Very sad news today from Loose – Willard Grant Conspiracy were one of those iconic bands of americana who were a mesmerising band to see live. You can hear my personal favourite track from them below, taken from their unbearably moving “Regard the End” album from 2003. Uncut reports: “Robert Fisher from Willard Grant Conspiracy has died. According to a Facebook post from his label Loose Music, he had been suffering from cancer. “He was busy still holding down his day job and recording tracks for his 11th album,” they wrote.
Fisher was one of the mainstays of the Willard Grant Conspiracy, a collective he formed with Paul Austin in 1995 in Boston, Massachusetts, which in total featured as many as 30 members over the years. “As Robert himself said ‘If someone says they play with us they probably do’,” wrote Loose Music. “But it was Robert who was the beating heart of the band, in fact many people thought he was called Willard. “Robert Fisher sang as though he had already seen, understood and lived through the big picture. A booming baritone, capable of both immense power and heart-breaking subtlety.”
The band’s debut album “3am Sunday @ Fortune Otto’s” was released in 1996; their most recent was 2013’s Ghost Republic. The band’s “Regard The End” from 2002 was included in Uncut’s list of the 150 Greatest Albums Of The Decade.”
Incredibly sad news. Saw WGC last year and Robert was, as always, magnificent.
Some where the music got a whole lot better. Godspeed Robert. Big love to you.
The recent passing of Robert Fisher has motivated me to finally transfer to digital the recordings we did together, back in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. We played together in a band called Laughing Academy.
I was surprised to read interviews with him in later years where he didn’t mention the band. I was in it for five years, and he had an earlier incarnation for another five years. That is a lot of time to gloss over. Perhaps it was a marketing decision, since Willard Grant was a radical departure.
At any rate, I’ve copied and uploaded to Bandcamp most of the Laughing Academy catalog. Two of the albums were never released.
Fish — recorded in in Portland, Maine, circa 1987, with Paul Austin, Jeff Platz and Mike Dank. Never released.
Laughing Academy (vinyl LP) — recorded and released in Boston, 1990, with Paul, Tom King, and myself
Wildwood/Ensenda (7” single) — released 1991
No Such Thing As Clean (LP) — recorded in 1992 and never released. With Malcolm Travis on drums (ex-Zulus, Sugar, Human Sexual Response), James Apt on treatments, plus Paul and myself.
They call all be heard at https://laughingacademy.bandcamp.com/.
I thought you might be interested in hearing them.
– Ben Paulos