Please join us in a celebration of Matthew Sperry’s life and music with the Bay Area’s creative music community:

June 5, 6 & 7, 2008

This year the festival features special guests John Butcher (UK) and Carla Kihlstedt (US) in two evenings of solos, duos, trios and quintets. The festival tradition of commissioning new works for large ensemble continues with a page from Matthew’s composition notebook: Treasure Mouth, which requires a band to follow along to lyrics as fast as they can be written out for them by others — call it improv karaoke. Join in the fun of Treasure Mouth at the festival’s first official Children’s Matinee.

Update: Tom Duff reminds us that his recordings of all 2008 Matthew Sperry Festival events are indexed at

The festival concludes with a Master Class with guest artist John Butcher.

Thursday June 5 | 8pm
Hillside Club
2286 Cedar Street
with special guest
John Butcher
solo, duos, trios and quintets with
Gino Robair, John Shiurba, Tim Perkis and Tom Djll

Friday June 6 | 8pm
Hillside Club
2286 Cedar Street
with special guest
Carla Kihlstedt
solo and duos with
Marika Hughes and special guests

Saturday June 7 | 1pm | FREE
Museum of Children’s Art
538 Ninth Street
Treasure Mouth: a SperryFest Improv Children’s Karaoke Matinee

Saturday June 7 | 2:30pm
Master Class with John Butcher
location provided with paid registration

Festival Tickets available in advance or at the door:
$15 for a single evening show
$25 festPass for two evening show admissions
$35 master class registration fee
$40 for admission to all events
Watch this space for information on advance tickets.

Donations accepted
All proceeds from these benefit performances support the Matthew Sperry Memorial Fund.

Posted Monday, May 12th, 2008 at 9:54 pm
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Harriet Sperry

Another birthday passed without you but you are here. I see you in your daughter, Lila. You look out at the world through her eyes. She has your sense of humor and your aesthetic. She has so much of you in her and yet you’ve been gone for 11 years. I miss you so much. I hope that you are together with your sister who loved you so much.

Dawn Shuck

Going through all my old letters today. Just read the letters Matt wrote right after moving from Tallahassee to Evergreen then Seattle. Letters full of life and love and excitement. It’s been several decades – wow – I couldn’t remember his last name but after a bit of searching I found him… in memorium… ūüôĀ …We danced around one another in world music ensembles at FSU, until a few nights before he left when he said hey, stop for a moment. Have coffee with me. Oh, Matt. You touched my heart and I’m deeply grateful to have known you. I’m so very sad that you are gone… Thank you for holding him here and giving all of us a chance to let you know how Matt touched our lives. much love, dawn

Harriet Sperry

Happy Birthday to my beautiful son. I can almost picture
you and Estee dancing in Heaven. You are missed but you live on in your daughter Lila. She looks like you and she even expresses herself the way you did.
I love you so much sweet Matthew. R.I.P.


i know estee is with you now. she saw you and i know you were there to greet you. you are our guardian angel. i still need you and love you so much.
tomorrow is our anniversary. it would have been 12 years. i can’t believe it. our baby is getting big. she’s a performer like you. i know you are so proud of her. i can’t stand it that she didn’t get to know you.
with you in heart forever,


Now your loving, beautiful Estee has joined you. Please take tender care of her. She never got over you leaving us so soon. She loved you so much.


oh matthew……I cant stand the pain inside me sometimes when I think of you not being here….I know I am so f-ing selfish!!!!! I just miss you so much its the hardest thing ever to not be able to call you and talk to you and have you fill my ear with advice or nonsense or both….I need to hear you…I need to feel your hug so much…I miss you so much…everyone says it gets easier and thats just not true…its not…its not easier without you…it just isnt. Im sorry Im so selfish and venting and I should just be writing a sweet little birthday something, but I cant…Im pissed off and I want you in my ear telling me something…anything…I miss you Matthew….I try to think, what you might say to me right now…Im trying hard….give me a sign…please…anything…just give me a sign please. I love you. Im being so stupid right now. I know it…only you would get it…I know u would…maybe writing here is helping me remember what you would say to me….I love you. Im sorry…I am so sorry.

Dulani Wallace

What a nice guy. I’m so glad he lives on with this event!

Johannes Bergmark

I’m surprised and honored to be listed as an inspiration. I wish you a wonderful Fest!

CatSynth » Cornelius Cardew’s Treatise

[…] will be once again participating in the annual Matthew Sperry Festival performance at the Luggage Store Gallery this coming Thursday. In addition to the tag-team trio […]

Harriet Sperry

Happy Birthday Sweet Matthew,


Margaret Davis Grimes

Henry was honored to play Matthew’s beautiful bass in giving private lessons and a master class at Mills College in Oakland, and at CNMAT / U.C. Berkeley in duo with the great Roscoe Mitchell, both in October, 2O1O. Many thanks to David Wessel of CNMAT for arranging with Matthew’s friend Phillip Greenlief for Henry to play Matthew’s bass while Henry was on tour in the Bay area.

CatSynth » Matthew Sperry Festival: Tag Team Trio Shift

[…] and performed in the Tag Team Trio Shift at the Luggage Store Gallery. This event was part of the Eighth Annual Matthew Sperry Memorial Festival, a festival held every year in honor of local composer and bassist Matthew Sperry since his tragic […]

Eighth Annual Matthew Sperry Memorial Festival | Avant Music News

[…] Matthew Sperry in Memoriam, this year’s concert takes place this week in San Francisco and Oakland. Please join us in a […]

mark collins

it’s humbling to scroll through all these rich outpourings, and to reconnect with some my own variously retained memories. stacia, i believe i ony met you once in seattle, years back, but i’m happy to read of lila’s growing and radiating. grateful for this dip into the continuing thread…

christopher Kennedy

While I did not know Matthew, I have been researching the death of an old friend whose name appeared in this site. I only feel entitled to encroach upon this tenderest of exchanges becaus eI feel that someone here may feel a common bind….the losing of a close and talented friend. My name is Christopher Kennedy, I am a musician living in SF and have known Brian Platt for well over twenty years. He in fact was my first wifes’ high school sweetheart. We got along great and even collaborated on some music projects in Houston, Brians’ home town. I only know, from looking at the UBZUB site that Brian passed away ebout 6 yrs. ago. I would deeply appreciate any one who may feel comfortable responding to me. I would like some closure. For all I know Brian took his Dadaist leanings to the extreme and invented his own demise in am effort to distance himself from his worldly contacts…this would not surprise me. If Brian Platt is alive or if any one knows of his demise please contact Thank you and I am sorry to hear of Mattews passing, he must have been a wonderful person to have touched so many…. Christopher Kennedy


Happy Birthday Matthew! Give a big hug and kiss to Grandma for me. I miss you both so much. I remember the last time I saw you. It feels like it was yesterday. We were all having dinner in Delray Beach. When we left you came over and gave me a big bear hug. You went to your car, returned and gave me another hug. I was just like when Grandma died. She gave me a big hug and I said” I love you Mom and she replied and I love you too!”

Love Sheila


lila turned around in the doorway and smiled this sheepish grin and it was you, mijo, your face on our child and just for that fleeting moment i had you. the way you moved, the way you laughed…so fleeting…

Dane Shapiro

I recently found a note regarding a friend of my mother (passed away years ago) reflecting what a dear friend a harriet sperry was. lived in the same apartment building in santa monica, ca. so did a search, founf this site, and decided to say how sorry i am, (and my mother would have been). My mothers name was Marlene Shapiro.
I hope someone from the family sees this and it brings a good feeling to my mothers friend!


Michael Zelner

Audio from this event has moved here:

Neal Troiano

Please pass my feelings of love and care to Stacia and Lila.
Neal Troiano
(925) 864-5811

estee-daryl smith

Hey baby brother, I seem to have you in my head alot lately…I am so totally missing you and there is noone who can ever fill that hole in my life, since you have left it. I cannot believe that 6 years have gone by…some days it feels like an eternity and some days it feels like I just want to pick up the phone and hear you on the other end. I just saw what MOM recently wrote and the funny thing is that is how I picture you now…somewhere talking about recipes and the rest of us , someplace w/grandma and her purse! I miss you both cause the both of you were people who I could easily talk to you…and you always told me you loved me….so did Grandma.
OK…well…I miss you and I totally love love love you and Lila looks just like you ( I see the photos, I havent seen her for awhile..but I hope to) and I still have the Kharma perfume you bought me the last time I was with you…and believe it or not, it still smells good…I just want to keep it forever…that smell now reminds me of you.
xxxxxx, est

Susan Stock

What a coincidence that I was carried back to this website by Facebook today. Just yesterday Barry and I were in the car and the Who song “Getting in Tune” came on and I said to Barry, “The very first time I ever really listened to this song was with Matt Sperry.” He is still very much missed at our house.


thank you so much to all of the organizers for this incredible tribute to matthew. and thank you scot for continuing to maintain this website and mailing list.
every year brings me further away from my beloved and it is so comforting to me to be with all of you and the music. this festival is like a salve for me.
i love the poster! sweet young matthew with those elegant hands.


Good suggestions Ludovic! I’ll contact the organizers about that.


Did you announce it on upcoming and on ?

harris eisenstadt

what a beautiful program to honor such a beautiful person… matthew’s the man!
harris eisenstadt

Harriet Sperry

Dear Matthew,
Your grandmother died on Tuesday, January 13th.
Please welcome her to Heaven and take good care of her. She loved you very much…


Christian Molstrom

Matthew, we played together informally when I was in Seattle in the early 90s. I left town, ventured on my own journey, we never kept in touch, but I always thought about you, what you were up to, your goofy sense of humor and zany ideas. I recall meeting your wife and daughter when she was wee teeny. For some reason today I decided to google your name hoping to find out what you were up to and came across this memorial. I’m happy to know that you were loved immensely. I know the warmth of your soul will continue to embrace your wife and daughter. Peace, Christian

suki o'kane

And just announced very special guests with Carla on Friday night:

a trio set of new short pieces for cello, violin,
drums: Carla (violin), Marika Hughes (cello), Chris Sipe (drums)

then a set of improvised duos with Carla and Fred Frith.

suki o'kane

The Treasure Mouth event is turning into quite the creative improv orchestra. The list is growing at the transbay but so far Alan Anzalone, Aaron Bennett, Myles Boisen, Chris Broderick, Val Esway, Ron Heglin, Bill Horvitz, Morgan Guberman, Dan Plonsey, Mantra Plonsey, Rent Romus, Thomas Scandura, John Shiurba, David Slusser, Damon Smith, Michael Zelner. More tba.

Tony Diaz

Tears for you this morning, Matthew. We will not stop remembering.

Emily Montan

I don’t know when a person’s life is worth $211? How do we determine that. Is my life worth $211? I don’t think so. There is a charge called involuntary manslaughter, where a driver can be sentenced for murder if it is an accident and not on purpose. This wouldn’t bring back Matthew Sperry nor any other bicyclist/pedestrian killed by a bad driver, but it would be equal justice.

I think as long as public policy continues to favor cars and drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists can count on NO justice. So Judge True, if a someone wanted to “get away” with killing a person, s/he could use a car. If s/he were caught and convinced everyone it was an accident, then getting a fair sentence would be, historically, out of the question.

My suggestions are to either stop riding a bike and walking, move to a place where laws and social policy understands the dangers of driving cars, try to enact laws that equal the playing field (see The Netherlands’ for example) or run a few judges over by accident.

Philip James Woodruff

I had just returned from my first trip back to Seattle in many years. And having stopped in Portland as well to visit one of ‚ĶKagel‚Ķ‚Äôs bandmates brought back many fond memories of the wild days gone by when I hosted the ‚ÄėOuter Limits‚ÄĚ on KCMU and formed ‚Ķkagel‚Ķ .
I remember Matt’s excitement when hearing the original trio and so graciously excepting my request that he work with us. And the day he said he considered himself a permanent member of the ensemble.
How exciting for us to have such a GREAT! Bassist join our ensemble! I was remembering some of our studio and live gigs in deferent contexts. At the Hotel on the sound it was just Matt and Marc Collins on basses and myself playing the piano interior during one of the Seattle Improvised Music Festivals. That was a great trio!
Anyway, last night I listened to our studio release with Matt on the first three tracks. Of course these are my favorite Matt Spearry recordings and not just because it was my ensemble. But because of how well it reflects both what is now a trend in Free Improvision, a more textured or concrete approach, and what Seattle was best known for, Grunge.
I still feel honored to this day to have known and worked with Matt. He was certainly on his way, if he had not already achieved it, to becoming a true American Treasure! Of which we have so few of these days.
In fond memory to my friend and colleague,
Philip James Woodruff
January, 31, 2008

T. Motley

My $600 was well-spent.

T. Motley

As a vivid, all-white cartoonologist, I was so very pleased to have attended this zany event. Seeing people gyrating on stage, raising their voices up, and making a big “to-do” about Matthew Sperry made me very joyful but kind of sad, too. I thought I was had, and had gone to some great holy-rollers’ party in the sky. Matthew, Mathew, Matt-hew… I don’t care how you spelt your name or if you thought you were on the right hand of God. iv briocleurs, indeed! I always felt a little responsible for you.

T. Motley

Mr. Matt Sperry was a big in-fluence on me in my days as a top-flight artist of cartoon fun and merriment. He gace me many cute storys to consider as I wove a magic world all my own of super-heros and action figuress, thh favorite music of which he composed a soundtrack for. Many people never ever heard that music, but when he performed it, it made me cry and shake. I left behind all worldly care, thanks due in large part to my freind, Matthew S.


Sounds as though body armour would not have been enough, or training wheels. I am wearing a bumblebee suit when I ride.


Sall – Yes, as far as I know he was (someone can correct me if I’m wrong). But, sadly, this was not the kind of accident that a helmet would ever help with.

Sall Marne

Was he wearing a helmet? I always thought he was kind of a “helmet head.”

Whitney Sperry

Sorry for the loss.
This is an awesome website, and it makes me wonder if he was apart of my family…

Tony Phillips

Speaking as one of the Chachkas, it feels like tossing a small pebble in a big hole, but remains an honor to participate in keeping Matthew present in people’s minds.

Avi Wenger

i never met matthew. i never heard his name breathed. a new friend, an old family friend, sheila, from florida, a gal who touched my parents in a deep way, came by the other day to pay respect to my father and remember his words, and deeds, and to honor his spirit, and share in these memories with us, sitting shiva. she wrote me about matthew. i visited this site dedicated to his memory, and i was touched… my father played double bass in the israeli philharmonic and for over forty five years in the pittsburgh symphony. i have a strong connection to the instrument and those who lean over its wooden unwieldy largesse to play it. i felt a deep connection to matthew and his music as i perused this site. thank you… may you continue to feel his spirit alive and vibrant in the vanishing notes…

Erick and Dee

This is beautiful. The Red Hot Chachkas have definitely captured pieces of Matthew’s soul as shown by the similar quality of sounds of bands which Matthew played in while he lived in Seattle. This is very meaningful and thank you.


thank you a million zillion for keeping this website going. its so important to us…and it looks great!
the cd is is such a treat..thank you julie for remembering matthew with this fitting tribute.
much love
stacia and lila

Philip Gelb

Thank you very much Julie and the rest of the chachkas!! And thank you Scott for posting this


Sheila Nuzzolo

Matthew was my nephew. I will never forget him. I still feel him hugging me from the last time I saw him.
I love you Matthew!

Sheila Nuzzolo

Harriet Sperry

How beautiful! It would have been Matthew’s birthday next week. What a lovely gift this is. I can feel him smiling. You could’t have remembered him in a more appropriate way.

Thanks Julie.

Liz Preville-Wurms

I was searching the internet in hopes of finding my old friend and neighbor from my junior high and high school days and this is what I found. I am so saddened at the news of Matthew’s death, I can’t even describe it. I remember the days when I was 14 and 15, playing air drums in Matt’s room and watching him and other friends jam in Matt’s living room, playing Van Halen. A talented and wonderful soul even back then. I wish I would have stayed in touch and had the chance to see him and meet his wife and daughter, and have him meet my husband and son. Matt, you will truly be missed.

estee, madison & andrew

Happy Birthday Matthew. We love you and miss you everyday,more than we ever could possibly have imagined. Today, as on all your birthdays, past & future, we will celebrate you, a devoted, loving brother, a fun and passionate uncle, a total music genius and so much more. *(J.L. says it so much better “Limitless undying love which shines around you like a million suns, it calls you on and on across the universe…” xoxoxoxoxoxox times a zillion from us to you.


Tomorrow is Dia de los Muertos and I sit trying to figure out how to remember the people that are gone-just gone. I don’t know how to burn them into my brain. i know that’s what needs to be done, sear them into some part of my flesh to carry them on, bring them with me. I ‘ve lost someone every year since I became a mother, so much so that now I see a pantheon: whenever I think of one, the rest piggyback in like a greek chorus, squeezing all together in one small brittle heart. I can only hope that Matthew is finding a kindred spirit with my Gramps, that my Grandma Millie is not driving him nuts, that he welcomes my friend Leah’s mother, who died a painful and sudden death last week, and helps her through whatever horror that is. I see Tim Krafft fully recovered from his overdose talking to Matthew about noises and how to make them. Becky Heimberg might dance as Matthew plays. This is my comforting delusion. Maybe it’s all a crutch and they really are just feeding trees but i hear them talking to each other, making new family as they need to, finding comfort and watching us, sharing friendly gossip about the ones they left behind. And that’s not far from a wisp of wind, not too different from providing the very nutrients for the earth to renew and grow. In fact, it could be exactly the same thing.

Rodney Pond


For me it simply comes down to the fact that Judge True had the latitude to impose a sentence that fit the crime. The defendent’s actions were obviously unintentional. However she was not merely caught driving without a license. If that had been the case the ruling of an infraction and fine would have been appropriate and in the community’s best interest. However her carelessness while committing an unlawful action resulted in the death of another person. It would seem to me that in the very least a misdemeanor ruling with probation and community service would have been the least the defendent could have done, given the circumstances.

I do not for a minute think anyone of Matthew’s family or friends are crying out for blood and vigilante style justice. We simply feel the defendent should have received a sentence with in the the law governing the circumstances that reflected the severity of the consequences of her careless actions.

The only service I see to the community in Judge True’s handslap ruling is a rather crass one: he saved the taxpayers some money by not giving the defendent jail time and/or probation. Other than that I would be very interested to hear how giving the defendent in this case a mere fine served the community.


Rodney Pond

Angel M. Vicens

I just found out about Matthew’s tragic death. I was working on my website today. I thought about Matthew. Back in 1987, Matthew told me that Jaco passed away. I wanted to contact Matthew. So, I searched for his name. I was glad to learn about his successful musical career. I was shocked to find I am deeply saddened by his departure.

Matthew and I were friends during the FSU years. We attended classes together. Our double bass teacher was Pamela Andrews. We were involved with the symphony orchestra and Salsa Florida.

