R.I.P. Dan Sicko

Sad news regarding the passing of Dan Sicko, the writer who for many legitimized the Detroit techno movement. As a freelance journalist Dan covered the scene at the grassroots as electronic underground music slowly expanded, and put himself out there to shoulder the responsibility of documenting something he rightly believed was revolutionary and world-changing.

Guys like me looking backwards to original techno for the first time are indebted to journalists such as Dan Sicko and those who helped document the scene. I was fortunate to be put on to his website Techno Rebels when the second edition (originally dropped in 1999) of his book Techno Rebels: The Renegades of Electronic Funk came out in 2010. Proper underground music journalism, revisited nicely a decade later and possibly even more influential than the first time around. Although the website never fully took off to its potential, mainly due to Dan’s illness, Techno Rebels is essential reading.

Following his diagnosis with cancer, the resulting costly procedures have now left Dan’s family in debt. You can donate, in some way thanking Dan for his work, by donating to his fund here: http://www.gofundme.com/DanSicko

via Detroit Free Press

Before the Motor City became home to Movement, there was Dan Sicko, the pioneering journalist who provided one of the world’s first definitive looks at the exploding underground electronic music scene.

Mr. Sicko died of ocular melanoma, a rare form of eye cancer, Sunday at his home in Ferndale. He was 42.

Mr. Sicko worked as a freelance writer for magazines such as Urb and Wired and released the acclaimed book “Techno Rebels” in 1999.

“Really, I know this is a serious statement, but he was the first guy who legitimized Detroit’s techno history,” Jason Huvaere, director of Movement: Detroit’s Electronic Music Festival, told the Free Press on Sunday. “Now, the world is drowning in Detroit techno coverage. But before that, there was Dan, who not only understood the history of the city and electronic music, but he was the historian who put it all down on paper.”

Mr. Sicko, who wrote “Techno Rebels” after being inspired by the experimental underground scene he witnessed firsthand in Detroit during the 1980s, went back to documenting artists such as techno’s founding fathers Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson after the popularity for the genre and its Motor City roots soared to new heights.

In 2010, through the Wayne State Press, “Techno Rebels: The Renegades of Electronic Funk” was released, an expanded and cleaned-up second edition that explored in even greater detail Detroit’s role of shaping techno.

John Cathel, best known as DJ Powdr Blu, said Mr. Sicko paved the way for DJs and fans alike.

“He might not have been a programmer, but through his language, as a writer, he played all the right keys,” Cathel said.

Sicko’s wife, Amy Lobsiger, said that she and her 11-year-old daughter Anabel are extremely grateful for the support that has been shown to them both financially and spiritually through www.mattsicko.blogspot.com . It’s there that Lobsiger details the challenges Mr. Sicko and his family faced while fighting cancer, including medical costs.

“I was always interested in Dan’s work before, but over these last few days we’re now starting to grasp the impact he had,” she said.

“This whole thing has been mind-boggling, a real stinker,” Lobsiger said of the 2008 diagnosis. “But the community has been so supportive. It’s really meant a lot to us.”

Lobsiger said the “Dan’s Story” Web site will continue to be used to keep people informed and that Dan’s co-workers at the marketing firm Organic, where he was an assistant creative director since 2005, are looking into developing a Web page for his book.

As of Sunday evening, Lobsiger said funeral arrangements at St. James Church in Ferndale are still pending. She said visitation likely will be at Spaulding & Curtin in Ferndale on Wednesday.