Sorta drummer Trey Carmichael just e-mailed with some sad news: On Friday, former Dallas Observer music editor Alex Magocsi was found dead in New Mexico, where he had lived since leaving Dallas in about 1997. He had just turned 42. There has been no official cause of death given, but according to Carmichael and Alex's brother Ron, there was no evidence of foul play.
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I became friends with Alex some 16 years ago, when I was pop music critic at The Dallas Times Herald and he was at the Observer, doing more for local music in the early 1990s than the electric guitar and open-mike nights. As much as anyone who ever held the position of music editor, Alex defined the job, celebrating those in need of recognition and lambasting those in need of a good kick in the junk; his "Street Beat" column, with its commingling of newsy nuggets and bold-faced pronouncements, was something his successors always held in the highest regard. Alex was also one hell of a writer, among the few I've ever known who could ever pull off the frantic whizbang theatrics of New Journalism without sounding like a Hunter Thompson fan who didn't have the talent to make it stick. It's unfortunate that his work isn't archived on this Web site, which came into existence long after he left the paper for, among other places, Club Dada, Trees and New Mexico. You would find it thrilling stuff.
In his e-mail, Carmichael writes this of Alex, with whom he attended Lake Highlands High School:
"He was a dear friend and basically the reason I decided to sit down at my drum kit and finally learn how to play it at age 14. Watching him play showed me how to make it all work. We had many a great conversation about music and musicians and even worked together on his online magazine called Reverb, back in '96. He was a sweet person, an engaging conversationalist, was a very good writer, had a great sense of humor and could play the drums like nobody's business. But of course, you all know this."
Carmichael also sends word that Ron would like to schedule a memorial service in Dallas, likely in late May. --Robert Wilonsky