Matthew was the most genuine, friendly and charismatic person I ever met. He was not a quitter. He was focused and determined to reach his goals. I regret not keeping in touch. God bless Matthew.

Scot Hacker

Deborah –

I think that most of us who were close to Matthew (I am presuming to speak for others here, forgive me) are grateful for the fact that the law is impartial to individual suffering, and are grateful for rational judges who respect the rule of law.

But that’s not our concern here. Our concern is the utterly mystifying reduction of the driver’s sentence from a misdemeanor to an infraction. No one involved with the case (that I know of) seems able to answer this question, which stands apart from elements of empathy for the victim’s family.

Are you suggesting that the rule of law commands that a person who drives with a suspended license and kills a human being have their sentence reduced?

There’s a missing piece here, and we need to understand what it is. Until we have an explanation, Judge True’s decision does not appear motivated by reason. It may have been, but it does not appear that way, since we have not been privy to his reasoning.

– Scot

deborah england

I have known Judge True personally and professionally for many years. I have worked with him, as have dozens of my colleagues. Judge True spent a large portion of his career prior to his appointment to the bench working for the legal aid society in SF. Throughout the time that I have known Judge True, he has exemplified the highest professional ethics and his reputation in the community is untarnished.

I personally know as much about the Matthew Sperry accident as most of the people calling for Judge True’s resignation — that is to say, nothing. Sentencing in a criminal matter requires the balancing of significant and often countervailing interests. As tragic as the accident and death was, the grief of Mr. Sperry’s loved ones simply is not the only, or even the most important, interest to be served in a criminal justice case. This is true where the family of a murder victim calls for the death penalty, and it is true here. The independence and impartial judgment of our judiciary depends upon this being the case.

While Mr. Sperry’s loved ones have every right to speak freely on this matter, it would behoove all to keep in mind that perpective is crucial. The magnitude of your suffering simply cannot determine the weight of the sentence imposed on the driver. I am willing to bet that most of you would agree with that sentiment if it were applied to other criminal matters in which you did not have a personal stake.

That is the heart of our criminal justice system: the interests of the community as a whole are supreme. Any other approach devolves to vigilantism.

Jim Doherty

I do find it odd that the fine of $211 is assessed. In Berkeley, Ca, that is the dollar amount of the fine for “operation” of a bicycle on the sidewalk, where the bike racks are installed. (The mere operation of a bike is prohibited on the sidewalks in Berkeley, where the bike racks are installed Kamikaze bikers under the age of 18, it’s OK to ride the sidewalks, also of course riding the sidewalks is OK if you are a Police officer.) Also by Berkeley Municipal Ordinance, every concievable misdeed by bicycle is a criminal misdemeanor, even locking a bike to a parking meter in Berkeley is a criminal misdemeanor.

That an unlicensed driver could have killed a bicyclist and had this reduced to an infraction is unconscionable. “Sentence” the Judge to riding a bike to work.

There is a guy in San Francisco who’s made it a pet project of his own to keep track of pedestrian (and bicyclist?)casualties on the streets of San Francisco. This includes some pavement markings I believe. I also think some press on M. Sperry’s fate and the ghost bike stuff could help.

Andy Breglia

It is too bad someone can’t come up with some sort of template that can be used to spray-paint this information right on the pavement where the cyclist was killed or seriously injured. Of course, with our luck, they’ll come after the people doing the memorial.

Scott Douglas

On June 4, I went with several friends of Matthew’s to see Hedwig and the Angry Inch at the ReBar in Seattle (Live). It was wonderful and amazing, and so perfect that after two years, Hedwig should return to town just at the first anniversary of Matthew’s death. My friend Amy was there – she and I drove down to San Fran to see Hedwig in February ’03 – the last time I saw Matthew. My friends Sung and Melissa were there – we sat together at Matthew’s funeral – the last time I heard songs from Hedwig performed live. It was the most powerful performance of Hedwig that I’ve seen yet – we cheered and cried and lifted up our hands, and jumped up and down at the end. It was, for me, the most fitting memorial – beautiful, redolent, and outrageous.

Afterwords I spoke with Nick Garrison – Seattle’s Hedwig. He performed a couple times with Matthew in San Fran, filling in on occasion with the SF cast. As I was so touched to have such a great night remembering and truly celebrating Matthew, Nick was incredibly touched to know that he was able to bring such a memorial home to several of Matthew’s friends.

Breathe. Feel. Love. Give. Free.

Beth Pascal

To Stacia, Lila, Harriet, Estee and Sam,
I am thinking of all of you today. I send you love and strength.
Love Beth


oh my mijo. today is our 4th anniversary. my love for you is as strong as ever. i crave your skin, your eyes, your voice. i’m going to bring you cala lilies. remember i held them at our wedding. people still talk about how great that day was. i remember holding your hands looking into your eyes and just knowing. we knew.
i cant believe youve been away for almost a year. i never even liked it when you would be gone for a day!
my mishi my loved one my most favorite sweetness man. my mi mi mi mijo mimishikins i miss you. love from your sweetheart babe toots.


Dear Matt,

I am so grateful for the 6 months I got to spend in your lovely presence. Thank you for bringing your beautiful family into my life; for inviting me to dinner in your home, and sharing stories about how you and Stacia met and fell in love. Thank you for being the kind of man that proudly wears a “World Record Breastfeeding” T-shirt. Thank you for a perfect sunny day (6/1/03) in Cole Valley with Stacia, Lila, Nick, and Mitzi. Thank you for your honesty, encouragement and support. I feel so lucky to have known you, if only for a brief period of time. Thank you for being my friend.



your big sis

i miss you.
i love you.

**(these are the words to a song i love by Kula Shaker…
Into the deep, the long forgotton sleep
You can feel your eyes are shut closely now.
Where do you know.
There’s no-one that can know As you lie you can try to be happy now.
Fly brother fly, may you feel love tonite.
Fly brother fly, well i hope you meet your maker.
Enter you heart, and never let it part
Yesterday was a lie so be happy now.
When all you can feel is what you take as real
Come alive, realise its a feeling.
Fly brother fly, may you feel your love tonite. Fly brother fly, well i hope you meet your maker.
I know, the time has come to let you go
Time to sleep, to sleep.)**

Matt,I think of you as music, the music in my life. It’s so hard to hear you sometimes. I will never let you go me. I will always have you inside my heart.
I will.

Scott Douglas

“Last year.” Suddenly, it’s measured in years, not days or months. “I lost a friend last year.” “My friend died last year…” This while explaining to an acquaintance why I still cry whenever I listen to “The Origin of Love.”

On New Years Eve, I sat with a roomful of friends and family. In a beautiful silver cup from Scotland which my parents brought me, we passed around some really damned good scotch (Balvenie, for those in the know) and, as has become our tradition, spoke of the moment in the past year which was the most pivotal, and for which we are most thankful. My partner Brian spoke of watching me, being with me during and through the minutes, days, and hours following Matthew’s death. rom him being awakened by my incoherent shrieks when I got the news, to pouring me onto a plane days later and pouring me a half-dozen martinis whehn I got home, Brian has been there with and for me. He “gets” death in a way no young person should – he’s be HIV positive for over a decade and has seen way too many friends die way too young.

So what was his pivotal monent of 2003 – what he’s most thankful for? My grief – because it opened me so wide and raw to the awful truth and beautiful truth of what it is to be mortal, alive, and in love. Because he was able to hold me when I was at the absolute nadir of emotional vulnerability, when I had nothing left with which to protect myself. Because in my grief, we got to share a rock-solid truth, a truth which underlies every joy and love of our lives – it’s fleeting, and what we have is what we get, for as long as we get it. And we treasure it. We must.

My pivotal moment? Seeing Matthew in “Hedwig.” I am unfathomably grateful that we drove nearly a thousand miles to see that! That is precious to me. And my other pivotal event is the gift that Matthew gave me and my friends through his passing. Amid the torment and grief, friends I haven’t spoken with in years are again within my circle; friendships that were strong and enduring are now annealed and as strong as Adament through the fires of our shared loss.

It’s often said and sung that “you don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone.” But sometimes you get to know it before it’s gone, and then get to know what you still have after it’s gone. And to those I still have, and you know who you are, I love you all the more in this brave new year for what we have lived throiugh in 2003. Let’s treasure that.

Love, Scott

Gregory Geller

I went to high school with Matt and hung out a bit with him when I went to FSU as well.

He is the guy that inspired me to start playing bass. I would constantly bug him to give me advice on what to do to get better.

I can’t say the we were ever good friends, but I always thought he was one of the coolest guys I knew.

A couple years ago, I looked him up on the Internet, out of the blue. I was happy to find that he remembered me and was just as glad to hear from me as I was of him. We emailed each other back and forth for awhile and he told me about the Letterman show that was coming up.

I remember telling people that ‘the guy who practically taught me how to play bass is going to be on Letterman playing with Tom Waits!!’

This morning, I looked up another old friend of mine that I had lost touch with. He went to the same high school and was also friends with Matt. He told me about this site.

I shut the door of my office and cried.

What more can I say. I wish I had known you better, Matt.


lila has been singing all the time lately. she has your musical sense. the other day she sang what she calls a “sad died” song.

he doesn’t kiss mama anymore
cause hes dead
and he died
he doesnt kiss anybody anymore

i sit in stunned silence. too frozen even to cry.
later i’m weeping as i put on her jammies and she throws her arms around my neck-patting my hair-saying “aww”. i try to tell her mamas okay-just sad -still here for her. but inside i’m crumbling
the anxiety of the truth that you are really never coming back grips me in its fist and i am twisted in convulsing screams-tearing at my flesh. i want out. i throw myself at the cold hard slab of the reality of your death. fight it with my whole being. but it is futile- i only exhaust myself.
i miss you like i miss air when iam so panicked that i can not breathe. every cell in my body cries out for you and is unanswered.
today is six months since you died and i feel like it has been six days.
i need you-i need my healing mijo. doesnt the universe get this? how can my love not be great enough to bring you back? how can you not be with me-especially now that i am in this much pain.
my ears are still clogged from a flu i had over two weeks ago. perhaps yhey’ll clear only when i’m ready to hear. hear the truth that you aren’t coming back. you dont get to live. lila doesnt get her dada. i dont get my beloved.

Rob Harrison

Hello Stacia & Lila,
My heartfelt condolences. These days repercussions of Matt’s death keep washing out like waves I’d guess, reaching farther shores. I just heard about Matt at Thanksgiving, from Elizabeth Carpenter. I didn’t know Matt well–mostly from parties at Steve and Danielle’s, iv bricoleur movie nights at the Speakeasy, and through Joe Zajonc & Black Cat–but those brief encounters always left me thinking man, I’d like to know that guy better–he’s got a spirit about him. Reading through these messages I can see he affected many other people that way as well. Take good care.

Sheila and Niki

Happy Birthday Matthew,

We think of you always but especially on this day of November 6.

Love Aunt Sheila and Cousin Niki

estee, madison & andrew

Happy Birthday Matthew.
You are always in our hearts and thoughts and feelings.
We love you and miss you so very much.
You family will always celebrate this day, just as we always have….as it is, a truely extra special day.
cheers to our sweet Matthew
x0x0 into infinity……….

sam sperry

I attended the Saturday (11/01/03) memorial concert for Matthew in LA. It was a really special event, all the sets were very moving, including the pre-recorded Matthew Sperry solo piece that was played to start off the evening. I’m not a musician but I have experienced enough improvised music to be pretty critical, and I was really impressed with all the sets on Saturday. I felt a range of feelings from fun and wacky to beautifully soothing. Great synergy in the ensembles. The best and only contrabass flute solo I’ve ever heard (by Vinny). I hope someone more qualified than myself will post a more detailed analysis of the evening. I want to extend my thanks to everyone who attended, the organizers, and all the performers for remembering and honoring Matthew. It touches my heart.

An aside: on the drive home to San Diego, I listened to a Bill Frissell tape that Matthew gave to me way backwhen? I can’t remember the last time I listened to it, probably years ago. Well when I got home and searched my LA Weekly to read the piece about the Saturday event, I was curiously surprised to find that Bill Frissell had a gig introduction directly above the piece on Matthew’s Memorial show. I’m not sure what to make of this, but I’m sure Matthew would have been pleased to share the page with him. You can read both pieces at

Miss you brother, every day.

mark funk

I was looking up Hedwig dates & saw a familiar face. I knew Mathew from North Miami Beach senior high in 1987. I was in his jazz band class. I always new he was such an amazing talent! Sorry to see you go matt!
Iím also sorry we never kept in touch.

Rich Glickstein

Out of the blue I put Matthew’s name into a Google search wondering what he’s been up to over the years. I am shocked and saddened beyond belief by his death.

Matthew and I were two of the three bass players in our high school, North Miami Beach Sr. High (in Florida) way back in the day. He was a year ahead of me, and everyone who played in bands knew that he was destined for greatness as a bass player. I hung it up for other pursuits after high school, but wasn’t surprised when I heard Matthew dove headfirst into the music world. My bass playing, while a valiant effort at times, never held a candle to his.

He was one of the warmest people I remember from high school, and an incredibly talented musician even back then. His warm heart and talent will be sorely missed.

Rich Glickstein

Sam Sperry

This has been a long hard summer for all those that were blessed with having any sort of relationship with Matthew. He was my little brother and my love for him will always go right to my very core. I have put off posting to this website that Scott so graciously set up for all of us to express ourselves as it relates to this tragedy, but it is now time for me to put some thoughts, feelings and stories to words. First of all on behalf of Matthewís surviving family I want to extend our appreciation for the love and support that so many of you have provided in different ways, especially for supporting Lila and Stasia, Harriet and Estee. Some of you I met years ago, some of you I just met this summer, and others I have only read your posting or heard stories about. While a part of me died on June 5, the memories and thoughts that have been shared about Matthew really do help me continue in my life after this tragedy. I believe others in my family share this sentiment.

On the first weekend of August, soon after the incredibly special Tribute Concert, a small portion of Matthewís remains were placed in a bronze urn at the Columbarium at the Chapel of Chimes, by a small group of very close relatives and family. The rest of the ashes we brought to Ocean Beach near Judah Street. After some words to usher Matthewís physical remains back to the elements from which he sprang and to tell him to expect us later, we each took a small portion of ashes and tossed them to the sea along with some red roses. I swam out with the bulk of remains and basically took a bath in Matthewís ash and bone. I wish Matthew could continue to live (if he wishes) through me or through any of us. Please remember him when you watch the sun setting or the waves crashing. You all know how much he loved music, but he also spent the summers of his youth on the beaches of Southern California, he loved bodysurfing and snorkelling, and was quite comfortable in the ocean (as Stacia has already pointed out). I could imagine him inhabiting the body of a marine mammal reeling out sub-sonar acoustics from his melon.

I love you brotherówherever the fuck you are!!

Listen to a melon:



I love and miss you Matthew very much.

“There√≠s a gap in between
Thereís a gap where we meet
Where I end & you begin
And Iím sorry for us
The dinosaurs roam the earth
The sky turns green
Where I end & you begin
I am up in the clouds
I am up in the clouds
And I canít
& I canít come down
I can watch but
Not take part
Where I end & where you start
Where you left me alone
You left me alone.
X will mark the place
Like parting the waves
Like a house falling into the
These words were written by Thom Yorke for a RADIOHEAD song called “Where I End & You Begin.”(the sky is falling in.)

these words spoke to me today and I just really,really miss you.

madison shea callihan

I have never had anybody die before and someone who is this close to me(except for great grandma and great grandpa, but I was only a baby.)This means alot to me and I wish it had never happened.I am only 8 years old, but I have been very close to my Uncle Matthew and this is still a shock to me.I am very sad that I will never speak to him anymore.
I want to tell everybody who reads this how I found out.I was in my classroom when my stepdad came in and asked my teacher if I could come home early and my teacher said yes. Outside my classroom he told me what had happened. I was sad and cried all the way home.When I got home my mom and dad were there, and everybody was crying.I went with my dad and he cheered me up a little.That is the story of how I found out about the accident.I know in my mind there must be a reason this horrible thing happened. I love and miss my Uncle Matthew.

R. Gabriel Villalobos

I was a student at Cornish in full career of a love affair with gamelan music that persists to this day. I was enchanted by this music, under its spell. Practicing and performing it was a vast source of contentment for me. Matthew joined us for some performances, he played the kacapi, the stringed zither that floats above the ringing tones of the gamelan. I was always really excited when Matthew joined us for performances, his contribution added so much depth and dimension to the music and I wanted to know Matthew better, he was like a rare visitor who always brings gifts. But it seemed like he was a busy person with a well established network of friends, not really a person who had a lot of time (or who desired) to just hang out and meet new people. Besides I was just a rookie saron player with no music background and not alot of smalltalk outside of how incredible I thought his playing was. All said, I only had a couple of conversations with Matthew and he was actually one of the kindest people that I met in Seattle. My experiences performing gamelan in Seattle with student ensembles and Gamelan Pacifica remain some of my fondest memories and I hold those people who participated with me close to my heart. Matthew Sperry was a special person even amongst the artists and musicians that I was privelaged to know in that place and time. I’m glad to share this with you.

Aunt Sheila

I will never forget your smiling face and the
two giant bear hugs you gave me the last time I saw you.
I’ll remeber you always,
love Aunt Sheila

Airplane Reading

Spiels of Minuteman — Notes by Mike Watt on the early days of The Minutemen, lyrics, essays by Richard Meltzer (Blue Oyster Cult, rock critic), Joe Carducci (who ran SST from ’82 to ’86), Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth). Art by Raymond Pettibone. It’s ha…


Didn’t know Matthew, but do know loss.

You will be forced through all type of feelings.
The whole spectrum. Time is your handle.


The Sadness of Things

I think this has been the saddest summer of my life. The weight of it all caught up with me today. First there was Matthew’s death in June, which shook all of us to the core and has consumed a tremendous amount of emotional energy since. Then something…

ongoing rambling...

Matthew Sperry Tribute Concert

Excellent show! It opened up with Operasperry, a collection of musicians Matthew had worked with over the years. The music…

Camille Campbell

I have never been more delighted to be turned away at the doors of a sold out show! Matthew’s spirit seems to be growing. I love you Stacia and Lila!


I didn’t know Matthew, but I watched him perform 6 times during the run of Hedwig. My partner died 2 years ago and Hedwig–the movie and the play–was the first thing that truly moved me and made me think (and smile) during the grief period.

It was for that reason that I felt so sad when reading about Matthew’s death. I really wanted to do something so I was honored to be at the memorial concert last night.

It was obvious to me–an outsider–watching the many talented and loving people both on stage and in the audience that Matthew was a wonderful person who touched many lives. I also got to play with a beautiful little girl who I’m pretty sure is his daughter.

I also finally got the “car wash” from Kevin C. ūüôā

It is a night that I won’t forget and I’m glad I got to be a part of it.


