In Memoriam: Bruce Nazarian

Posted on by Larry

Nazarian_BruceLast Friday (Oct. 9, 2015) I received word that Bruce Nazarian died of a heart attack while editing music at his computer. For those who knew Bruce, as I was fortunate to do, I can’t imagine a better way for him to leave us.

But this is still a very sad event.

For those who didn’t know him, Bruce Nazarian was born in Detroit, MI, and was a funk and rock musician, recording artist and music producer. He was an active member of the Contemporary Jazz music scene in Los Angeles, and the respected producer and presenter of The Digital Guy Radio Show, heard weekly on Solar Radio in the UK.

During his many years as a Detroit studio musician, he shared studios and sessions with many of the legendary names in the Motor City’s amazing music history: David Ruffin, Johnnie Taylor, Barrett Strong, Anita Baker, the Spinners, and many others. He toured as bass player with Automatix and Brownsville Station, and pioneered digital sequencing and dance music in the 1980’s. (Here’s a link to Bruce’s personal music bio.)

Whenever we talked, which was often, I was impressed with his deep love of music, especially jazz. For those who want to see Bruce truly enjoying himself while playing, watch this clip.

Bruce was never happier than when he had a guitar in his hand and an audience to perform for. And his joy brought joy to the rest of us.

However, music is not how I remember him best. I first met Bruce in 2007 at an LA Final Cut Pro User Group meeting. It was a time when DVDs were the dominant form of media distribution and Blu-ray Discs were starting to appear. Bruce taught himself both technologies so well that he was the definitive go-to resource for the rest of us.

I became the host of the Digital Production Buzz podcast in November, 2007. Bruce was one of the first guests we invited onto the program, Dec. 27, 2007. That was to be the first of his 59 appearances on The Buzz over the next eight years. His last appearance was May 7, 2015, talking about new technology he helped develop for one of the major studios creating on-demand DVDs for movie distribution.

In recent years, like all of us, Bruce struggled to figure out where technology was going; especially when it came to making and selling music. I remember many phone conversations where Bruce would enthusiastically describe a new artist he was working with, new music he was creating, or the Lemonade Jazz Festival he was trying to get off the ground.

Bruce was small in stature, but huge in spirit. He was always willing to answer a question, explain a complex piece of technology, or just lend a helping hand. I learned something every time I talked with him; and I’m grateful for each opportunity.

He was an amazing guy, an immense resource and a good friend. He will be missed.

The Digital Production Buzz created this video tribute to Bruce. Watch it here.

NOTE: To learn more about Bruce, visit his Wikipedia page.


17 Responses to In Memoriam: Bruce Nazarian

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  1. Roger Poole says:

    Though I never met Bruce I’ve watched and listened to many of his talks and discussions. The knowledge he passed on to others lives on in us and gives cause for us to remember him from time to time. If he had to go so soon, then better that he went whilst doing what he loved.

    R.I.P.

  2. Oh wow. I hadn’t seen Bruce in a few years but being a lifelong musician here in Detroit area as well, Bruce and I jammed together many times. Great guy and a great player.

    Sorry to hear.
    Michael Sneed

  3. Ben Balser says:

    Bruce was a good friend, and an amazing mentor to me. I learned so much about technology, and about music production from him. Like him, I am moving slowly away from video and towards producing more music. He was very supportive of this move, and his advice and creative ideas made this transition easier and more enjoyable. He gave me his seminars at NAB to teach when he wasn’t able to, which I considered a great honor. I can not say enough about Bruce. He was a rare, amazing, creative, and loving individual. He was a giant in a world of so many small minds and hearts. I am filled with grief, so saddened. Yet I will think of what Bruce would say to me now if he could, and I will play more music, play with my kids more, and love my wife ferociously. Living life and making it all you can was what Bruce was about. Have fun, be polite, love, laugh, dance. Thank you for posting your article, Larry. He was very special to us all.

  4. Scott Arundale says:

    Bruce not only taught me how to author DVD’s, he demonstrated to me what a gentleman and a scholar he was. I’ll never forget when he was mixing a pilot for us with an insane deadline and the enormous number of changes at the last minute. He handled it all superbly and with style and grace (despite the bad behavior of the producers).

    Bruce, you are missed.

    with sadness, Scott Arundale

  5. gary says:

    What a great loss to our profession. I was fortunate to attend a small group training with Bruce held in Boston several years ago. It was held in Boston and was focused on one DVD authoring- one of his many talents. He was so personable, a very patient and knowlegable teacher and dedicated to his craft. His passing leaves a significant avoid in the lives of many.

  6. Jim Taylor says:

    Thanks for posting this, Larry. I’m sure many of us remember Bruce’s passion, which he brought to everything he did. I first got to know Bruce when he provided DVD training material for the disc that accompanied DVD Demystified. He always had dozens of projects going, usually aimed at helping others learn how to do something that he had figured out ahead of the pack.

    Bruce was a scholar and a gentleman, and he’ll be missed.

  7. Jon Alper says:

    I’m going to miss The Gnome more than a comment on a web page has any hope to express. If you haven’t seen this: http://www.moviemachine.tv/post/farewell-to-bruce-nazarian-the-digital-guy/ it’s well worth a look.

  8. I met Bruce on the first full album I recorded and mixed, Brownsville Station, and worked with Bruce on the last full album I engineered, produced, wrote and performed. During the 13 years, I recorded Bruce hundreds of times, mixed many records he was a session player on. Here is Bruce and I, he played every instrument, the only musician on the disc … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZZkwzN-hQA
    I built Magnolia Sound, had a continuous relationship with him till this day. We were planning to get together to listen to some of our work together. We grew up in the music biz together. Bruce was brilliant, talanted, and a joy to be in the studio with. I miss him dearly. If any one knows funeral arrangement please let me know. God now has a better band.

  9. Eric says:

    Holy shit.. that’s all I can say after seeing the headline in the email blast. So, so sad.

  10. Kate De La Cruz says:

    Larry,

    I wanted to take a moment to thank you for writing this about my beloved Uncle Bruce. Seeing the amazing community of people that knew him inspires me daily. Thank you (and the rest of the community) for posting, commenting and sharing your stories, they create a full sense that Uncle is still with us through them.

    In Christ,
    Kate

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