James Chance (April 20, 1953 – June 18, 2024)

James Chance with Jon Spencer, Bill “Butcher” Bronson, Ron Ward and Ed Bordonada at Room 17, Brooklyn, New York, US (November 2017).

Photo: Daniel Efram (https://www.instagram.com/danielefram/)

“James Chance & Co. 2017.

When last night Butcher Bronson mentioned that Mister Chance had passed away, I felt like I had just taken a huge punch to the gut.

It reminded me that I may have lost the only photos I had ever had a opportunity to take of enigmatic performer.

Fortunately, they were not on one of the corrupted hard drives and I’m able to show you some of them today. Years late and far from technically perfect, but nonetheless here they are.

Chance is shown with vocalist Ron Ward, Producer Jon Spencer and The Dream Lovers (including guitarist / keyboardist Bill “Butcher” Bronson and percussionist Ed Bordonada. With another photo adding engineer Ted Young from their November 2017 recording sessions in Bushwick.

At the time I was still finding my way with a camera and was a bit nervous being in close proximity to this esteemed grouping of NYC music legends, we had a history and they graciously allowed me to capture a lot of images through an old, broken lens. Fortunately, as few turned out. Here they are.

Though Mister Chance lived in my hood, I had never met him before. Contrary to his recorded persona he was very quiet and may have only spoken to Ron while in the studio waiting to record. He did not want to be photographed and I think this was one of my first experiences with a subject who was doing everything in his power to make sure I didn’t get a good image of him. I don’t think he had anything against me, maybe he just wasn’t being paid for both recording and a photo.

It wasn’t appropriate to say how much his music meant to me or to the world, but I was thinking about it the whole hour or so that I was standing next to him at the cramped space.

Hearing that the last few years have been difficult for him and his wife didn’t surprise me. From the outside, his life seemed like it was made to burn out, his short, sharp bursts of cataclysmic skronking emblematic of the peaks and valleys of more than his recordings.

There will never be a replacement for James Chance, but his signature sounds will continue to illustrate the musical rendering of living on the edge for future generations.

Thank you for the notes. Bye for now.”

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