I didn’t know Matthew, but I watched him perform 6 times during the run of Hedwig. My partner died 2 years ago and Hedwig–the movie and the play–was the first thing that truly moved me and made me think (and smile) during the grief period.

It was for that reason that I felt so sad when reading about Matthew’s death. I really wanted to do something so I was honored to be at the memorial concert last night.

It was obvious to me–an outsider–watching the many talented and loving people both on stage and in the audience that Matthew was a wonderful person who touched many lives. I also got to play with a beautiful little girl who I’m pretty sure is his daughter.

It is a night that I won’t forget and I’m glad I got to be a part of it.

Notes on Matthew’s Benefit Concert

Hard to imagine a life better eulogized than Matthew’s was at tonight’s Matthew Sperry benefit concert at the Victoria Theater. A love vibe that filled the house top to bottom (500 seats, sold out and then some). Orchesperry assembled just for the occa…

Notes on Matthew’s Memorial Concert

Hard to imagine a life better eulogized than Matthew’s was at tonight’s Matthew Sperry benefit concert at the Victoria Theater. A love vibe that filled the house top to bottom (500 seats, sold out and then some). Orchesperry assembled just for the occa…

Scot Hacker

Griffin, you can just mapquest the address above. Here’s a shortcut for you:


Tom Waits at Matthew Sperry benefit concert Thursday, July 31 in San Francisco

from Scot Hacker: If you haven’t yet purchased your tickets for this Thursday night’s big Matthew Sperry tribute concert at San Francisco’s Victoria Theater, time is running out! The benefit show, which supports the family of talented Oakland bassist M…

Hedwig Stars, Tom Waits To Perform at Matthew Sperry Benefit Concert

For the most part, I’ve tried to keep Matthew Sperry-related info at and not x-post here, but this is exciting: The big benefit concert scheduled for this Thursday, which was already looking really exciting, just got bigger. Tom Waits…

Stuart Dempster

Matthew, Can You Sperry Me Again? (2003)
by Stuart Dempster

Dedicated to the memory of jazz bassist extraordinaire Matthew Sperry

The title above goes to a score (immediately below) wherein I have welcomed Matthew Sperry, in his untimely passing, into my body and mind. The score is simply to

Allow Matthew Sperry, and his memory, to process soundly through the performer.

13 July 03

During the time of Matthew√≠s death on the morning of 5 June 2003 I had decided rather urgently to listen to the new Brainstun 2 CD that was about to be released; I had not heard anything by Matt for well over a year. Christian Asplund had sent a preliminary copy of the CD a couple of months earlier for the purpose of writing a blurb.* During that fateful morning I was playing some form of √¨needle drop√ģ whereby I was concentrating on finding the √¨Construction√ģ and other tracks that featured Christian and Matthew. I was not listening to the CD all the way through but rather seeking out the Matthew Sperry playing. Even now, some five weeks later, I cannot fathom why Matthew chose to visit me in that way, essentially saying √¨goodbye√ģ to me. I did not read the email about his death until early the next day.

It soon became apparent that Matt had more in store for me. I now think that Matt was not saying √¨goodbye√ģ but, rather, √¨hello.√ģ My trombone practice during 6 to 14 June seemed to offer significant meditations on, or with, Matt. I was particularly aware of this on the earlier days immediately after his death, but during that entire week I was influenced by his presence. During my 15 June performance at Seattle√≠s CoCA (Center on Contemporary Art). I performed a small dedication piece for Matthew with my garden hose resonating in the resident (Gust Burns√≠) piano.

Matt, however, was not in the least bit finished with me. Therefore, I announced a continuation of the dedication mode, and launched into a set wherein Matt was either standing at my side or residing in my head. It was as though Matt was processing right through me. I consider this solo set to be among my strongest performances ever; even certain members of the audience knew there was something special going on. As I said to some people afterwards, √¨It seems like anything good during my set came directly from the influence of Matt Sperry.√ģ

In writing the blurb for Brainstun 2, I could not proceed without writing about the unwitting nature of this CD as an √¨homage√ģ to Matt.

Because Mattís presence in me is so prominent and surprising, he is perhaps:

1. Teaching me to be attentive.
2. Urging me not to be complacent, and to honor whatever gifts I have, especially in improvisation.
3. Perhaps being for me a kind of nagging conscience or, more accurately, a guru.

If Matt is so willing to give me this time, I welcome him wholeheartedly. It is especially surprising because I did not feel that I knew Matt particularly well, although I have known him a long time√≥15 years. If I am having this amount of √¨dealings√ģ with Matt, I cannot begin to imagine how present he must be in those who really new him well. I feel deeply that somehow I must honor his gifts, perhaps to continue some of the work that he might have done had he lived. It is at once an honor to be offered this kind of an opportunity while at the same time there is some trepidation that I cannot live up to that expectation. But I am ready for the challenge√≥indeed, I am in the midst of it√≥and I thank him deeply and reverently.

Tonight I performed a concert at AngelArmsWorks, Warner Blake√≠s and Karen Guzak√≠s new studio space remodeled from an old church in the town of Snohomish about 45 minutes northeast of Seattle. It is an absolutely stunning remake of this remarkable old building, and it is a pure delight to be in it. The only thing more out of hand about it is the garden area on the southeast corner of the old church. It is a montage of many plants√≥some of them edible√≥outdoor furniture, and art pieces. As the audience arrived, Renko and I plunked down in the midst of the shrubbery and began to play our wooden frogs and our birdcalls. I also played the conch with a wooden stick that sounded like a large frog or cricket. Eventually we moved about the outside space, √¨performing√ģ on as many of the garden items (chairs, pipes, art objects, and so on) that we could. It sounded quite nice and gentle, and everybody seemed to love it.

Finally moving inside, I began by continuing with the birdcalls and other √¨objects√ģ√≥even an undercurrent of these sounds during Warner√≠s introduction. Then I performed √¨Matthew, Can you Sperry Me Again?√ģ that, while not as dramatic as it was at CoCA, still had some significant impact. I could feel Matt√≠s presence, and I made reference to the Arms of the Angels when I introduced the piece. Then I did several set pieces, including √¨Roulette√ģ, √¨Didjeridervish√ģ (with a short √¨didjeridemo√ģ), √¨JDBBBDJ√ģ, and √¨Acuhosery√ģ. Many of these involved the audience singing or humming, and the second round of √¨JDBBBDJ√ģ was a specific healing energy effort directed at √¨Lee√ģ (one of the audience members). It seemed to help her significantly. At the end I played √¨My Funny Valentine√ģ as a dedication to my own valentine, Renko. Through it all Matt remained present; certainly he would have appreciated the programming, healing, and sentiment. Matt also would have appreciated the √¨at-once-ness√ģ of the healing, humor, and seriousness√≥and the happy faces of the audience as they got up for the pot-luck dinner.


*Blurb for Brainstun 2 CD on Present Music by Christian Asplund (June 03)

“Brainstun 2” unwittingly serves as an homage to the late and highly esteemed Matthew Sperry whose untimely death occurred just a few days before this CD release. Sperry and Christian Asplund are featured in three particularly poignant and spiritual “Constructions.” Asplund, in his well-crafted compositions, delightfully teases us on those slippery slopes between composition and improvisation; in the liner notes, Michael Hicks provides “a perspective” on Asplund’s music that is as insightful as it is loving. In “Brainstun 2” Sperry and Greg Campbell admirably supply an energetic rhythm that propels one from track to track while, at the same time, elegant melodic explorations are delivered with aplomb by Jessica Lurie and, indeed, all the Brainstun musicians.

Stuart Dempster, Professor Emeritus
University of Washington School of Music

Peter Mitchell

Matt and I worked together for a good while at Local Flavor. I remember he was driving this beat up blue car with a bumper sticker that said “Car Bomb”. One day we were chatting about the future and he said something really nice, he said, “I think Peter can do anything he wants to do.” I’ve carried that comment with me since that day. Thanks for the positives Matt, my thoughts are with you!


Just wanted to say a quick “hello” to the family. I pray that all is well with all of you.

Mosella Harris
Virage Inc.

Kama Einhorn

Dear Sweet Lila,
By the time you are old enough to read this yourself, several years have passed and hopefully you and your mom have found some peace and healing after the horrible thing that has happened. I met you and your daddy about a year ago in New York City. We all went to a little diner and I watched you and your parents and I thought, “Lila and her mom sure are lucky!” Your dad will always be your dad and nothing can ever take that away from you. Boy, did he love you! Everyone who loves you and your dad and mom (and I see there are lots and lots of people who love you all) will help you remember him, and they will tell you all about him. I hope to see you soon and give you a big hug and tickle. Please give your mom a big kiss from me.


Matthew Sperry Tribute Concert at Victoria Theater

I will be out of town.. But this is where I would be if I could.. I think I might…

Berta Coogan

My name is Berta Coogan and my husband’s cousin, Sean, left the post right before this one. My husband, also named Matthew, found out about this great tragedy at about 4AM this morning while casually thumbing through his Bass Player mag….he came across Matthew’s obituary and his reaction was one of tremendous and painful disappointment. He needed to call Sean at that time to share the news as well as look for support as they had all spent some time, many years back, playing together. He spent the next few hours after that explaining to me the extent of enlightenment, musical and otherwise, that he had acquired through his time in life spent with Matthew Sperry. Although I never had the honor of meeting him myself, I know that he was one incredibly talented, “real” and special person who touched so many….probably so many more than he ever could have imagined. May his soul rest in peace as my heart goes out to his family.

sean delson

i met matt in high school, we we nt to differnt schools but are within a year or two in age a nd came across eachother now and then as players in south forida. Later we met up again at FSU and formed the trio “Melon Fumble” our drummer whose name i thoughlessly forget was six foot ten inches tall and slammed. Matt was listening to the H.G. the minute men and The Dead. He had the stienberger that he ripped the fretts out of and filled and flyin frettless baby Jaco Jaco Jaco he was fun, soft, confident ,focused and always ready to play.. I just got the news after a full night of great music playing with great people creating . at three A.M. Coogan calls he just read the obit. in Bass player mag. I am looking for the long lost unmistakable recordings of this band Melon Fumble, that also featured some horn work by matts friend kevin montgomery. we are talking 1986 i will send copies to the family. i have not seen matt in fourteen years but he left his mark. I missed him before he left us. Love Sean

Brett Larner

Going through my mailbox the other day I found a long, old message from Matthew in January. I wanted to share the message’s last paragraph:

“I’ve never been happier than I am right now- contributing my talent and effort to other people’s creative work- but I still have a longing to do my own thing. I get closest to that with improvised music, but there’s more to be done. Well, when I see you again let’s make a toast to long, diverse life.”

I’m so sorry we never made that toast.



I was only lucky enough to meet Matthew about four times. You and Lila were with him every time except once he was collecting donations after a Hedwig show. It took me a minute to figure out who he was… I had no idea it had been Matthew tearing the roof off “the Vickey” with a little help from his far more than fabulous friends.
Every other time I met Matt he was with you and Lila. I was there for Los Platanos Machos Quattros and I also play-dohed with Lila on that lovely day. Its clear when I remember those all too short encounters that for all the joy Matthew is experiencing he is equally saddened for what he had to leave behind. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

Eric Lanzillotta

It’s taken me a while to react and post something here, because it’s taken me a while to deal with Matt being gone.
I met Matt the first time I was living in Seattle, which was in 1993, and then got to know him better when I moved back to Seattle perminantly in 1995. Besides the fact that he was an incredible bass player, and played in a gamelan, what really impressed me about Matt is what a wonderful person he was as a human being. He was a pleasure to be around and spend time with, whether at some musicial event or just hanging out. He was a very inspiring person because of his good disposition and general enthusiasm. He gave an example of how life could be great if you just had the right attitude. Matt’s personality and excitement made him friends with a great number of wonderful people around Seattle, and I owe a great deal of gratitude to him for introducing me to many of them. But most of all I cherish his friendship, and have many happy memories of times with him. I remember early on, Matthew invited me and my 5-year-old (or so) son to go with him and some other friends to an outdoor art event / picnic somewhere over by Redmond. At the time, I still didn’t know so many people in Seattle, and most of those that I did, didn’t know how to deal with a small child. Being a single parent, it was great to find someone who could interact with us both. Thinking of this, it makes me sad to think how Lila was blessed with such a wonderful father, only to have him taken away so early. Losing Matthew is very sad for all of us, but it is even more sad that little Lila will never get know that wonderful man better.

Jason Eagan

I met Matt in October of 2002 at the auditions for Hedwig. Over those first weeks of rehearsal, without even knowing much about Matt’s life outside The Victoria, we became friends. Matt of course was an excellent musician but it was his personality and passion for music, family and life that gave him a spark you noticed right away – on and off stage. His eagerness to make something perfect, his tenacity and his willingness to be outspoken served him well. Working on a show is an intense experience for a new group of people. You become really close really fast. By the time I returned to New York in December, I had made a good friend in Matt and we had shared some great moments. He made me laugh and he impressed me everyday. I’ll never forget our Amoeba Records appearance when Matt turned to the side stage, ignoring the audience completely, to play for Lila (who in the green room had been a little confused by who this alter ego was!). It was all things great about Matt summed up into one brief moment. He always had his priorities straight and the world respected him for it. He lived each moment to the fullest – a fine example of a beautiful life.

Until we meet again Mr. Sperry.

Peace to you all.


tom freer

hello all…these comments amaze me. i met matthew at hedwig twice and i can’t believe how much his death affected me. he was warm and special and we compared notes on being daddies to little girls. he encouraged me as i am a struggling musician. i like this world a lot less now that he is gone, even though i barely knew him…

antero alli

I knew Matthew in Seattle, partly from his gigs there but mostly from meeting him on the streets and talking; much was said in short bursts of time. Signals flashing between us. Then I moved to Berkeley. When he moved here, I took it as a good omen, that maybe something important (alive) was happening in the Bay area. His high spirits, always upfront. Always upfront. Seems to me he’s still around. Good night, Matthew. See you around.

Bebe Risenfors

My name is Bebe Risenfors. I participated on Tom Waits¬• two latest albums “Alice” and “Blood Money”. At the recording venue for these I met, and played together with, Matt. We played together for a couple of days and that is not enough to create a real friendship, but I realised the potential for this…now I hear it¬•s too late…it breaks my heart… It was great playing with Matt… My only guess is that The Great Orchestra Leader up there has a challenging thing coming and he wants to round up the best… My thoughts are with his family…

Lots of love from Bebe
Stockholm, Sweden

Erica Blue

I could not have dreamed of a more perfect partner and lover for my most beloved friend . Matthew you are not only beautiful, in every way, but you are THE ideal. You are what we should all strive to be. Your life and death has changed the way I live my life. And for that I thank you.

Erica Blue

Mike Tenzer

My condolences to Matt’s friends and family.
I heard the horrible news from my older brother, who heard it from my little brother, Jason, who was closer in age/grade to Matt in high school. Jason was friends with Matt’s high school friends and kept us abreast of his acclomplishments in a “local boy makes good” sort of way.
I was a senior at nmb when Matt got to high school and I remember him just being around the music and drama scene. I remember just a real nice kid, very enthused about music. From all the posts on this site I’m sorry not to have known him as he evolved from the youngster into the life force he obviously became as he grew older.
I played drums in high school in a trio with Larry Marotta for just a couple of gigs. A coffee house and battle of the bands. We played King Crimsons Lark’s tongues in Aspic and Hendrix’s Third stone from the Sun, and something else I forget. Matt just about jumped out of his skin when he heard us play that “wild ” stuff.He came up to me after the gig ( I think he ran sound or lights for the show) and said he was Blown away that anyone was playing this stuff.
Well, it must have made quite an impact considering how his life turned out.
I saw Matt a couple of times in Tallahassee.I also went to FSU.
The last time I had the pleasure of seeing Matt, I drove up from gainesville to see Adrain Belew at a show in Atlanta . Must have been about 1989 or ’90. Matt picked me out of a crowd to say Hi. We chatted for a few minutes after the show.
What a nice guy!
Mike Tenzer

Leslie Byer Rosner

I knew Matt in high school — he was a senior, I was a sophmore — we were in the Jazz Band together. Even then, he was a true musician with an amazing talent and passion for his art.

The music I love today — which is such a large part of my life — was easily and directly influenced by what I learned from Matt.

It’s funny. There are people you knew for years — neighbors, coworkers, school mates — who are quickly forgotten. But then there are people who enter your life for such a brief time — one short year during high school — and their memory stays with you for a lifetime.

My deepest sympathies and condolences to Matthew’s family and friends. May his memory be a comfort and an everlasting source of joy.

Leslie Hope Byer Rosner

Ron Thompson

The memorial concert at 21 Grand was a great, wonderful and emotional experience. It was amazing to see so many artists give 110% of themselves in their performances. The spirit of Matthew pushed us to be great that evening.

Elliott Aldrich

What a fantastic event! I’ll definitely be a regular for this event and spread the word.

Laura Wald

I was sitting next to the cooing baby Miles at 21 Grand– it was great to having him singing along. The whole show was amazing, I didn’t want it to end and I didn’t want to leave.
Also, Phil Gelb’s performance at Chapel of the Chimes yesterday was soulful and mesmerizing. I spent much of the afternoon sitting by Matthew’s photo and listening to him.
It’s so good to be in the company of so many people who loved Matthew, even though I just moved back to SF and so don’t really know anyone at these events (I knew M from Seattle days). Just having the quiet companionship and the music is wonderful and soothing. Thank you everyone.

Scot Hacker

Philip Gelb sent me this as email the day before the Chapel of the Chimes concert:

I will be performing solo in the Garden of Supplication at the Chapel of the Chimes at the wonderful, annual, solstice festival. This is the room where Matt’s ashes will be. I will be playing traditional Jewish and Japanese pieces as well as modern pieces. This has always been one of my favorite festivals to perform on!!

This year, it obviously takes on much greater meaning. Last year Matt and i were both performing on it though not together. I introduced him to my homeade nukamiso daikon and cucumber pickles that evening which he was relishing while standing in front of John Lee Hooker’s remains. I think he mentioned that there should be more

Shortly afterwards i started playing with 2 wonderful koto players, Shoko Hikage and Brett Larner. A few minutes later,from the floor above us comes a very loud barrage from Dan Plonsey’s ensemble. My trio stopped playing. I went upstairs and Matt is playing in Dan’s group and looking at me with this guilty smile on his face, looking
at me and mouths the words “are we too loud”? He was managing to eat the pickles while playing and never seemed to miss a beat! I decided to join them for a piece and then my trio found a different room to play in. ūüôā

Matt finished all the pickles before the end of the concert.

Scot Hacker

I was unfortunately only able to attend the 21 Grand show for a little while — it was late, and my little one got squirmy — but only after cooing along with Philip Gelb’s trio for a while. The house was packed, with listeners stacked up in the aisles. Great vibe in the air — I just wanted Miles to experience that love for a little while, and he did.

jenna rizzo

the stories of matt’s recent ventures always filter through the grapevine and make there way back to seattle. last nite came a story that matt had been killed. he will always be in my heart as one of the best people i’ve known. it makes me smile and giggle to think of him, his funny ways and his most excellent, expert instructions for brown rice cooking. i love you matt.

