 Johnny Burnette, The Rock ‘N Roll Trio
# 99 Dave Dudley, The Pool Shark
#100 Rachel Sweet, Fool Around
John left behind several other uncompleted projects, including a novel (a murder mystery, of course).
Finally, John’s father was a Baptist minister so I’m sure both of them would appreciate your prayers.
FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page is John in a field somewhere on his journey to discover American and himself through the music and legend of Buddy Holly. It accompanied his autobiographical article “One Ghost Too Many: Buddy Holly Lives On,” in which he “goes where many have gone before and can’t tell if his story is different or the same.”
Here is what John had to say for himself in the About Me section of The Round Place In The Middle: “Hi. My name is John Walker Ross. I blog from Havana, Florida with the intention of saying things you don’t hear every day. Feel free to let me know how I’m doing.”
You did fine, John, just fine …