Everyone at ES is saddened and shocked to hear that Neil Kulkarni has died. Neil, who wrote our Soft Cell cover feature just last month, is an old friend of many at the magazine, including David Stubbs, who has written this tribute to him.
RIP the brilliant, the beloved Neil Kulkarni. Since the awful, awful news was broken to me last night, I’ve been in pieces. I’ve lost a great friend, a comrade with whom I feel a great spiritual kinship going back many years.
His passing should be national news. He’s one of our very greatest. He writes with the combined force of several writers, whether as arbiter and denunciator of crisps and biscuits or excoriator of the repellent Spaghetti Junction, as lover of rock, metal and the greatest of all his musical loves The Rolling Stones, as fiercely eloquent champion of hip hop old and new, as tireless promoter of boundary-defying new musics of all esoteric sorts, in which electronic music played a starring role, pumped with the energy of his prose.
Neil arrived at Melody Maker via the letters page, identifying a shortfall in our editorial content in the 1990s and, eagerly invited to make it up, did so and so much more. He raged scornfully, fabulously, hilariously, against the aggressive mediocrity of the worst of 90s white laddish Britpop, more attuned than most to its reactionary, even racist undercurrent, one confirmed in the angry responses to his writings in the Melody Maker letters pages.
As well his great written legacy, including a superb memoir Eastern Spring, he has been a magnificent participator in the Chart Music podcast – the sense of loss among the “pop crazed youngsters’, the Chart Music community will be enormous. But at least in the Chart Music archive there is a great trove of his fantastic, erudite spoken word work, his mellifluous, Coventry-inflected tones indicative of the warm, sweet natured beautiful man he was, for all his invective, as anyone who met him would attest.
My heart goes out to his family, on whom he doted, his loved ones, his co-musicians in The Moonbears, an extremely fine group on top of all else. As a cultural force, he is irreplaceable – as Neil, he will be hugely, hugely missed.