Ed Pias

Matt was a musician whose spirit permeated his music and his musical beliefs. I was never able to think of Matt as a “bass player” but rather as a great musician who played the bass. His creative and spiritual energy were always devoted to that moment when music was being made. That’s rare.

My heart, thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. He was too good for this world and was needed elsewhere. Everybody—play, play, play, and, give, give, give. Don’t stop.

Peace Matt.

Ed Pias

Alan Fishman

I have been friends with Matthewís mother, Harriet, for almost 25 years. Over these many years has grown an intimacy and fondness for Harriet and her entire family: parents, sisters, children, grandchildren and nieces. I feel that I am a part of her family. I have always been there to advise, participate and share in all the joy and anguish that one usually does as a member of a family. Over the years, I have seen Matthew grow from a boy to a man. I have had the pleasure of sharing in all the wonderful accomplishments of his life, either in person or through the eyes of Harriet. Matthew only brought joy and happiness to his family and to the rest of the world. There was a spirit of goodness, concern and compassion that was with him his entire life. This spirit is what helped make Matthew unique. I can not recall ever seeing Matthew sad or angry. Only happy and optimistic. Matthewís tragic death has brought me to tears on a daily basis. As I am typing this memoriam to Matthew I am weeping. Weeping over the fact that Matthew accomplished so much in such a short time, that the world will never know how much more he was going to add if he was still here. Weeping over the senselessness of his death by an irresponsible person. Weeping over the pain that so many people, including myself, are going through at this time. But, when I am down and in tears I remind myself that Matthew was very spiritual and optimistic and that from his life I have learned to go for your dreams and aspirations in a good nature fashion, not to dwell on the bad. I know that Matthewís spirit will be with me as I go forward with time.

David Badagnani

Matt Sperry was one of my very favorite people during the time we studied music at Florida State University in Tallahassee in the late 1980s and early ’90s. We had similar musical interests, and played and ate together often. The recent, tragic news brought back many memories of Matt (who I haven’t seen in over 10 years) for me. The first thing I thought of when I was forwarded that email with the news that Matt had been killed while riding a bicycle was that he had helped me to buy one upon my arrival in Tallahassee.

When I came to FSU as a freshman without a car, Matt generously offered to drive me to the local Wal-Mart so I could buy a cheap mountain bike–which I ended up using for my entire four years there. I remember him taking it for a test drive around the parking lot that day.

Another time, he explained what I should do if I ever caught someone trying to steal my bike. “You have to act totally crazy and out of control,” he told me. Then, method acting, he showed me exactly what to tell the would-be thief, yelling maniacally while shaking his hands in the air: “WHAT THE F— ARE YOU DOING??!!??” He showed me several times so I would get it just right. This would almost certainly scare the person off, he told me. (My bike was stolen several years later, after all, but, as I didn’t catch the thief in the act, I never got to try his advice. But I never forgot it.)

Matt has always epitomized, for me, the modern-day musician who is interested in, and can do, everything well. In Tallahassee he played bass pans in the steel band, electric bass in rock bands (although he always preferred playing the double bass), West African drumming, singing, and dancing (he actually did a very athletic solo dance one year), fretless electric bass in the salsa band, classical double bass, improvised and avant-garde music with the New World (Music) Ensemble, and probably a lot of other things I can’t remember. He always played with great focus, intensity, and creativity. I remember one day he brought in a version of Ornette Coleman’s “Lonely Woman” he had just recorded on a 4-track, done entirely with multi-tracked electric basses. Another time, he played a piece for double bass using intervals in increments of 1/3 of a half step, mindblowing for all of us other musicians for the amount of practice that took to pull off. It was always fun to hear about his ever-expanding musical activities out West. Like everyone else, I was so excited to see him play with Tom Waits on the David Letterman show.

I’ll tell one last story, which I’m not sure why I remember, but somehow seems worth sharing. One day, Matt was walking down the sidewalk on Tennessee Street in Tallahassee, enjoying the day and carrying a bucket full of sweet muscadine grapes he had collected on the farm he was living on, just across the Georgia line. A homeless man approached Matt and told him he needed money, as he was hungry. Matt told the man that he didn’t have any money, but showed him his bucket of muscadines and told him he could have as many as he wanted. Rather than accepting his generosity, the man instead looked at Matt like he was crazy and yelled back, “I don’t want that! I want meat!!!”

Matt, you were an amazing musician and a great guy. Many of us still can’t believe or understand that you aren’t here with us physically right now, but I know that all the positive energy (musical and otherwise) that you shared is going going to continue for a long, long time. Thanks also to the person(s) who created this website.

Matthew’s Memorial Concert

Matthew’s memorial concert was tonight. So much packing to do, so much prep work for tomorrow, and was in the middle of taking the aquarium apart, almost didn’t go, but somehow needed to. Amy was teaching so took Miles in the Baby Bjorn (aka the Baby B…

zoe krylova

dearest stacia,
as far away as i am from you and as long as it has been since we last spoke or saw each other, discovering this news tonight has me in tears. i am so sorry for your loss. i remember meeting matthew long ago when i ran into the two of you on college avenue. you had both just taken a tantra class with kami and were glowing with love and connectedness. may your amazing spirit and incredible strength see you through this difficult time. you and your beautiful lila are in my thoughts. lots of love to you, zoe (in ann arbor)

Eunice Blavascunas

A Memory of Matthew Sperry
from his visit to Bialowieza Poland
in October 1998
Remembered by Eunice Blavascunas

Matthew arrived with a wound; a slight cut on his index finger from his pocket knife, which he had used to slice a roll of bread at the bus station. I attended to his finger with an alacrity reserved for important officials. Right to it! “Where is the first aid kit?” I charged about the halls of my institute, the former bureaucratic center for Czar Nicholas’ hunting forays. The two cleaning ladies, Ella and Helena, came to my aid quickest, interrupting their afternoon tea to attend to my distinguished guest. The cut was hardly serious. It appeared superficially deep and most of the blood had been dabbed away already. But I was so touched by his need. Somebody finally needed me. I could move from being the dependent foreigner to the delegating expert. “Find Matthew a bandaid!”
Matthew’s appearance meant the world to me and assisting him in this small way took on elevated importance. Ella and Helena pulled a painted tin from the chemistry lab cabinets and asked all of these questions of Matthew. “Does it hurt?” “How did this happen?” “Did you wash it well?” “Do you need some tabletki” (the standard word for any medication such as aspirin or antibiotics)? Matthew nodded no and a chortled. His cut was only a pretext for the rest of us to demonstrate our enthusiasm for the visitor from the outside.

Bialowieza really was the end of the world and Matthew, who had been touring on the long string instrument in Prague and Berlin, came to visit. A trip to Bialowieza required Matthew to take an overnight train from Prague to Warsaw and then spend most of the day hopping a series of local buses to the very last bus stop on the Easternmost out post in Poland, just a km from the Belarusian border. On one of his layovers in the industrial logging town of Hajnowka he waited on a bench for some time. This is where he cut himself picknicking on Polish rye.

He added that some elderly gentlemen on the bench beside him had mistaken him for a Pole. They struck up a conversation addressed at Matthew, who naturally wasn’t privy to the local dialect, known as “tutejszy”, (akin to “hillbilly” talk). Matthew, Stacia tells me, has the uncanny ability to look at home everywhere he goes and is often mistaken for a local. After the men discovered Matthew’s “otherness”, they offered a banana and assisted him with the transfer bus to my village. I thought it miraculous that he found his way. I had no phone at my house and limited email access. Not knowing when he might arrive I left a note tacked to the door of my house directing him to my institute of forestry research.

I beamed when the secretary escorted him to my office. There is nothing like isolation and homesickness to make the arrival of an old friend an extraordinary occasion. After we bandaged Matthew I took him to my cottage to share all of my meager provisions, such as kale, potatoes, and kefir, which Matthew, who had been needing the simplicity of home cooking, ate up voraciously. With Matthew to share them with, the vegetables and soured milk tasted even more enjoyable. He offered his “ritter sport” German chocolate for desert and we talked long into the evening, which came early in October. We talked of life and choices and love and friendship. I don’t remember all of the details, only that the exchange was meaningful and that Matthew was both generous and adventurous to travel so far out of his way to such an unglamorous location.

He spent two nights, three days, in which time we never grew tired of talking. Nothing particularly eventful happened during the course of the visit. I took him back to the industrial town of Hajnowka to an open air market. I bicycled with him to the Belarusian border and invited him in to sample the honey of my beekeeper neighbor, who called him a girl because of his long hair. Matthew wasn’t fond of his honey. When Matthew departed he left with me a tape of the iv bricoleurs that I listened to carefully never quite “got”.

We all wish so dearly that Matthew’s only injury were a small cut that could be doted over and fixed by Polish cleaning women and some “tabletki,” but the circumstances are much more calamitous. We all miss him but the moments in which we felt blessed by him will sustain us as we go about restructuring our lives around his absence. Stacia and Matthew invited me into their house three months ago to live for a while. I found encouragement in knowing that I had a community in Oakland that cared about me. Matthew and Stacia cooked meals with me and partook of my travails as I of theirs. I am so lucky to have spent so much time with Stacia, Matthew and Lila during the months leading up to this tragedy. I love you Stacia, Matthew and Lila.


We’ve been hit by waves of intense emotion since hearing of Matt’s passing – in the years since he’s left Seattle, we’ve only seen him occasionally, and so it almost seems like he’s still down in California, playing music somewhere – not gone. But then to think we’ll never get an email from him or a call that he’ll be in town… it breaks my heart. We can only imagine how hard this is for you, Stacia and Lila. We’ll never forget the amazingly beautiful, generous, supportive, talented, loving Matthew.

Love – Julija & Jesse, Seattle

Jessica Richardson

To Stacia, Lila and family,

As I sit and read through all of the wonderful sentiments posted here I am reminded of some great memories of Matthew. I was included into his wonderful world by my sister and her special friendship with Stacia – fun events with the Baby Posse, Milo, Noah, Lila, Morgan, Silas.

My first and best memory of Matthew was on July 4th, 2001. Our families lived around the corner from one another and we celebrated on that warm evening together, Matthew made me try tofu and I liked it for the first time.
The fireworks started in downtown Oakland and we scrambled for a good place to watch – we decided their front stoop wasn’t quite high enough for a clear view. Matthew suggested the roof. There I was, helping to clear items out of the closet to get through a tiny opening in the ceiling into the attic. We jumped from joist to joist looking for a passage to the roof. Too high for me to reach, I bid him farewell. He struggled a bit and made it through, happy in his truimph – the skies celebrating his victory.
He told me everything when he came down, about the colors and the shapes and the sounds – painted a picture beautiful enough that I felt that I was there with him.

That’s our job now. Everyone that was fortunate enough to know Matthew has a story to tell, a picture to paint – something to share. We are here for you Stacia, Lila and family, here to share all the wonderful memories we have.
Not a day goes by that I don’t think of you Stacia and Lila, my love to you both.


Jonathan Lammers

Last fall, I was one of the dozen or so people who tried out for the bassist part in the San Francisco production of Hedwig & The Angry Inch.

It was a long afternoon, and as I sat in my chair watching the other musicians run through their numbers, I took note of the one and only guy in the theater who actually took the time to put on full glam makeup. I wasn’t sure what to make of him at first. And it wasn’t until he walked up to the edge of the stage that I even realized he was a bass player. But the moment he started playing it was obvious–at least in my mind–who was going to get the part.

I also kept feeling as though there was something familiar about him, and after a few minutes I finally figured out what it was: underneath his vest he was wearing an ancient T-shirt for a Tallahasse band called “Gruel.”

I am from Tallahassee.
All the guys in that band are my friends.
And I know for a fact there couldn’t be more than 25 of those particular shirts on the entire planet…

So the minute he stopped playing, I walked up and said, “First, you were really, really good. Second, you’re going to have to explain to me how it is that you’re wearing a 15-year old t-shirt for a band that nobody outside the Florida panhandle has ever heard of?”

It was the start of a very sweet conversation.

Within a few minutes, we realized we had a bunch of friends in common, and we both laughed at the synchronicity of the moment. I also told Matthew I was sure he was going to get the part–that he totally deserved it.

We traded phone calls and a few emails over the next couple months… saying we should get together and so forth. But I hadn’t seen him this year until the final performance of Hedwig. We talked for a while at the after party, and I had a great time meeting Stacia and Lila. When it came time for me to leave, I said that I looked forward to seeing him again soon, and made my goodbyes. I know it sounds strange, but I really felt as though I was going to know Matthew for a long, long time…you just get that feeling with some people.

In any event, I want to offer my condolonces to all who knew and loved him–especially his family. Although I didn’t know Matthew well, it doesn’t take long to know you’re in the presence of a genuine, sweet, human being–and I can see by the posts here that those qualities were echoed by all those he counted as friends and loved ones.

-Jonathan Lammers

Ed Adler

Matthew Sperry was my cousin.
I thought that he was my 2nd cousin, but I have since learned that the proper term is 1st cousin once removed.
Under the circumstances that brought me here, I find that phrase extremely ironic as once removed is one time too many when it comes to my cousin Matthew.
I have a picture back in Boston from 1981 of Matthew playing saxophone with my Dad.
The picture has always made me smile as my Dad was always at his happiest when he was either playing with good musicians like Matthew or listening to good music.
It would bring tears to his eyes and I always suspected that those tears were brought on from the rush of pleasant memories that music allowed him to reexperience.
I cherish that picture even more now.
I remember swelling with pride when I saw Matthew playing with Tom Waits on the Letterman Show and hearing of all of his musical accomplishments.
Matthew’s legacy of music will always allow his family and friends to reexperience their feelings for Matthew.
Music is eternal and so too are the individuals who create it, celebrate it and practice it
and Matthew was an orthodox practitioner of music.
My only regret is that time and distance kept Matthew and me from getting to know each other better.
However, the tributes on his memory website afford me the opportunity to get to know him better through his friends’ remembrances and messages of their sadness, their grief and their love for him.
As Emily Dickinson said, “my friends are my estate” and my cousin Matthew is blessed with one very large estate.

Ladies (and gents) who lunch

I stole George’s photos

Happy Hour ii recap.

Beth Delson

Stacia, Lila,
I am saddened and shocked to hear of Matthew’s death. I worked with him a bit at Virage and knew him as a kind and gentle soul. When I was expecting my child, Matthew shared a wonderful and warm happiness of the arrival of his daughter born a little before my son. He touched many people with his spirit and this lives on.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me for any reason(loving attentive babysitting for example).

Taina Karr

I had the incredible experience of playing in SEXO with Matt. Improvising was new to me and he always made me feel like I was welcome with his singular sense of humor. Matt had this contagious openness to everything which energized every experience with him. He gave so much of himself as a musician and as a human being. Years after SEXO, I ran into Matt again in the Seattle Creative Orchestra. There was that HUG like he had just seen you yesterday. My brief experience with Matt emphasized how alive he is. That’s how I will always think of him. Love and best thoughts to those closest to him, Stacia and Lila.

Eve & Russ Samet

Dear Stacia,
Our heartfelt sympathies go out to you and Lila. There are no words that can ease your pain, but it is evident how special Matthew was, and the wonderful loved you shared. May your memories of Matthew and your beautiful daughter give you the strength, support, and comfort you need to carry on. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

Joshua Kohl

Hey, to anyone involved in the concert on the 19th, I have a score that Matt composed for my group in around 95 that is rather improv based. it could be included and Id be more than happy to scan it and send it to anyone… we all really miss him up here (Seattle).


Elizabeth Carpenter

I met Matthew on a beautiful morning at Centrum where he was in residence composing his gems. Katy Keenan & I were taken into his wee cabin to chat and get to know this warm, talented, funny man. We scrambled about Centrum’s rusting and crumbling fort with me taking photos – one of which he used on a CD. His spirit and beauty shine in those photos. Whenever we’d run into each other on Cap Hill, he always was a great, sunny fellow with a good word for me. The last time I saw him, he came to my show at the Hop Vine and left a lovely note in my guitar case expressing encouragement before he left for San Fran. – I hope to find it amongst my crazy files of mementos.

The saddest part of this loss of course is to his family who I never had the pleasure of meeting. May you all take some comfort in how many lives he touched in such a wonderful way.
Goodbye, Matthew – Elizabeth Carpenter

Wolfgang Fuchs

When I returned from New York I received this horrible message that Matthew got killed in an accident. I met Matthew some years ago in Seattle to play together at ¬•Speakeasy¬•. We played a fine duet together. I met him again in Myles Boisen’s Studio when Gino Robair brought an interesting sextet together. I am proud that i was in it and could play also again with Matthew. He really had developed his stuff and it was very rewarding for me to work with him. His combination of: listening-playing was wonderful. One more of the great bassplayers is gone. He will be in my heart (and mind) forever.

Wolfgang Fuchs


I was incredibly shocked and saddened to hear about the loss of Matthew Sperry. I saw Hedwig many a time and had the pleasure of speaking with Matthew a few times after shows.
What a tragic moment in life.
My heart goes out to his wife and daughter, family and friends…you are all in my thoughts and prayers.

Randy Levandowski

Dear Stacia and Lila,

I met Matthew a few times through the East Bay Dads group. I did not know him well except as a kind man and caring father. As a father of a two year-old myself, I send my sincerest love and blessings to you both. Clearly Matthew touched so many lives, as witnessed by the outpouring of responses to this tragic event.

Sharon Weber

Dear Stacia and Lila,
Although we’ve not met, I am so very sorry for Matthew’s passing. Clearly, he was a unique and loving person – one who loved life in it’s fullness everyday. This love will always be with you, to give you and Lila strength and joy – nothing can remove it. You are in my heart and prayers, as are the rest of the family.
Love and Peace, Sharon Weber (cousin)



Marc Weinstein

May we all feel further empowered by living life in Matthews honor…be inspired & carry his daily beautiful message about life forth into the future. . .Play your A**ES off more than ever

and take him with you for the ride. Thank you Matthew for all the joy you obviously brought to so many people. Statia and Lila -> We are so sorry you have to endure this loss. . . It really, really, REALLY ISN’T FAIR…may you be surrounded by Love always.

