Bob Boss: 1952-2024

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Bob Boss: 1952-2024

Blog Name:Home Page News

Blog Author:San Diego's Jazz 88.3

Posted on:February 27, 2024

The San Diego jazz community lost a beloved family member when guitarist Bob Boss died unexpectedly on Sunday, Feb. 18, in Idyllwild, after performing what would be his last concert. Within hours, tributes began to flood social media from fellow artists, former students, and loving family members and friends who never wanted the music to end. He was 71.

Robert Frederick “Bob” Boss was born at a U.S. Army hospital in Kileen, Texas, on July 24, 1952, to Frederick and Trudy Boss. According to family lore, his birth was announced over loudspeakers to the troops serving under his father, then a young lieutenant. After his father’s military service, the family lived in suburban Los Angeles until a move to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1966.

The childhood Christmas gift of an electric guitar launched Bob on a lifelong quest to hone his craft as a musician and share his passion for music. Performing and teaching would become the cornerstones of his career.

By junior high, he was performing at school dances and events. After graduating from San Ramon High School in Danville, Bob earned his BA and MA degrees in Humanities from California State University Chico. His college years brought more gigs at clubs and concerts, connecting him to an ever-widening circle of musicians who would remain friends for the next half-century. Studying with Jerry Hahn in the early 1970s sparked his interest in improvisation. He moved to Berkeley after college to pursue music as a full-time career, playing a variety of venues and genres in the Bay Area. 

After a move to Oceanside in 1983, he quickly became part of the San Diego jazz community, playing with “Doc” James Williams, Ray Crawford, Jimmy and Jeannie Cheatham, Mundell Lowe, A.J. Croce, Holly Hoffman, Gilbert Castellanos, and a host of others.

Music took him far beyond his native California, including tours across the U.S., Europe, Canada, and Mexico. He brought the same passion for each gig whether he was playing on big festival stages, in small clubs, for school audiences, or on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. 

His close friendship and decades-long collaboration with jazz legend Marshall Hawkins led to concerts, recordings, and invitations to perform and present master classes at Idyllwild Arts alongside guest artists such as Harry Pickens and the late Daniel Jackson. Bob’s last concert was at Idyllwild Arts with Marshall Hawkins, violinist and Idyllwild alum Nora Germain, among others. 

As a music educator, Bob mentored and shaped a younger generation of jazz artists. He taught guitar for 20 years at San Diego State College in addition to classes at Mira Costa College, Mesa College, and Palomar College. He was proud to be a mentor for the Young Lions Jazz Conservancy.
In an interview about his long career with San Diego Troubadour, Bob said that teaching “forces you to define your awareness. It’s like writing in a way. Trying to explain something in a way that someone else can understand...The main thing is I don’t want them to sound like me, I want them to sound like themselves.”
Bob was an avid reader, music collector, and woodworker. He loved nature, especially big oaks and ancient redwoods, and travel adventures. He was a master storyteller with a keen sense of humor. 

Bob is survived by Vicky, his wife of 44 years; daughters Lucille Boss, Rita Boss, and son-in-law Mario Garcia; sister Suzie Boss and brother-in-law Bruce Rubin; nephews Dan and Jay Rubin; and countless musicians who consider him family. 

Along with a private family gathering, Bob’s memory is being celebrated at several tribute concerts organized by the jazz community. The family suggests donations in his memory to a favorite charity.

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