Songwriter Chuck E. Weiss, a well-known fixture around the Los Angeles music scene for decades, has died aged 76 from cancer. As per the L.A. Times, he passed away on L.A. on July 19th, his death being confirmed by long-time friend Chuck Morris.
Weiss lived a full and colourful life in music, so much so that he was even the subject of the Rickie Lee Jones hit ‘Chuck E.’s in Love’, which charted at number four in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in 1979. The song arose when Jones was living with Tom Waits when Weiss called him from Denver – after putting down the phone, Waits told Jones that ‘Chuck E’s in love’.
Check out Chuck E.’s in Love’ by Rickie Lee Jones:
Weiss released music himself, starting in 1981 with The Other Side of Town, but he’s arguably better known for his connection to L.A.’s notorious nightlife over 50 years. He was a renowned figure in the city, hosting an 11-year Monday night residency at the Central on the Sunset Strip.
Described as “one of L.A.’s perennial hangers-out” in a 1979 profile in The Times, he would go on to become the Central’s co-owner, alongside one Johnny Depp and others. The place later changed its name to the Viper Room but never lost its famous reputation.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers opened the venue’s stage in 1993 but it would later become synonymous with River Phoenix after he overdosed and died in the club. Weiss closed the venue for one week out of respect for the actor’s memory after strong media attention. When it reopened the following Monday, Weiss dedicated his set to Phoenix.
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Chuck E. Weiss never married and had no children. He is only survived by by his older brother, Byron “Whiz” Weiss.
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