Marc Weinstein

Jenn Javan

Dear Stacia,

I recall, seven years ago, when you and Laura and I were living in the house you and Matthew later came to buy from psycho Wanda. I remember you fed me all the time, and we talked for hour upon hour. And I remember meeting Matthew for the first time, and I was delighted by his spirit, and soothed and calmed by his presence. He was such a surprise to me, too, that he was not only an artist, but he was good with tools, and I remember laughing to myself when we were working on a project together… because I didn’t expect that from him, and I loved that mixture he had of gentle and wise.He made me feel at ease from the first moment he stepped foot in our flat. And then came Lila, and she brought out even more of that spirit that was felt by everyone he came in contact with. Stacia, I am thinking of you and Lila-

If you need anything, I am here. Love, Jenn

phil woodruff

i remember matt very well- he was one of the finest bass players ever in my opinion to come out of the united states-i have had the pleassure of not just knowing matt(although we had little contact after leaving seattle)but also working with and recording with matt.his pressence will surely be missed in a society that is becoming more and more pop oriented day by day-matt was truley a rare bird indeed!-

Jessie Breznau

Wow…awful to hear this. Matthew was an encouraging collaborator and sweet individual. We all will miss his beautiful spirit.

Skippy Dave Milford

What very sad news, and what very moving reading. Matt lived on the next block from me in 1995, up on Capitol Hill, and was always strikingly welcoming, enthusiastic, inclusive; one of those people who remind you, with a grand glint, that you exist. His warmth was at home and flourishing in every kind of music. On a bike, hit by a car; horrible yes, but also a saintly death in our epoch. Lonely are the brave.

John Gilbreath

I will remember Matthew’s generous creative spirit. I will remember his love of the music, and those, like him (like us) who believe in it.

harris eisenstadt

bassoonist sara schoenbeck, flutist ellen burr, vancouver bassist travis baker and i will be dedicating our june19 performance at pollstar in seattle to matthew. wish we could be in the bay area for what will surely be a beautiful memorial concert.

Mike Rizzi

I met Matthew once back in 1997, and still remember sitting on the floor of his small apartment in Seattle until 4 AM listening to records, drinking tea and chatting enthusiastically.

Even though my time with Matthew was brief, it is very clear that the world has lost one of the good ones.

Glenda Goff

Dear Family and friends of Matthew:

My sincere sympathies in the loss of Matthew. Although I hadn’t seen him in years, he grew up next door. It seems that a really nice kid grew into a wonderful man. You all are in my prayers.

Glenda Goff

Miami, FL

Registered and set up on birdhouse hosting. Very raw for now – design and lots more content coming. But posted immediately the call for witnesses and info on the upcoming memorial concert. The concert info has also gone out on PR News…

Jason Garoian

Matthew Sperry is a light shining from out of the darkness. The path of esoteric music is undefined, uneven. Sperry is the only one I’ve ever met who illuminated this path. He was able to piece things together in a way I would not have dreamed possible. For showing me this possibility, I will always be indebted. I love this man and will continue to do so forever. I go forth for the rest of my days fueled by Sperry power.

cathy bray

To Family and Friends of Matthew;

I cannot begin to tell you how sorry I am.

I did not have the good fortune of ever meeting Matthew (I sure wish I would have)

but I hear many wonderful stories about Matthew from his sister Estee. Estee always has wonderful, kind and loving words to say about her brother Matthew.I remember how proud Estee was of Matthew when he was on the David Letterman Show – She was so excited she brought the video tape of the show and shared it with my 2nd grade class.

She was so very proud.

Stacia and Lila my thoughts and prayers are with you.

Kind Hearts are the gardens;

kind thoughts are the roots;

kind words are the flowers;

kind deeds are the fruits.

(English Proverb)

Eleonor England

Stacia –

Wow. I can’t believe this. I only spoke with Matthew a few times. We met because we were going to use him for a show last year. He had said that he would have a problem making the rehearsals but that if we were really stuck and it came down to it that he would do it anyway. I was kinda blown away by that kindness he showed to us – total strangers. His demo had been so good and when he came over and was SUCH a sweet person and so kind. It really struck me that here was a person who embodied many of the finest qualities in people. I couldn’t believe it when I heard this news. I kept thinking – wrong Matt Sperry – he’s too young.

I am SO sorry about your loss. Such a wonderful and considerate human being and I can’t help but wish that I had known him better.



Stacey Barnum

Dear Stacia,Lila,Harriet, Pris, Gil,Estee,Sam, Bill,Randal and Kelly. The list goes on farther than I could ever know. I am so sorry for our families devastation. It is impossible to fathom how death can come so quickly to someone who seemed to have so much left to give. Everytime I think of Mathew I can only picture him with a huge grin. Im honored to have been married into his family. The way he affected and touched so many lives, either with music or friendship, he will be alive in us always. Im so sorry I couldnt be with all of you. I heard it was a magical event exactly the way Mathew would have wanted.I love you all, Stacey Barnum

Dee Cheshier

I read several of the previous postings and it amazes me how many lives he touched.

I know Matt from Seattle when he played with the iv bricoleurs and Black Cat Orchestra. Every time I arrived at a venue where he was playing, he always made a point to say hello with a deep sincere smile and we’d chat. I’ve never known such a sweet mellow guy to have such strong opinions.

He was one of these blessed persons who had the gift of living life to the fullest in following his dreams. My heart goes out to Stacia and Lila. I will never forget him.

Michael Pukish

Dear Stacia, Lila, Family and Friends of Dear Matthew Sperry,

I have had the priviledge, over only the last two years, of meeting, talking with, and playing and enjoying music together with Matthew. When I heard the news via email from a mutual friend last Friday, I was immediately chilled to the bone, shaken, and in true disbelief. Though Matthew and I have had only a handful of conversations together over recent years, I was so mortally saddened by the news.

I had the pleasure of playing one time last November with Matthew and Colin Stetson at some hidden bar in S.F., and we all had a blast. I also had several chances to enjoy playing with Matthew through Dan Plonsey’s and Moe!’s ensembles. Matthew was always so supportive and thoughtful. He was free with compliments, though he deserves so many himself, and he was always on the lookout for his fellow musicians — He had called me several times to let me know of various openings here and there. I distinctly thought of him spontaneously recently, and was worried that I had not had a chance to tell him how much I appreciated his thinking of me, and wished I could return the favor soon.

Matthew was the kind of person who, though being an impeccably skilled artist, had absolutely no agenda or scheme of hoops for people to jump through before he would give you all of his consideration and attention. That calm, smiling face was real, and it was immediately for you, setting you at ease, whoever you were standing in front of him. All this, and I was even more pleased to learn of his goofy side — not just observing his performance attire (such as the sequin-ish dress he wore for the “Jazz at Yoshi’s” Plonsey concert last September), but also reading of his various exploits herein this memorial. It all serves to leave me wanting to see him again, hear him play again, and consider myself lucky should I get to play along with him.

At this strange, maybe not so cheery time in politics-and-such when I, and I’m sure others may be assessing or searching for a stable “sense of community” and belonging, I must say Matthew has reminded me that in fact, there are real feelings of community which run so unexpectedly deep within our artistic relationships. Thank you, Matthew, for reminding me how lucky I am to be here and to know such wonderful people as yourself.

I’ll miss you, and wish you happiness and fulfillment wherever you are, and peace of mind and security for Lila and Stacia.


Mike Pukish

Larry Swanson

Dear Stacia:

I am so sorry I never got to know Matt better, just a couple of brief encounters at Steve & Dan’s (and Breitenbush??) but enough to have glimpsed the beautiful spirit everyone has written about. The thing I remember best about him is how much you loved him. You once went on about him through an entire massage exchange – I would normally have been annoyed, but I was just inspired your connection with him. My thoughts are with you and Lila.



Susan Stock

I feel very lucky to have known Matt for 21 years. I saw him last just a few months ago. We stood in a downtown park at dusk and watched our kids play. I hadn’t seen him in such a long time and I told him how incredibly happy I was to be with him. He responded with a hug and it was a moment of perfect joy of being with my friend. I have thought about that moment a lot over the last week, and of all the ways that our lives have intersected over the years. After not seeing Matt for so long, that visit felt like a reconnection. I am so shocked and saddened to realize that it was actually a final goodbye.

Oseh shalom beem’roh’mahv, hoo ya’aseh shalom, aleynu v’al kohl yisrael v’eemru: Amein

Trishia Ures

I met Matthew while going to Hedwig every weekend. The first show we went to, we saw some guy laughing out in the lobby, in the most ridiculous outfit I have ever seen. So we wandered to stand next to him, and eavesdropped our way into finding out he was a cast member. He was the first person to come onstage that night, and his smirk at the audience is my first memory of the show. I got to talk to Matt a couple times, and offstage, he was always smiling. A big, silly smile that just implied mischief. Matt’s rocking out at Hedwig is one of my favorite memories, and my heart goes out to his family and friends.

Jim Stapleton

I first saw Matthew perform a long time ago in Vancouver in ,I think, 1995 or earlier at a late night show at Studio 16. Whenever he played around Seattle I tried to go out to see him. He improved each time. I saw him at: The OK Hotel, Speakeasy, some bar across from the Comet Tavern, On the Boards and other venues. The last time I saw him, he had come up to Seattle to play and his wife had just had a child – I think he mentioned to me that he had gone to Germany with Trimpin.

I am really sorry to hear that he was killed in an traffic accident. He was one of the most talented and innovative musicians I have ever seen perform.

Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend the memorial to be held Sunday because I’ll leave for Vancouver that day to work on this year’s Jazz Festival.

I’ll let the people who he worked with in Vancouver know – (ie Francois Houle and Peggy Lee ).

He is already missed.

Ben Warren

Good gracious there’s a lot of entertaining to account for.

I knew Matt in Seattle mostly near the end of both our stays there. He and I had some duet, many too few, duet interactions (me dancing and very inspired), he introduced me to pearl noodles -and I loved his voice! At the moment, it is just the texture of his voice that comes to me with the most force. It was, to me, sing-song syrupy over a fine grain coarseness, playful, wallowing in the muck, searching for a direct connection or just a ride.

Matt was a beacon for me, too, of cariÒo, simple joyfulness, sharp creativity and explosive sharing. A beautiful beuatiful person. He introduced me to the awesome woman who actually unglued him from his Seattle life. Stacia, for what little we knew each other meeting you was a wonderful time for me. You both so thickly enthroned our interactions with charms of affection and open minds.

So, for a bunch of years, inside me, you have both had cushy chairs with open windows on my stuffing (oh, what a treat!). And you are always there, sitting and giggling or bouncing and frowning. And I’ve been helping myself to a stacia laugh with long-armed hug or a cheezy-hearted matt telling me again ‘thank you, sweetie’ just for passing the salt –whenever I want! I’m sorry, I guess you guys didn’t even know.

Good bye, Matt. Thank you, sweetie. I zoned to his music a few times..i mean it carried me or we went together there. One never knows, but I shared being delivered. That was only beginning to know him.

Something else that will stay is a certain edge he wielded -of annoyance I felt once, surprisingly and ashamedly, listening to him play. It annoyed me until I ended-up respecting its labor of love along with its edge that carved away in all directions. I had recently built a non-musician’s bridge between him and Jimmy Garrison (playing in Japan with Coltrane in 1966). But this time his creativity was completely unforgiving of a form that I could grasp. It ate concept. It refused to be extruded into even that loose, I thought, form of a bridge. My ears crashed against the relentlessness of change and I had to understand that I couldn’t understand, but only listen. A truly great place to be. Just one of his facets.

On Monday June 9, I memorialized my favorite subway escalator The Matt Sperry Ascension, because it seems to be built as an instrument with a Sperry edge, as if the metal casing were too small for the mechanism inside, which scrapes and groans and bangs as you ascend from under the earth.

So here I am 3 years in Spain. Anyone else here from the Matthew Sperry hug diaspora? Europe? I want to organize or be part of a musical event dedicated to matt here in Barcelona. MUSIC FOR SWEETIE. Spread the wealth of his inspiration. I am not a musician, but have a place where the concert and or rehearsals could happen. If anyone reading this is in my area of the world or knows a Matt-sweetie who is, please contact me for a hug, coffee and getting down to the music:

Ben Warren

650-794-045 (movil phone)


Kathy Short

My heartfelt sympathies to Stacia, Lila, and Matthew’s extended family. No parent should have to bear the sadness of outliving a child. Matthew was a good friend to my daughter; he and Stacia were there when she needed help and Rachel said she truly loved Matthew and his goodness. I was fortunate to have met Matthew and his family and the radiance surrounding him was obvious. He will live on in Lila, but that is such a small comfort. I am so sad for all of you who have lost a dear and extraordinary friend. Rachel’s mom


although I heard Matthew play music on many occasions and even played on the same stage with him a few times, I only had the pleasure of a few conversations with him, but on these occasions I felt instantly that he was very deeply a KIND person.

my heart goes out to his family, wife and daughter, and friends in this tragedy.

I was very moved by the many heartfelt words and musical communications at the memorial service.

peace to you.

Scott Douglas

There’s were a fair number of stories about Matthew and soup at the funeral on Monday. Here’s mine:

Stacia and CJ and I were putting together another one of our multi-religious Easter/Passover feasts. Matt came with all the makings of matzoh ball soup. He was frustrated though, because his matzoh balls kept sinking. He said his grandmother’s matzohs always floated. So he called her up and asked her what her secret was. She told him “just add a little baking soda.” His voice went up in disbelief and he said “but it’s PASSOVER” and she said “well, otherwise they sink.” He hung up looking like he’d just been told there was no…(wait…Jews don’t do Santa Clause or the Easter Bunny…)..ah! no Tooth Fairy. It was so funny to hear him go on in the kitchen muttering “add baking soda – harumph”.

My other wonderful food memory with Matthew was a Thanksgiving at our apartment in Olympia. Matt and Christie showed up with a huge bowl of mashed potatoes. Purple. Purple potatoes look really scary mashed and whipped. Kinda cool too, but that’s probably the Deadhead in me talking.

Comfort food will take on a whole new meaning for me: matzoh ball soup and purple mashed potatoes.

Vern Weber / SPOOL

I only had the pleasure of meeting Matthew twice – I wish it could have been more. He was an adventurous musical spirit who played music honestly, openly and with grace, qualities he so obviously embodied within himself after he put his bass down too. We are honored to be associated with him and his work through the release of 12 Milagritos. Our heartfelt condolences to his familiy, friends and the Bay Area musical community: all have lost someone precious.


Dearest Stacia and Lila…

By keeping beautiful Mathew in the light….he’s not gone…he’s everywhere…..



Tom Lewis


Scrolling these pages…we still hear you.


Many of Matthewís friends and family are trying to determine what happened the day Matthew died. If you are someone who was an eyewitness or know of someone who was an eyewitness at the scene (or who was driving by) on the morning of June 5th, please ask them to call (510) 594-8270 or e-mail at If you visit the memorial site and talk to people from the neighborhood, please get their names and phone numbers if they were eyewitnesses when Matthew got hit. Right now, no eyewitnesses have come forward and the family is struggling to piece together rumors, etc. It would be so helpful to the family to identify at least one person who saw what actually happened.

Thanks to all √Ī Julie Silas

Grayson & Kat

What the heart has once owned and had, it shall never lose.

óHenry Ward Beecher

We send our deepest sympathies. We just heard today from Erica.

Christie Triplett

After going to the wonderful service on Monday and reading these insightful, moving posts, I am inspired to provide my own “snapshot” of Matthew Sperry, human being extraordinaire.

I knew Matthew for thirteen years and for this I feel very lucky. When I met Matt, we were amused to find out that we were born a week apart and shared the same middle name. Soon, I learned we had much more in common than that. Matt became one of my best friends and I will think of him every day, as always.

When I think of Matt, I see him in motion; he had an incredible amount of energy and joie de vive. When I would visit Oakland to see him, Stacia and Lila, I would return home with a warm buzz that would last for days. I called him “Monkey Boy” because he reminded me of a baby monkey I saw once at a zoo – zooming around, leaping on the other monkeys and making everyone laugh and feel joy for how alive a creature could be. After hanging out with Matt and Stacia when they first got together, I thought “Monkey Boy has found Monkey Girl!” and I was so happy for them (now there is Lila, the mini monkey).

Though he was working full-time, married, had a new baby and new house, he continued to play his bass. This inspired me to keep painting, even when I felt like giving up. I remember going to museums with Matt and having to literally drag him away from works of art. I really think he would have stood there all day. Matt’s love of all of the arts reminded me of how important creativity is.

Matt introduced me to incredible music. When I met Matt, he was horrified to learn that I didn’t know who Charles Mingus was. Well, I’ve certainly made up for lost time and I’m not going to admit how many cds that Phil and I own. Matt introduced me to Ornette Coleman, Erik Satie, Tsuruta Kinshi and reminded me how much I like Kool and the Gang. Going to see Matthew perform was no less than a life-changing event and helped create my own obsession with music.

Matt also made it O.K. to be obsessed with food. We had so many great meals – falafel at Falafel King in L.A., the world√≠s tallest lemon meringue pie at the Rascal House in Miami, Native American bread made of blue corn and sheep’s brains in New Mexico, North Carolina barbeque (the woman at the counter laughed when she saw how much skinny Matt could put away). I mostly think of the last dinner we had at his house – catfish with a lime fish sauce, shared among friends.

I know these words have barely captured Matthew or what he meant to me, but I think it’s important to share our memories at this time. I never wanted to say this – Goodbye Monkey Boy.

Sheri Cohen

We met last night (tuesday) at 9:30 at Volunteer Park in Seattle. How many do you think? About thirty? Some lit candles which shone brighter as the night sky darkened. Lots and LOTS of stories. Photos of Matthew (I never saw the one of him naked with a frog before!). Some comforting silences. A little ambient salsa coming over the resevoir from a distance, and lots of airplanes overhead. Then Susie brought out her kelp horns and hum bows and the police chased us off around midnight. I met some new folks and saw some old friends. Some joined us in spirit from afaróMontana, Vancouver, Ashland. Lots of love for Matt, Stacia and Lila, and even some for the driver of the truck, may she, too, heal.

Michael Monhart

Matt and I had a very nice trio together with Ed Pias here in Seattle during the early 90s. I loved playing with him; he was a great player, sensitive, with his own strong voice and I really enjoyed both his openness toward exploring new music as well as his down-to-earth attitude of just have fun with a groove. That was an expression of his personality, open, generous, exploratory and rooted in companionship with friends. My heart and prayers are with you, his family.

estee-daryl smith (sperry)

My dear sweet baby brother Matthew,

I√≠m writing this letter to you, to tell you how much having you in my life has meant to me. Seeing you last month and spending time together was so joyous for me. I love just hanging out with you, and talking, and laughing √Ė

You have always been so easy to talk to about everything, itís so easy being myself around you, you make it easy.

I loved sharing my new talent for massage with you, which by the way, it is thanks to you and Stacia√≠s inspiration that I was able to make it through massage school. It was pure pleasure for me to see your satisfied smile while I got your chi flowing. You have always been so supportive of me. I have always been a √¨giver√ģ with the hardest time feeling worthy of √¨receiving√ģ, yet with you, I was always able to embrace YOUR GIFTS, your love, support, tenderness, caring √Ė the ALL that is you.

