R.I.P. ESP-Disk Founder Bernard Stollman
Published Apr 21, 2015Bernard Stollman, founder of the influential record label ESP-Disk, has died after a battle with colon cancer. He was 85.
The label was started in 1964, primarily as a means to release Esperanto music, but became known as a home for free jazz. ESP-Disk released records from artists like Albert Ayler, Sun Ra, Ornette Coleman and Pharaoh Sanders.
In addition to iconic jazz albums like Ayler's Spiritual Unity (the label's second ever offering), ESP-Disk also issued releases from William S. Burroughs, Timothy Leary, Pearls Before Swine, the Fugs and Cromagnon.
The label shut down in the 1970s, after which Stollman served as Assistant Attorney General in New York state until his retirement in 1991.
A statement from the label's Facebook page was posted yesterday (April 20). It reads:
Sad news here at ESP-Disk. Our beloved founder, Bernard Stollman, passed away last night. Since last year he had been battling colon cancer that had spread to his spine (he hadn't wanted it announced), and had also lately had pneumonia and low blood oxygen. He was 85.
There will be a memorial service in NYC next month. We will pass along the details after it's arranged.