To the editors,

I am writing this in response to Peter Margasak’s inability to resist trashing Jim Ellison’s life in Hitsville [June 28]. In an otherwise complimentary article, he couldn’t resist throwing in a couple of lines of his usual negativism. Is he following in the great Wyman tradition of saying anything–no matter how asinine–just to get someone to respond? If so, he has succeeded. Or does he–also in the Wyman tradition–delight in reading his hate mail? (He should get used to a lot of that!)

Jim Ellison was one of the truly wonderful people working in the Chicago music community. There was more joy in any of his three-minute pop gems or in any five-minute conversation with him (although it was pretty difficult to keep a conversation with him under an hour) than in the entire careers of most of the people that call themselves rock stars in this city today. Seeing him perform was a wonderous thing–it was the one place where critics couldn’t slag him, and no one could tell him that his latest album didn’t live up to sales expectations. He was there for the purest of reasons–because he loved to play rock and roll and make people happy. I might be naive, but knowing Jim for as long as I knew him, I can’t believe that he knowingly ripped off local bands; he was always too much into music to care that much about money.

During a recent going-away party for Bill Wyman (where I think most people were there just to make sure that he was really leaving), I had a conversation with a fellow member of the music media. In the course of the conversation, it was brought up that Peter Margasak would probably be taking over Hitsville. The person that I was talking to said (only half in jest), “What if Margasak takes over Hitsville? He hates everything.” Well, I guess he was right.

In closing (although this will probably insure that this is not printed), anyone who wants to know what Jim Ellison was really like should pick up last week’s New City.


Paul Natkin