Whenever I look into my Madisonís eyes, I see you, her Uncle Matthew. She is so much like you, so creative and musical, so giving and full of love and life. I only wish she could spend more time with you, more time to be mentored by you.

Matt, you always make me feel loved. I am the proudest sister ever. I am in constant awe of you, always gloating. I feel young with you. You make me a better person. Whenever I am around you, I feel shiny, I feel so happy after we talk on the telephone or if I read a letter or get a tape from you. You will always be perfection to me. You also have the ability to neutralize me whenever I feel irrational. I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to be your sister. Your friend. I cherish everything, every time, everywhere that is You.

I cannot, I will not let you go from my life. You will never be from my thoughts or my heart. I will always be there for you, and Stacia and Lila, my family.

As usual your big sister is rambling on and not able to end this conversation. I guess you gotta go now.

I love you Matthew. Thank you for everything, your hugs and smiles are way awesome! I love and miss you sooooooo much. See you soon cutie.

Love, your Big Sis Estee


Matt Brubeck

I am still struggling to come to terms with the loss of Matthew and wish I had been in town to attend the memorial service. I didn’t know him very well or for very long, but the time we spent together was always good. I am very thankful for those times, whether it was free improvisation at Myles’ studio in Oakland or waiting around Letterman’s freezing studio in New York talking about our kids.

I wish he was still with us: Pocahontas hair, dresses, what a beautiful sound, what a great life force.

Our warmest healing thoughts to Stacia and Lila. If there is anything Diarmid and I can do to help, please let us know.

Sheila Nuzzolo

Dear Matthew,

This is your Aunt Sheila. I just returned from California. My heart is broken. You are loved by so many people. I went to your funeral. It was the most beautiful service. You would be very proud of your Mom. She knew how much you loved the Chapel of the Chimes. I understand why. The music was incredible! She loves you so much. She adores Stacia and Lilah. Matthew, I know you are still here in spirit. Please watch over your Mom. She needs you.

We will never forget you,

From delusion lead me to truth

From darkness lead me to light

From death lead me to eternal light

Hindu prayer

Love forever Aunt Sheila


Just when I think I am finishing with the tears, more memories of Mathew surface and there they are again, as unpredictable in their timing as the quarky creativity of his personality and the many ways he gave. I just found a very old letter addressed to: LEMON MALICE R.N. (my name rearranged)


Andrew Smith


Perhaps the one memory that stands out in my mind is the first time I met you at Ontario, the smile on your face as you and Stacia walked towards me followed by the much talked about hug. No introduction was necessary.

It seems in such a short time I have so many memories of you, several experienced but many hundreds more spoken of so proudly by Estee. I could never feel more proud than when you called and simply said “hey brother-in-law”. It means so much to be part of your family. Although Estee is deeply saddened, you can rest knowing that I will take good care of her Matthew.

Your brother-in-law

bhagvad margeeta

Margit here, in Brooklyn. I came back from Oakland late last night. The chance to meet so many of Matt and Stacia’s family and loved ones and to be a part of the ritual of the funeral has been impressively moving. I’m getting yet another piece of the lessons to be learned from the incredibly elusive and painful truth of matt in his death. They were so obvious, those lessons, in my admiration and constant learning in his living. So now, death.

I keep on thinking of Matt’s particular brilliant goofiness and freakdom. It came out in word games and all the places he loved to share and a forever clear and unique point of view. His art was pervasive, and therefore always will be, through the eternal flame of memory and shared stories.

Yesterday, in Oakland, I dove through some old letters and upturned this, an excerpt from one that he wrote upon return from a month-long residency on the Olympic Peninsula. In it, he addressed me as “Bhagvad Margeeta” and the “Galanter Gourmet,” and upon reading this yesterday, transfixed at the humor and heart, i was granted some new tags. Whatta guy!

Here’s the quote:

“Can I say enough good things about my time at Fort Warden? Probably not. It was an entirely useful experience. I’m deciding right now on a theory, like so: You can accelerate the pace at which you gain experience or absorb knowledge, but not without a price. That price is the slowing down, the atrophy, of some other aspect of your existence. This consequence is neither wrong nor right, i would think. The devil is not lurking in the afterlife: the devil is TIME. A finite system of credit we must use up on a very strict schedule, whether we want to or not…”


much love


I remember a yuletide party at Scot’s where Matthew came laden w/ CDs (“the charlotte mix”) he had burned as presents. I was touched to receive one and when I heard it I was simply blown away.

Until Matthew, I had never met anyone else who listened to Burmese Orchestral Music, first introduced to me by a mysterious woman I met on a seemingly endless Amtrak journey from the Northwest.

So much else besides! I had never heard such sounds in my life. Hans Reichel’s bowed voices, Dinastia Hidalguense’s Mexican Huastecos, and Jaap Blonk (!?!!?). Of course, there was a piece from Matthew, the evocatively titled “taking of the oyster bra”. I never took the opportunity to properly express my appreciation, nor ask, who in the world is Wu Wen’ Guang?

Who has such big ears? My gosh!

Walking through Julia Morgan’s

Chapel of the Chimes’ Columbarium

after the memorial

the array of gardens

and fountains

stairwells and cloisters

stained glass

and light

is so very beautiful

and the many urns shaped

like great copper books

room after room

of vaulted majesty

a feeling of endlessness

like out of an unwritten

Borges story:

“upward beyond

the onstreaming

it sunned”




I am heart broken. Matthew shines. At Uncle Bob’s wedding, I sat at the same table with Matthew and Stacia and I remember talking about how important it was for us to keep the family glued since we were the next generation of Cousins. I wish I had the opportunity to spend more time with him and Stacia over the last couple of years. My whole family is in my thoughts… all the people who were connected to Matthew, it breaks my heart. I am deeply sorry for his loss.

Love, (Cousin) Elke

Zak Borovay

I knew Matthew through his cousin Marna. From the very first moment that I met him, I felt like he accepted me into his life like a family member… and it felt really good to be a part of his family. We went out to dinner after his Letterman performance with Tom Waits. As a fellow bassist, I think we hit it off quickly and I definitely felt a secret spiritual kinship that can only be shared between bass players.

Marna and I stayed with Stacia, Lila and Matthew for a few days last summer. One morning, before Marna and Stacia were awake, Matthew made some scrambled eggs, which he, Lila and I all shared. In complete silence, we ate right off the plate with our hands (which I think was Lila’s preferred eating method at the time). It was one of the most beautiful experiences I have ever witnessed and/or participated in. It may have been just a father and a daughter sharing some food, but there was something magical about the silence and the look of understanding Matthew and Lila shared as they ate.

After seeing him perform in Hedwig last December, he gave Marna and I a ride back to our hotel. I told him how much I had enjoyed the show, but how uncomfortable I was due to the fact that my Dad had just had to have heart bypass surgery. Matthew couldn’t have been more compassionate. But in addition to just listening, he also shared an experience he had and injected some much-needed humor into the story too.

To me, that what Matthew was all about: he didn’t just listen (although he was great at it), but he cared about what I was saying and tried his best to relate to it, no matter how familiar he was with the experience. And while he was doing that, he knew how to make you feel good too. No wonder he was such a great bass player!!

Wherever he is right now, I think he is giving all of us one of his trademark giant bear hugs, squeezing us all soooo tightly and bringing us all closer together.

Thanks, man!

Gwen Faulkner

I only had the opportunity to meet Matthew briefly when he visited his mother in Colorado a few years ago. Even on first meeting him, you could sense the wonderful spirit he possessed. Harriet, his mom, speaks so often of all her kids and grandchildren that many of us that work with her feel we know the whole family. Hearing the news of Matthew’s passing last Thursday was truly devastating.

After reading all the beautiful tributes on this site, it is evident that Matthew was a very special man. If the world was full of Matthew’s…imagine… what a wonderful earth this would be. All of us should follow Matthew’s lead in being loving, giving, spirited and just… being like Matthew!

My love and prayers go out to all who know and love Matthew and his family.

Scott Douglas

Oh Stacia, sweetie! If you are strong enough to post here, how can I dare do less? I miss him. I miss you, though having hugged you mere hours ago. People kept asking me this weekend, “how did you know Matthew?” What to say? In one word: “well.” And in so many more words…how to describe the interweavings of the last twelve years? Of your life and his life and my life and the lives of our friends?

I knew him well. I knew him well…Always, always here and there and everywhere for you!

Love, Scott

estee-daryl smith (sperry)

Hi…I just really wanted to thank everyone..I mean everyone who has loved my little brother and has taken time to write such incredible thoughts and feelings here for all to read. I also want to thank all the incredible wonderful people whom I met over the last few days…people who have come up to me and my family and have embraced us with their open heavy hearts…people who have taken care of Stacia and lila…people who will always be there for My Family. I cannot express the overwhelming joy of love and hugs…through all my sadness, thanks to all of you…I am able to understand more about my brother and more about myself. I am so unbelievably sad, my grief at sometimes, uncontrollable. I have so many memories from baby, to boyhood, to teenager to man and every one of them wonderful in its own special way. Being his sister meant being his rock, yet he somehow found a way to take over that position and become mine. My husband and I just got home from an 8 hour drive (from Oakland) and I just could not wait to get online and read and write and thank and share. I have more I’d like to share, but I am shaky and tired and want to collect my thoughts. I do want to ask a favor of anyone out there who may have some video or photo footage of my brother, or of any music recording they may want to share with me and my family. I am not only the auntie to Lila, but a mother to Madison, matt’s neice and want so much to share more of Matthew’s life and love of music with these children. I regret terribly not taking my daughter to see Hedwig last month when I went and want to have something more for her as well as other members of our family. She just started to play guitar and I as well as her, was looking so forward to having Matt somehow guide her through….what can I say…perhaps he still can…I hope he can…I know it is possible. I love knowing how much he touched so many people..i love knowing and continuing to find out how much he was loved. I loved him …..i love him. I love you Stacia…you make him shine even more and my sweet luscious Lila…you are an you little face I am able to see your dada’s future….thank you Stacia for giving us all that and more…thank you for making Matthew the happiest man on this planet…you will be my sister forever. If anyone should have anything they want to share with me I can be reached at….I just wanted everyone to know how grateful I am to you.

love , peace and big matthew hugs to all of you.

be careful out there

love, matt’s big sis

LaVaun Cavarra

My deepest and sincere sympathy in the loss of your very special loved one.

stacia biltekoff

my heart, shattered to pieces is being warmed by the sentiments on this site. i want to thank you for posting here and for everyone who spoke and played at the service. i’m so in need of community right now and i’m trying to learn to reach out the way matthew did. please stop by my house this week. i’m sitting shiva (like an open house) until sunday. even if i dont get a chance to really talk to you when you are here it comforts me that you are present. we all need to grieve together, supporting each other-its how matthew would have wanted it. much love-stacia and lila

Randy Porter

I too am shocked by this horrible news. You just felt better when you were around Matthew. My heartfelt sympathies go out to Stacia and Lila. What a great loss to our community.

Michael Arrow

What a pleasure and privilege it has been to play music with Matthew. We met shortly before he was married to Stacia, and actually auditioned our Klezmer band for their wedding. To our delight, we found that he also played bass, and was looking to join a wedding band. After listening to us, he hired us. Playing weddings, we generally let people request a few songs for us to learn. Of all the popular songs to pick from, Matthew requested one that few of us even heard of. It was “Mais Que Nada” by Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66, about as far stylistically from Klezmer as possible! (I guess he never even imagined other musicians weren√≠t as eclectic as he was.) Soon after the request was made, Matthew auditioned for the band, and after playing for about five minutes we knew he was the one for us. We never did get around to learning the song, and though disappointed, Matthew never really got on our case about it–he accepted our limitations, made perhaps only a few sarcastic remarks, and was never brought up again.

He was always full of surprises. In May my wife and I lucked out and got complimentary tickets to Hedwig. After seeing him perform on stage the finest evening of flat-out, kick-ass rock and roll, done up in glam rock attire, full of angst and attitude, when the show was over it was so refreshingly back in his true character to find him happily waiting for his friends at the exit doors collecting donations, grinning ear to ear, still sweaty from the show, genuinely thrilled to see us, and happily giving out hugs all around in that punk vest and mascara. He hadnít played with our band in a while, and was looking forward to performing at The Mandolin Festival later in May, though he would have to leave early to play again with Hedwig in the evening. That was the last time he played with us, and was probably the best our band had ever sounded. Being a drummer, playing music with Matthew was pure joy. He was always locked in on the beat, yet amazingly creative within the structure of the music. Able to clearly communicate non-verbally and effortlessly where the music should go, never playing exactly the same thing twice, but letting the song dictate what it would become. One of the highlights for me when he played was when it was time for a bass solo. To match technical ability with his creativity and musicality always made me wonder why he was playing with our band! As long as Matthew was playing with us, there were never any train wrecksómaybe a little sloppy around the edges, but as far as the bass was concerned, he always put the notes right where they belonged and helped us all play together as a tighter ensemble.

Yesterdayís beautiful memorial made me feel that many also share the same feelings of gratitude because we knew him.

Dallas Davidson

I had the good fortune of working with Matthew for two years. For a time, our desks at Virage sat just a few feet apart. The fond memories of Matt are many . . . but what I’ll remember most was his laugh – that rich, full-bodied guffaw. His sense of humor, much like his taste in food and music, was sophisticated and finely honed. A boisterous laugh from Matt could be read as a sure sign that something special and original was afoot. He laughed with a remarkable amount of intelligence, sincerity and joy. Thank you, Matthew. I am so lucky to have known you.

Stefanie Marici

Dear Matthew,

I wish that never happened. We all miss you. Me and my Mom were crying when my mom tried to tell me. When I saw you in New York in central park and you rode my scooter you were going to play the cielo. I had a lot of fun. If you were here I would like to see you next holiday.


Stefanie Maricic, Matthews 8 yr. old cousin


Nicole Nuzzolo

Dear Matthew,

I love you! We all miss you and love you. The last time I saw you we went to the kids museum. I had a wonderful time with you, Stacia and Lila. You made me feel special. I wish you were here to see how big I got.

We will love you forever!

Nicole Nuzzolo 10 years old, Matthews cousin

Steve Kirk

My experiences with Matthew were limited, but his positive energy, enthusiasm and cheerful demeaner were wildly infectious. His passing is genuinely tragic and shocking. He was and is an exceptionally talented musician, father,husband and human being.

Hae Yuon Kim

I was out of town when my husband told me the tragic, unbelievable news. Matthew, Stacia and Lila live next door to us on 49th Street. I didn’t know him well in the conventional sense. We lived our lives side by side, saying hello as we went to our cars, chatting on the street when we got home, sitting on the front steps together watching our babies grow.

Over time I learned that he was a musician. I regret so much not having seen him perform… I never imagined that the chance would not come again.

I learned more about Matthew at his memorial service yesterday. My gut feeling of him being a truly exceptional person was confirmed by all those who knew him better than I did. I am so sad that I won’t get to know him better. I am devastated that Stacia has lost her mate and Lila her dear father.

Matthew went by me on his bike on Wednesday. He flashed a big smile and called out “Hi Hae!” as he rode past, so full of life and joy. How can he be gone?

Today I went to the corner where he died. HIs beautiful spirit is so apparent from the makeshift shrine erected there by his family and friends — notes and flowers taped to a no parking sign, more flowers and candles at the foot of the pole. I talked to several people who came by — they didn’t know Matthew, but they had been there on Thursday and wanted to know more about him, look at the shrine.

Going there made Matthew’s death more real to me, but I am still not ready to accept it. I want to scream and yell, no! this can’t be!


I hadn’t known Matthew for very long since he had left the company shortly after I had joined. Before leaving for the Bay Area, he visited the office, and pointedly took the time to sit down and chat with me for a while, even though we were barely aquainted.

I still remember that conversation, as well as the image of him cooking lunch in the company kitchen everyday, filling the office with aromas that made everyone hungry…

eric boyer

reading through all of these heartfelt memories of matthew, i’m reminded of what a truly special person he was. along with his ability to be the consummate musician, he had such a warm and engaging personality that you always wanted to be around. i was fortunate enough to have him perform on my radio show on several occasions. and when coordinating a music festival i was involved with, we always joked that matthew was going to be on stage almost the entire time because everyone wanted him in their ensemble. i hadn’t spoken to him for several years, but i saw his name on recordings or concert listings and knew he was making magic happen and bringing people together. he will certainly be missed dearly.

my deepest sympathies go out to you, stacia and lila.

Anna Marks

I am Matthew’s cousin, through “marriage”. My partner’s father and Matthew’s grandmother were brother and sister. Julianne and I have lived in Oakland for 16 years — she from Montreal and myself from NYC. Neither of us have relatives nearby, so when Stacia and Matthew moved into the neighborhood, we were thrilled.

We were there when Lila was born, it was the most moving experience which we will cherish forever.

The three of them were over our house a week ago Saturday. It was a beautiful afternoon and we barbecued some veggie burgers. Matthew was joyfully playing with Lila. Lying down, he held her on his chest, her little hands on his face, rough from a day or two without shaving. I feel blessed to have the memories of such wonderful times with them.

Lindsay Morrison

Dear Matthew,I remember the good times we had together going to Young at art, my neighborhood pool,and dancing to Disney tunes with Staicia,Lila,Niki,Alyssa,and I.Also,when I played Spanish guitars,and part of my Fandango(I learned the whole piece now.)I miss you tons and tons of tons.Tears are pouring out of my eyes so much,I think I could fill ten milk jugs.Well I guess now you can see Mojo.(remember him?)Remeber to play fecth with him o.k.I love you and miss you.Love your cousin(or neice)Lindsay.

Kevin and Claudia Bell

Claudia, Dylan and I are deeply saddened to receive the news of Matthew’s passing. Our prayers are with Claudia’s cousin Stacia and of course with Lila. Although I only had a limited number of opportunities to spend time with Matthew, he was clearly a very special individual with a loving soul, a seemingly endless artistry and an effervescent sense of humor. Two memories of my time with Matthew and and the Sperry / Biltekoff families stand out -the first being Stacia and Matthew’s wedding, which was a uniquely warm event that their extended family and friends all felt a special part of, and the second was of the Garfinkel family party last year, which unfortunately Matthew was unable to attend, where I watched our daughter Dylan and her cousin Lila dressed up and dancing around together to the delight of all present.

Reading through the other messages here, it is abundantly clear that Matthew deeply touched each person that he befriended. I am sorry that I did not have the chance to get to know Matthew better, but I will treasure my memories and share them with Lila as she grows up so that she is always reminded of her father’s special place in the hearts and minds of family and friends.

I hope that Stacia and Lila can take some comfort in knowing that they were blessed by their time with Matthew and that he will watch over them with a smile and a song. As a father, I hope that his spirit, vitality and love continue to be expressed through Lila and that her life will pay tribute to his memory.

Amongst the chaos of the world we all share, it is tragic that events such as this are often the only catalyst to force us to evaluate what really matters and take time to be grateful for those things.

