Ray Shulman, Founding Bassist of Gentle Giant, Dead at 73, Fans + Rockers Mourn Prog Rock Legend
Ray Shulman, co-founding multiinstrumentalist for English prog rock group Gentle Giant, has died at 73, older brother Derek confirmed yesterday afternoon (April 1) via Facebook.
His post reads:
I am deeply saddened to announce that my younger brother and my best friend Ray Shulman passed away on March 30th at his home in London. I was with him until the end as he bravely battled a long illness. At least I know he is now at peace. Ray really was a genius in so many ways. He was such a kind and caring soul. He was an incredible composer, musician, music producer & tech wizard. He was a true artist and preferred to stay in the background and let his body of work speak for him rather than talk about himself.
Together with myself and my elder brother Philip he was a founding member of Simon Dupree & The Big Sound and subsequently Gentle Giant. He went on to produce artists like The Sundays, The Sugarcubes, Ian McCulloch and many more. More recently he devoted his tech and musical expertise in authoring and remixing other artists. He will be deeply missed by the music community as a whole. More importantly, I will miss him as my brother and truly my best friend. He leaves behind his wife Barbara Tanner & his older brother Philip. To all who knew Ray or know of him ‘Think of him with kindness’.
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Born in Portsmouth, England in 1949, Shulman’s first instrument was the trumpet, and by his teen years, he’d also learned to play guitar, bass and violin (all of which he played in Gentle Giant). In 1966, he, Derek (vocals), and brother Phil (horns) formed psychedelic/pop/soul band Simon Dupree and the Big Sound. Although they had moderate success with 1967’s “Kites” and their lone LP (Without Reservations), issues with how they were being marketed led to them breaking up in 1969.
Almost immediately, the Shulman trio teamed up with guitarist Gary Green, keyboardist Kerry Minnear and drummer Martin Smith to form Gentle Giant.
Between 1970 and 1976 (and amidst a few line-up changes), they crafted some of the most beloved, characteristic and influential albums in the history of progressive rock, such as In a Glass House, The Power and the Glory and Free Hand. Afterward, they ventured into a simpler, more commercially viable rock aesthetic until their final record: 1980’s Civilian.
Following Gentle Giant’s disbandment, Ray Shulman became a record producer, and he eventually worked with artists such as The Sugarcubes, Ian McCulloch and The Defects. He also scored a few video games (1996’s Privateer 2: The Darkening and Azrael’s Tear) and released trance EPs under the pseudonym Head-Doctor.
Seeing as how Gentle Giant inspired legions of genre proteges – Haken, Spock’s Beard, The Flower Kings, Echolyn and Dream Theater, to name a few – it didn’t take long for fans and fellow musicians to pay tribute to Shulman.
For instance, Mike Portnoy tweeted: “Sad to hear of the passing of Ray Shulman. In addition to being the bassist/multi instrumentalist in the legendary Prog band Gentle Giant, I’ve had the honor of working with him through the years on various DVD/Blu-ray Authoring projects for Inside Out. My condolences.”
Likewise, Dream Theater/Liquid Tension Experiment keyboardist Jordan Rudess replied to Gentle Giant’s Instagram post: “This is sad news. Gentle Giant had a huge influence on my musical life. Sympathies go to the family and friends.” Meanwhile, New Jersey troupe The Tea Club posted to Facebook: “Ray Shulman was one of the most talented musicians in progressive rock history. Rest In the Power and the Glory.”
Similarly, Jethro Tull mastermind Ian Anderson reminisced: “It is with great sadness that we hear of the passing of Ray Shulman, bassist of Gentle Giant and the authoring of many Tull DVDs over the years in his capacity as technical audio and video engineer. I remember Ray fondly for the many tours we did with Giant in the 70s. He will be missed greatly by fellow professionals in the music industry and by all fans of Gentle Giant.”
You can see more tributes to Shulman below, as well as check out some of his exceptional work with Gentle Giant.
Of course, Loudwire sends our condolences to Ray Shulman’s friends, family and countless fans.
Gentle Giant, “Features from ‘Octopus’” (Live)
Gentle Giant, “Cogs in Cogs”
Gentle Giant, “Free Hand” (Live)
Gentle Giant, “The Runaway”
Fans + Rockers Pay Tribute to Gentle Giant’s Ray Shulman