Duncan Wheat, who was a good friend and regular musical collaborator from 1989 and through most of the following decade, is dead. He was 46. I don’t yet know what caused it. Duncan was never what you’d call a happy bunny, and a forced move back to the small village in East Yorkshire where he grew up following the deaths of both his parents five or six years ago can hardly have lifted his spirits. But, fuck it, this isn’t a news report. I just want to say what will no doubt be the first of many goodbyes to my friend. Thank you, Dippa, for all the work you did to help me realise my – they became our – musical ideas, first as one half of the two-boy Kilgore Trout and subsequently with Bear v2.0. Thank you for the recordings you made – unpaid, mostly – for Spoonfed Hybrid and Coping Saw. Thank you for introducing me to sequencing software, for having the considerable patience required to shepherd me through learning to work the bugger, then allowing me to use your studio downtime to piss about with it. More importantly, thank you for letting me sleep on the sofa of your tiny flat when I had nowhere to live; for weekends with Mark and Joe at Rudyard; for that sunny afternoon we drove to Slippery Stones in your ridiculous automatic Honda Civic, marvelling at the first Underworld record; for introducing me to those four Eno albums; for illuminating the idea that timbre and colour are in essence the same thing. And, of course, for insisting that your faithful newspaper-clad Strat copy be addressed only as “Slobodan Milosevic”. I loved you. I love you. You know that, because once when you were in one of those bleak holes between the rock of your own dark moods and the hard place of the chemical cosh intended to combat them I told you so, and to my surprise and delight that simple, easily-spoken phrase really seemed to help you. I wish we’d better stayed in touch. I wish there’d been something I could have done to make things better for you. I wish you could know how sad it made people who you’d probably be surprised could even remember you to have learned that you are gone. Above all, I wish you were here now.
Photo: Jennifer's Ear, with Duncan on the right.
Here's Duncan, alive and well in a Preston WMC in 1990, playing the Les Paul copies he customised as an electric bouzouki and an electric balalaika, collectively known as Dippars. I like best the bit when his Dippar comes in on the end section of Full Moon Over Blackpool. Ignore the silly angstboy in a dress and remember Duncan with love.