Kevin Bell

Noah Mickens

I wish to express my condoloences to the family and friends of Matt Sperry, a dedicated artist and craftsman whose part in the Left Coast music revolution was cut short in the second act. Though I didn’t know him personally, his name and his legacy are known to all of us who toil away on the Great Work; and we will continue this Work till we all find White. See you when we get there, Mr. Sperry.

5000. – N.

Reuben Radding

I will never forget Matt’s warmth towards me when I moved to Seattle in the mid ’90’s. He was the top bassist in town and rather than show even the tiniest amount of competitiveness, he was hugely supportive and treated me like an old friend before 3 minutes went by. We were not close but I considered him a friend and even recently when I traded emails with him his kindness and generosity came through. I loved his playing and his spirit and am in great shock at the tragedy of this loss to the world.

Reuben Radding

Ryan Farris

I was actually just talking about Matt Sperry a couple nights ago just after playing a music festival in Oregon. After I met and became friends with him, I asked him to be my upright bass teacher. He helped me pick out my upright, loaned me his extra bow for an indefinite period of time, and above all inspired me to be an amazing bass player, like him. When I was dirt poor, he didn’t even charge me for one of the lessons! I felt lucky and extremely appreciative to have someone of that calibur teach me how to play the upright. He definitely made a big impact on my life, as he did for scores of people that were lucky enough to meet and befriend him. I will continue to send out my best wishes for his family, whom I never had a chance to meet, and I will grieve his death for some time.

Matt, I love you.


Ellen Fullman

Matthew Sperry was one of the first people I called when I moved to Seattle in 1997. He knew of my work and let me know how excited he was about it and told me he wanted to play in my band right then, on the phone without even meeting me. There was an openning in the co-op house that he lived in and because of him I was able to live in an expensive city in low-cost housing. Not only that, it was fun living in the same house with him. It took a year for me to get the finances together to rent a rehearsal space, but Matt was right there, still enthusiastic to be in my band. He played the bass octave, of course.

The installation process of my instrument has been a real ordeal, long tedious hours. Pieces of wire and wood are coaxed and tweaked until finally it becomes a musical instrument. One gig I did with Matt was particularly a burn-out, but I always get privately really excited when I sense that moment when it all becomes musical and resonant- this makes it worth it to me. I knew Matt felt the same way because after working really hard, he still had the enthusiasm to hold his arms out towards the bass resonator and say, “Come to Papa” (!) (Sorry Lila, but this was before you were born!) He made my instrument sound good. Matt had a feeling for the resonance of strings.

Two weeks ago I was making plans to visit the bay area for a weekend to check-out an opportunity that I have to move there. I called Matt and Stacia to make plans for a date. I spoke to Stacia on the cell phone since Matt was driving. She relayed messages between us. He asked me if I moved to Berkeley if he could be in my band. I told Stacia to tell him he had a lifetime membership. I heard him laugh. He made me feel so good, I was so happy that he still wanted to play in my band. Our date never happened, but I was glad to be there to go to Matt’s memorial service.

Whlie riding back home in the airport shuttle an older man sat beside me and said he was going to Capitol Hill. I was curious that such a conservative-looking older man was living in the most hip Seattle neighborhood. It turns out he was a priest who has spent the last 15 years in Latin America working for the rights of children. He said the only two nations in the U.N. who have not signed the international charter for the rights of children are the U.S. and Somalia. I felt this man was some kind of messenger from Matt. We drove past Seattle University, a Catholic college, and I told him about St. Ignatius chapel and how it is famous architectural landmark. Then I remembered I found out about it through Matt, who organized a group of us to go look at this chapel.

Then I remembered that Matt introduced Malay Satay Hut to his friends. Ever since I have taken special people there and I refer to it as, Malay Satay Hut, Matt Sperry’s favorite restaurant.

Elena Comens

I never met Matthew. Matthew was my cousin. But while his mother lived in Florida, I lived in New York. Years after his mother moved to Colorado I moved to Florida. I was with his grandparents when the terrible news came. My heart felt like lead knowing so well the pain that follows. I also lost a young son some years ago and I know that feeling of disbelief. Perhaps I will wake up from the bad nightmare. All those feelings kicked up in me the night I sat with Matthew’s granparents. After reading your heartfelt condolences, the many, many of you, I want to leave you with this. This is for Matthew and all his friends….

Those who bloom in the hearts of others never fade away.

The sea recedes behind bright jewels in the sand.

May you cherish the beautiful memories forever.

Lisa Tracy

Stacia & Lila, I am a neighbor of yours, have only met you a few times, and met Matthew for the first and last time at the Emerson school clean up a few weeks ago. I am so incredibly saddenned by your loss. I just want you to know that the wide web of love, compassion and sharing of grief is much larger than you know. I only wish this wide web could spare you some of the pain you face, yet I know it cannot. I only hope it will make the road ahead a little less forbidding. My one and only meeting with Matthew revealed the sweet incredible soul that he was. He was diligently and devotedly working on the flower garden for the Emerson kids, smiling his beautiful smiles and exchanging warm “hello’s” with all. He was truly a person present in the moment and present to those around him. I found myself wondering why we’d never met him before, thinking “what a nice guy” and how we’d like to hang out with you all. And I chuckled and marvelled at the incredible and sometimes irritating sweetness of love, when you, Stacia and Lila, arrived to find him still working on those “damn flowers.” I smiled at you, Stacia, and laughed to myself, having been in your shoes with my partner many times, being irritated by the very things that made your Matthew such a wonderful human being, the things that drew you to him. I could see the deep connection and understanding between you, the juxtaposition of irritation and love that almost always shows up with real relationship. I liked you both immensely in that moment, showing your humaness and your selves and your love. That love, so apparent, so real and strong, will stay with you always, Stacia and Lila. As you face this immense grief, you are blessed by being surrounded by family and friends, but always know there is even more support and compassion here around the corner, literally, on Manila Avenue. With deepest sadness and compassion, Lisa Tracy & family

ongoing rambling...

Matthew Sperry

I’m finding it hard to accept the fact that my friend Matthew is gone. It truly makes me realize how precious my family, friends, and life are to me. After attending the beautiful service they had for Matthew today, I…

alis brown

Stacia my sweetness, I wrap my love around you and Lila as you always have for me. You and Matthew opened my eyes, opened my heart and touched the lives of Venus and I with your endless love, compassion, and friendship. We are here for you and Lila every single step of the way. Thank you for bringing Matthew Sperry into my life.


Sudhu Tewari

I talked to Matt the night before he left us. He was getting on his bike and stopped to talk before he rode away and I’m honored that he did. He cared about things no one else cared about, the little things in front of us every day that we forget easily. I never got to know him as well as I could have, but we talked comfortably and memorably together when we did, he felt like a real friend. One whole week I burst into smile every time I saw him, he asked why, I had some response about seeing him as his Hedwig character at work, but I think really it was just him. He deserved a big smile for just being himself.

L. Jim McAdams

I organized the very first Olympia Experimental Music Festival in 1994, which Matt played at with Phil Gelb and Christian Asplund. I was very sad to hear of his death. He was a wonderful musician, and an extremely upbeat and friendly guy. He shall be missed. I am requesting that this years 9th Annual Olympia Experimental Music Festival have some sort of dedication in his honor.

Scott McArthur

I had the honor to become a friend of Matt’s through Susan Lacritz. Matt and Susan had known eachother from high school days in Miami. Matt and I were roommates and played in a band called Grecian Formula 69 while in school at FSU. Those who knew Matt will smile in knowing that one of the fondest memories I have of him was when he once wore a dress on stage for a gig. As I recall,

there was the usual tension present among certain

members of the band, and Matt had the perfect remedy. I can only echo all of the other sentiments others have already expressed. Matt was truly a unique individual; one of the warmest, funniest most talented people I have ever met. We lost touch after he moved West. We reconnected via the internet when Matt became a father. I remember the pictures he e-mailed and how proud he was. I was thrilled when I got to see Matt play with Tom Waits on Letterman. The impact Matt had on so many people, both musically and personally, doesn’t surprise me. I am a richer person in so many ways for having shared a portion of my life with Matt.

Tom Djll

There is perhaps nothing as heartbreaking as an unfinished life.

I had just received and sat down to have a first listen to a recording session Matthew and I participated in just a couple of weeks ago, when I received the news. NO NO NO, I thought, my mind collapsing. It really can’t be true! This isn’t happening, not here, not now, not to THIS person, this beautiful guy, fantastic musician, loving father.

Matthew Sperry was one of those all-too-rare beings, a force for goodness and light. His passing is tragic, inconceivable, unfair, unbearable–I can only echo the words of so many who have already put their voices to record here.

Yet, after witnessing the beautiful memorial service in Matthew’s honor today, it occurs to me that only a life as lived by Matthew–loving, open, spontaneous, creative, intelligent and warm–could have brought so many people together and engendered such an overwhelming feeling of humanity and all the emotions it contains.

As Matthew’s father so movingly said today, Matthew was his role model. I would add, he is a role model for ALL of us, of a way to truly live life to the fullest extent, always seeking the greater good and the highest joy, with an open heart and compassion and a bearhug for everybody. Even in the deepest throes of tragedy, he can teach us this.

All the same, I will miss him terribly. My heart goes out to his close friends and family.

Judi & Peter Biltekoff

Dearest Stacia and Lila: Words cannot express our feelings of sorrow and disbelief. Stacia, as we witnessed your wedding, we could tell that Matthew was not only the love of your life, but your closest friend and soulmate.We still smile at the memory of you looking at Matthew with a big smile and sighing, “Oh Matthew” as though you had just then realized how wonderful he was and how much you were meant for each other. Hopefully time may ease some of your pain as you focus on the beauty that you shared during your lives together. Remember that Matthew will always be watching over you and Lila.

Cousins Judi and Peter Biltekoff

Faith Luber

I never had the pleasure of meeting Matthew, but I heard about him from my teenage son. David was a frequent audience member and usher for Hedwig. He told me about how “awesome” everyone related to the production was. And he told me about Matt. And he told me about Matt’s PANTS! David coveted those pants–the black and yellow leather patches laced together–in Hedwig. So, of course I noticed Matt right away onstage, because who could miss those pants?

David loved the whole cast and crew, even though he hadn’t known them very long. But he got to hang with them a little after a few of the shows, and he went to the cast party on closing night. He came back raving about everyone, especially Kevin and Matt. David said that at that last party, he’d mentioned to Matt that he really wished he could have sung with the band, and Matt told him he wished he’d known, because he would have had David sing with them during sound check. David thought that extraordinarily kind–obviously one of Matt’s greatest strengths, according to all of these tributes.

David dragged me to Hedwig for Mothers’ Day. He insisted I would love it (which, of course, I did). It was his Mothers’ Day gift to me. And it really WAS a gift–I wished that I had seen it more than once. And now I’m so glad that I got to see and hear Matt play, if only that one time. And though I did not get to meet any of them, I did see Matt with Stacia and that beautiful little girl after the show.

Reading through all these wonderful memories and thoughts from Matt’s friends has left me in tears. I know how much knowing Matt has meant to my son. Obviously, he was a very special and talented person, with very special and talented friends (judging from their writings here alone). I truly believe his spirit will always be with everyone whose life he touched–and that is a lot of people. He will always be with and watch over Stacia and Lila.

I don’t even know how to end this, so I will just say Shalom (Peace).

Faith Luber

Trey Hatch

I haven’t seen Matthew for 4 or 5 years, since I left Seattle to move to New York, but I still remember his huge grin, his warm hugs, his amazing playing, his goofy sense of humor and, more than anything, the amazing amount of enthusiasm he had for his art, playing music that was not widely appreciated or even heard. I remember watching and listening with awe as he tirelessly explored, and then mastered, every possible sound that could be coaxed from his bass, and I am not surprised, years later, to read of the success and recognition he had as a musician in more recent years. I am even less surprised to hear of his accomplishments in so many other realms, as a father, and such a dear friend to so many.

When I first met Matthew, it was 1993 or 1994 and I was working as a music journalist in Seattle, covering the avant-garde music scene as best as an untrained non-musician with curiosity and enthusiasm for the music could. I remember him playing in so many different groups and settings, usually for small, awed audiences, at the Penny University, the Speakeasy, the OK Hotel, and remember how much fun it was to get to know him off stage. I count Matt among the most inviting guides I encountered in the scene – his love of what he was doing was truly infectious, even to non-musicians, and his music was so convincing and moving. I am greatly saddened by his loss, but most of all because of what an incredibly warm and good person he was.

The world is in dire need of more people like Matt, not less – how many people are contributing so much to our spiritual growth by adding such creative and high quality art to the world, and also at the same time, besides their creative contributions, managing to brighten the day of every single person they meet with pure warmth, humor, generosity and love? So few, and now one less.

Stacia and Lila, I haven’t met either of you but I am thinking about you constantly right now, wishing you strength, support and love.

Jon Silvers

I met Matthew while working at Virage. I cannot say enough what an upbeat, honest, and nice person he was. He was an inspirational artist and wonderful individual. I wish his family the best during these hard times.

eric glick rieman

I was saddened to hear the news of Matthew’s death. I’d only just met him, but he seemed like such a great person. We shared a love for the experimental muse, as well as knowing many of the same people in the experimental music community. It was a joy to watch him play.

My thoughts are with you, Stacia and Lila.


Dave Madole

I’ve known Matt since the late eighties and early nineties in Tallahassee. If I remember correctly, my first contact with him was when he took over six-bass duties in a steel band. He was a much better six-bass player than I was. Around that time, we did Tenney’s “Beast” together, scattering beats around some concert hall there; it was an enjoyable collaboration.

I was always very happy to see him when he’d come down to visit the Bay Area from Seattle, and then very happy when he finally moved down here. I remember, when he visited, the way he’d smile broadly and look away when I pounced on every excuse he’d begin to offer for not moving to the Bay Area. He was a delightful person and seemed always to be smiling. Although I’d kind of lost touch through the music scene, I ran into Matt, Stacia and Lila, also both delightful, sometimes on Piedmont Ave. I think one of these impromptu meetings was the last time I saw him. He appeared to be thriving in every way.

This is just one of those painful things that doesn’t make any sense.


Kevin Goldsmith

Matt was a gifted musician, a joy to play with and a wonderful person besides. It always brightened my evening to see him perform or just bump into him at a show. My condolences to his family. He will absolutely be missed.

Lana and Howard Benatovich

Matthew was magical from the first moment we met him.I will always remember and treasure our special time together right after their wedding when we sat and talked in the hotel in San Franciso.That is when I really discovered the beauty of his soul,his peaceful and warm way , and his deep love for Stacia..He has made an impact on so many and we pray that Stacia and Lila will feel his special presence forever..The music goes on..

Natasha Price

I knew Matthew through my work and I remember him as someone who was very unique, genuine and special. I loved hearing Matt’s stories about his music gigs and was always so inspired by his talent and his passion for life. I remember meeting Stacia and Lila a few times at the office and how gorgeous Lila smiled and laughed, such a happy little girl full of life, just like her parents. My heart goes out to Stacia and Lila. May they know that Matt is always with them in their hearts and souls. He is an angel who will watch over them forever. Matt was very loved. We will all miss him dearly. Our hearts are with Stacia and Lila, we wish them strength and love.

harris eisenstadt

i was just in contact with matthew last week and was supposed to have played with him this past weekend with tim perkis. couldn’t wait to play with the two of them – what fun that would be! such creative musicians, and such nice guys!

i first met matt when he came down to calarts with scott rosenberg to do a session in 2000. i was so touched by his gentleness of spirit as well as his incredible musical ideas. i’ve loved being in contact with him since and his wonderful notes, always ending with XOXO, matthew. my deepest condolences to stacia and lila.

what a magical human their man is!



Graig Markel

Although we lost touch after he left Seattle, I’ve always thought highly of Matthew as a person and artist, and glad to hear of his accomplishments with his music and family. I had the pleasure of working with Matthew at and was greatly inspired by his passion for music and great sense of humor. my deepest condolences to stacia and lila in this difficult time, and wishing you the best.

nina frenkel

Reading these beautiful entries, I am envious that I wasn’t a musician who got to collaborate with Matthew, nor did I get to see him as a father. Both experiences must have been beautiful. But I did have the joy of knowing him as a friend in Seattle, and his dedication to his music and to playfulness had a strong impact on me. Matthew worked harder than anyone I knew at juggling all the aspects of work and creativity to make his music life rich and forward-moving. And he still found time to convince and organize enough of his friends to get a group rate to enter Eggopolis, when Kids’ Fest came to town.

My heart breaks with the loss of Matthew and his amazing energy. May we all aspire to be more like him.

Judith Kossy

Matthew touched so very many people with his special warmth, sweetness, love of life and talent. We, like so many others grieve for his loss and we take strength from his memory.

Love, Judith Kossy and David Perry, Chicago

Murray Smith


I’m speachless. This is a terrible loss to the music world & to those who were close to Matt. I only knew Matt for a brief period through “Gumby” playing in Salsa Florida at FSU. It didn’t take long to figure out what a talented and gifted musician he really was. Like Gumby, Matt opened my ears another world of music and for that I will be enternally grateful. My father (Dr. Robert L. Smith) and I send our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones.

Murray Smith

Isidro Gonzalez

I first knew of Matthew as a faceless neighbor, when we were first overwhelmed by the purchase of our new house, worried about the burden we had taken on, the work we had ahead of us to make the house livable, and wondering what sort of people we would be living next to. It turned out that Matthew and Stacia had bought their house at about the same time. My partner Julie called Matthew to ask about removing some trees in our yard that would affect their privacy. He was open, warm and welcoming. From that one conversation, we thought that we may actually have a good relationship with our new neighbors, and even grow to like them.

We had no idea.

Our family has been tremendously lucky to share all the little day-to-day details of life with Matthew and Stacia: struggling to fix our houses, sharing our challenges and joys in parenting, sitting with both families squashed together at the kitchen table eating a meal, toasting the arrival of Lila and Ariana, hanging out on the front steps – watching Lila, Nina and Ariana in some complicated game they’d just invented.

Having Matthew next door was simply – comforting. Comforting to know there was someone I could share any thought with, or with whom our children always felt safe, or who I could see cooking or cleaning in his kitchen at 11 o’clock at night while I did the same in mine.

I am sorry to say that I never heard him perform. Since we would always be in each others’ lives, there would be plenty of opportunities to see him play, wouldn’t there?

Well, Matthew, you will always be in our lives.

Stacia and Lila, we will always be in yours.

I still cannot believe our loss of Matthew. The thought of it only hurts when I breathe.


Becky Sicking

I don’t have anectodal stories to share, born out of regular interaction with Matt. I knew him through my husband, Larry Marotta, who met Matt in high school and who posted here previously. But it is amazing to read how my impressions of him, first formed nearly 15 years ago when we hung out together in FL, fit what so many who knew him far better than I describe. How many people are who they are, as clearly and openly as Matt, so that brief encounters with him and deeply connected relationships reveal the same person? He was a gift to know and to be inspired by–across the miles here to Ohio or the house next door.

It was and still is such a shock.

Sincerely and with much love,


Evan Weissman

I met Matthew at a playground last fall, and he joined my all-dads playgroup. We quickly realized how much we had in common, from from the way we dealt with our kids to the music we listened to. We also discovered a few friends we had in common. I hadn’t seen him since he went back to work some months ago, but we had kept in touch and had been hoping to get together with the kids this summer. When I read of his death in the paper, I was floored…

I will truly miss Matthew, and will never forget his wonderful smile.

My love goes out to Stacia (whom I never met) and of course Lila.


Victor Braitberg

It breaks my heart to know that Matt is gone. We lost touch after he and Stacia married and established their life together in Oakland. The last time we were in contact was around the time of Lilaís birth. We first met in Olympia, shortly after he made his westward move from Florida. He called me one night while I was spinning disks for my Othersounds show on KAOS. Matt was probably the most informed and enthusiastic caller I ever got. We bonded immediately around our passion for the quirky, queer, and curious sounds of Bali, Java and Tuva and innovators like Partch, Cage, and Frith. Before he made his move to Seattle, I had the good fortune of being able to improvise on several occasions with him and two other friends, Colin Green and Taze Yanick. As someone with no musical training and very little ability, it was a thrill for me to jam with such a talented and dedicated artist. Matt was such a unique person- witty, child-like in his wonder, spontaneous, generous, disciplined, and intensely uncompromising in the pursuit of his creative work. But Iím only scratching the surface with these words. Although a lot of time passed since we saw much of each other, I feel brutalized by this loss. He was a beautiful, precious person and I will miss him dearly.

michelle doiron

I have a story to add to my earlier posting. I was afraid to share it before because, well, I don’t know why really. I guess I was trying unsuccessfully to distance myself from the reality of this sadness.

I met Matt when I joined Gamelan Pacifica several years ago. He would always offer to share some of whatever snack he had at that rehearsal. At the time, I was attending Cornish College of the Arts and the time came for me to do my senior piano recital. I don’t know how he knew that my recital was happening, but he came to it. I was so surprised because he is just such an amazing and busy musician, but he made the time to come to my recital. I’m sure most of the music that I played wasn’t too interesting to him, but he did have some comments for me. Among them, he thanked me for showing him that there were two pieces of music that Franz Liszt wrote (Nuages Gris, or Gloomy Clouds and Wiegenlied, or Cradle Song) that he actually liked. That comment still puts a smile on my face. Christian Asplund introduced them to me in a class at Cornish, so I think it’s kind of a neat link. When I heard the news, looking for some way to express my own appreciation of him, I dug out those pieces and played them for him and cried and remembered and cried……

The last time I saw Matt was about a year and a half ago at a friend’s birthday dinner in Seattle. I met Stacia and Lila then too. I am so happy to have seen them all together.

I miss him.

Strength to you all,


Janet Galore

I went to the Web site at the Bay Improviser, at first thinking, oh, Matt’s doing something great in the Bay Area, but then… I couldn’t believe the news. I simply wept. Matt is the second friend I’ve lost to an automobile in the past week.

Matt and I met in the early 90’s when the iv bricoleurs played for an art exhibition my husband Edward and I organized… he’s been a huge part of the Seattle art and music scene and I will miss his presence. The world lost a wonderful soul.

Gary Callihan

I first met Matthew about 15 years ago or so, on a thanksgiving weekend in Florida. The “baby brother” of my girfriend Estee. My first time meeting the family and I will never forget it. Matthew was this sweet innocent kid, still in school, with so many fresh idealistic thoughts and dreams. I liked him immediately! When I was a bit younger I had similar ideas and aspirations, to play music, touch people, make them think, Where I had given up on many of these thoughts Matthew was a fresh reminder that all in this world is possible, I admired that in him.

As time passed he became my brother in law. We did’nt see him alot, but when we did it was always the same, a big hug a big smile, interesting converstion about life, music.

We followed his progress, Florida State orchestra, graduation, all the different bands he played in. I still have the “nose flute” he once gave me from some music he had been playing. It was always a thrill to hear of any success he was having with his music, how could you not pull for him. I had never met such a refreshing person. Estee was always so proud of any accomplishment he made, so was I.

It was a special treat for me that he played with Tom Waits, someone who was a personal favorite of mine, and I remember years ago he and I playing a version of Jersey girl, me warbling through, I think he got a real kick out of my attempts to play, he was never derogatory.

The day came that Estee and I divorced. It was a very difficult time in my life and his attitude toward me never wavered, When I was especially down I recieved a tape from him with whatever strange stuff he was listening to at the time and a silly photo of his head superimposed on that of a bride, with a cat as the groom. crazy Matthew!these simple words written on the back, ‘Don’t forget to find happiness in your world. Its there, trust me.’ Matthew. It made me smile. He always made me smile. That card has been on my refrigerator ever since. He never stopped being my brother in law, I never stopped thinking of him as my brother in law. He was the “happiness” that is in this world, a shining light, touching the hearts of all that knew him. He made me want to be a better person. That is his gift that I want to carry to his niece, my daughter Madison. To be the best person that you can be. Honest, loving, goofy, adventurous, creative full of wonder, like her uncle Matthew.

Matthew, you were my brother, you are in my heart always. I will miss you so much.

I love you, Gary

Stacia, god bless, I am so sad this day this world has lost something special.

Lori Goldston

It’s impossible to imagine Matthew being gone. By now it’s a long time since we met, I think it was not too long after he’d arrived in Seattle. His combination of talent, laser focus and goofy sense of humor was irresistible, and Kyle and I immediately starting roping him into all manner of projects, hair-brained and otherwise. I can’t remember him ever saying no to a chance to play.

I keep thinking about how we’d spend hours and hours at the dining room table after rehearsals, eating, drinking and listening to music, talking about dogs or restaurants or bosses or whatever stupid thing. Those are such nice times, so simple and excellent, spending time luxuriously with your friends, just being with them, doing nothing much. Of course you always think they’ll be a next time, and then one day there isn’t. This seem so impossibly much too soon.

It was really a lucky treat to have spent so much time with Matthew, working and goofing off. He was a really sweet guy, and he’ll be very sorely missed by I can’t imagine how many people.

Madison Callihan

My name is Madison, I’m 8, Matthew Sperry was my uncle. I miss him alot already. I think that he was one of the nicest people on Earth! I try to think of it as, he did not deserve to die, but he did deserve to go to a better place.I will miss him.

Judith Buist

Dearest Stacia and Lila,

The sadness that so many us feel can only be a minute proportion of your pain. My heart goes out to you both and to Matthew’s family. In the deepest, most gentle place I can find in my heart. I am thinking of you and holding such loving thoughts of Matthew.

Nick’s mother, Judith

Rachel Pigeon

Matthew I love you. I love that you keep your hair in a bottle and i love your hugs and i love your smell and your fuzzy hats and your warm warm smile and sleepy eyes. i love a just woken up from a nap dreamy matthew. i love the museum of jurassic technology and i just want to hug you again. this world is blessed having had you and i am changed having known you but i still feel robbed from precious precious sweet you i love you matthew i miss you and my heart is broken.

stacia stacia i love you and i love lila.

Eponine Cuervo-Moll

Dear Stacia, what is there to say when the abyss opens up before us bigger

than life and the fear and the anger sharpen the pain so that we do not die,

which would be the easiest, because how is it possible for a human being to

accept the unacceptable? And yet.. love is a moment of acceptance. Your friend

died. Your husband. Your most loved one. The journey is long into the hidden

memories and the pain of the unexisting future unbearable, it takes a while to find

the music, the gap is humongous… but the gift of death, wrapped in thorns,

is precious for those who dare unwrap it and the responsibility is big facing

it. Our beautiful, wonderful, gifted friend died, before time? The crassiness of

the fact, the unexpected. It is always like that, one is never prepared.

He left you Lila and the moments you shared, which are eternal and the

responsibility of keeping him inside you, alive not just for you but for him. And

his music. Music is the soul of life, finding music is crucial, music in sadness

and in joy, only boredom has no music, only indifference is mute.

The pain is healthy. No regrets, but Regret, an emotion which widens

conscience but not guilt.. You will go from painful shock to more painful acceptance

and in the way you will twirl in confusing emotions of shocking intensity. The

fact is unacceptable, the anger is the opening of the big mouth of an abyss

that never closes again and whose sight leaves us stunned in amassment, so

that anger really can not exist….save your self if you can, may be then you can

drag others too.. to the shore of…wonder shall we say?…or what?

Is there a way to trick death? To wait for her and face her? to take her hand

for the last dance? I presume this the origin of all so called

esoteric/spiritual search. And facing the wonder how can we honestly assume that not

everything is possible? I believe that when someone we love dies, there is an energy

that we absorb a sort of cannibalistic esoteric experience, quite wonderful

really, which enables us to continue to feel and to communicate…

Ah Stacia, I know but too well nothing of what I can say can help you now,

but you will help yourself, you have no choice and time will help you too. I am

with you, pray for you, wish for you that with strength some chosen ones can call

to jump over the gap.



mark sullo

I remember Matt telling me he was leaving Seattle for the Bay Area and how excited he was about his relationship with Stacia. I immediately thought about how much of a hole this would leave in the local music community, while simultaneously thinking how fortunate it would be for the Bay Area community. This was part of the charm of Matthew – he was so unassuming, yet his ability to connect in positive ways was simply a matter of fact. Good things would happen.

I’ve lost other friends who’ve passed at an early age and am struck by the plane of greatness that these people were on. Each time I wind up thinking two things – that they are being called by a higher power to help spiritually and that, through their memory, they will help us to all be better people. I can now, again, only hope this is true to counteract the sadness of losing such a great guy.

Brian Neumann

So many wonderful memories of time spent with Matt — from pool games and biweekly Trad’r Joe’s runs while on a dinner break at Virage . . . to his hilarious and incredibly detailed account of his 10-day experience with the “Master Cleanser” . . . to his tour-de-force, award-winning karaoke performance of Minnie Riperton’s “Lovin’ You.” And of course, Matt’s own music — these past couple days I’ve been listening to a “Sperry Sampler” of some of his recordings from the late 90s. So beautiful and inspiring, like Matthew will always be.

shannon mariemont

I know that many of us participating in the PornOrchestra are bound by grief with the sad news of the Matthew’s death, and I extend my condolences to each of you who are struggling with this loss.

I too share memories of Matthew’s warmth and generosity of spirit. For me, his sense of humor and delight in absurdity are summed up in his alter-ego Hukilau Highland.

Matthew/Hukilau was one of the first people I discussed the PornOrchestra project with as we waited to take the stage at Yoshi’s last September as members of Daniel Popsicle, playing Music from El Cerrito. Matthew had entered his Hukilau persona using a fantastic silver lame dress and heels. His effective use of cosmetics proved he was the only one who cared just how pasty the lights were about to make us. His playfulness and humor gave me the confidence to mention a certain idea I had been kicking around, and what did he think of it? He immediately connected with the absurdity of the PornOrchestra, encouraged me and was one of the first to volunteer to join the ensemble.

Matthew/Hukilau missed the March premiere due to his full performance schedule with Hedwig, but we spoke last Tuesday at the Moe!Kestra! about looking forward to our performance, family plans pending. Not having Matthew with us this coming Thursday seems the smallest part of a loss that has suspended an entire community in sadness, but I wanted you to know the role he played in the formation of this project.

I’m grateful for the experience of playing music with Matthew and listening to his performances. I’m heartbroken at the thought of the music we will never hear from him, yet certain all the next notes we play will carry his spirit and intent.

tara flandreau

I am stunned to hear this terrible news. Matthew was such a warm and positive person, with a wonderful, easy smile and often a twinkle of mischief in his eye. We had just played together tuesday night in the Moe!kestra gig, and we enjoyed a leisurely conversation after. Thinking of him that night, so vital and cheerful, it has been impossible to comprehend this sad accident, and that he is gone. He was a joy to be around, a wonderful musician, and will be missed very much by all who knew him.

Ernst Karel

I have only been in touch with Matthew a couple of times since I moved from Seattle in 1995, but I have always been impressed by his positive energy and his positive presence. Such a terrible loss; the world will miss him.


I am the 4 3/4 year old neighbor. We love you Matthew.


Brian Robertson

I’ve been reading and rereading these posts since I first received an email about Matt on Friday. I wanted to write something, but what could I say?

So I took out all of the recordings that Matt had given to me over the years and just listened. I thought about all the things we had done together, about that fan with the record mounted on it that he used to abuse a small amplified toy violin (what did he call it? The Vio-lator? It was awesome!). How supportive he always was of me, letting me stay in his “basement” even when I smelled REALLY bad.

I am grateful for it all. That we got to be dads together, even though it was just for a few hours one day when Matt, Stacia and Lila came back up to Seattle. (Lila was little, maybe just a few months). That I got to go to Matt and Stacia’s wedding and that he even asked me to play saron for them at it.

The last time I was in San Francisco we only talked on the phone but couldn’t meet up. It didn’t matter. Days, weeks or years would pass and when I next saw or talked with him it was as if no time had elapsed.

Brett and I just bought a house and are still unpacking and setting it up. We pulled out the legendary picture, “Matthew Naked with Frog”, that he gave me just before he moved down to Oakland. We weren’t sure what to do with it, but now we know. We’ll mount in on the wall above my computer, in the music room of course.

Brett, Medea, Morgan and I send all of our love out you Stacia and Lila. You are always welcome in our family.

Thanks for everything Matt! I love you.


Hyla Willis

I have not seen Matt in many years, but I remember him warmly from the many rehearsals he came to at a house I shared in Seattle with Brent Arnold and Jana Wilcoxen.

I am so sad to hear of his passing.

I have a fuzzy snapshot of an audience watching a Blowhole show at the Jewelbox theatre in Seattle, and Matt’s smile jumps out like a beacon from the crowd.

The outpouring of love and fond memories on this page is amazing and inspiring.

scott rosenberg

I stayed up last night listening to Matthew’s music and scanning in some pictures. I felt like I needed to do something, anything.

below is the link to some pictures of Matthew, mostly playing:

emily e miller


I am thinking about you and Lila and all the people who love you.

reaching/ stretching/ directing my love out to you and your family,

Emily (Charlotte’s pal)

Jon Keliehor

Dear Stacia and Lila

Signy, Brendan and I send our deepest regrets and sympathies to you from Scotland. News of Matthew’s death has shocked us deeply. Matthew’s support for the world around him was clearly unending. This was his gift. Our time with him in Seattle was incomparable, and it is impossible comprehend the loss that you must now feel.

Jon Keliehor

jeff hobbs

matthew was one of those few wonderful people who seem so positive and sweet and thoroughly engaged in all the aspects of life. it is a blessing to have known his warmth, and an honor to have played with him. the thoughtfulness and goodness and clarity of his playing is a joy.

my love goes to his spirit.

Todd Anthony

“Bone-chilling cold.”

Matthew tried to warn me about the weather in Seattle. It was November, 1997, and I was about to follow his lead from South Florida to the Pacific Northwest.

I had only met Matt once, briefly, on Miami Beach. Nonetheless, he left me the keys to his Seattle apartment — he was on tour somewhere — and I crashed at his place for a week or so. In anticipation of my stay, he composed a detailed list of the best/cheapest/funkiest restaurants, coffee shops and music clubs in his Capitol Hill neighborhood. I followed his recommendations not just for that week, but for months afterwards.

Matthew’s apartment heater knew no middle ground; it either gushed thousands of BTUs or shut down entirely. It provided cherished respite from Seattle’s damp, dreary winter weather. I generally cranked it up so high that when I returned to the apartment after a walk in the perpetual rain I could barely breathe from the dry heat.

So I guess you could say that I’ve always associated Matt with warmth.

Of course, as so many of you who never visited his Seattle apartment have mentioned, Matthew’s smiles and hugs generated a warmth all their own.

After a few months I returned to South Florida, where I live to this day. I learned of Matthew’s tragic accident while I was driving to the gym; the air was thick with humidity and the temperatures were in the mid-80s.

But when I heard about Matt, a shiver ran down my spine.

Bone-chilling cold.

Tom Darci

How can this be so?

I last saw Matthew 3 weeks ago at a neighborhood school cleanup event. He was putting the finishing touches on a flowerbed he had just planted, attempting to water it with a hose that just wouldn’t quite reach. He was making sure that the just the ground got wet and not the plants themselves, as it was a sunny day and he was afraid they’d fry. Later that day I remember repeating that same wisdom to my partner Beth as if it were my very own as we worked on our vegetable bed.

At that same cleanup I had the pleasure of spending an hour or more inhaling dust with his friend Peter (“you live nearby?” “no, I’m from Alaska” “oh”). It was no surprise to me that this sweet, gentle, funny and generous man was a friend of Matthew’s. Of course.

It breaks my heart that Lila has lost such a father. That Stacia has lost such a partner. I didn’t know Matthew that well – the majority of our interactions took place by happenstance as I encountered him while walking the dog past his house – but it was abundantly clear that he loved that daugher of his to pieces and treated her with enormous respect and good humor. As it sounds like he did for pretty much everybody whose life he touched. I first met him when he borrowed our birth tub. I was happy to have another homebirther in the neighborhood. And I am somewhat amazed to learn of his musical accomplishments, of which I was largely unaware. I had the pleasure of trading stories back and forth with him this past winter as we were both in shows at the same time. My arts life is zero compared to his, yet he made me feel like an equal. One day walking home from a rehearsal I poked my head in the door at the Victoria theatre, as I could hear the band rehearsing inside and I was very curious about this Hedwig show. Now, I have no idea how Matthew noticed me peek in the door and I didn’t think he’d even recognize me out of the context of the neighborhood, but he just immediately looked up from his playing and shot me a smile and a wave, as if I was the person he had been waiting to see all day.

Matthew, I sure hope you’re feeling all this love. You deserve it.


marc baroz

every once in a while you meet a person that the instant you see them, talk to them, you know they have a special light that shines. matthew was that person.

i showed up at the hedwig audition having figured out the chords to “wig in a box” wrong. after the first round(in which i terribly messed up the song) when we were called back for the second audition, matthew was kind enough to show me the correct chords.

you always here the stories about meeting someone and feeling like you’ve known them for 20 years. matthew was that person.

thank you matthew for your beautiful talent. your sweet smile and your amazing soul. thank you for always being creative..thank you for showing that the essence of our beings is in what we create and that we should never deny any of it.

we talked about getting together after hedwig’s run to play some music. that we never did will be one sadness i don’t know will ever go away

stacia and lila, there are absolutely no words for how heartbroken i am for you. there is no way a spirit like matthew’s just goes away, it can’ has to linger..thank you matthew…

Julie Silas

So many of you have written about Matthewís love and devotion to his family. I have experienced much of that over the past three years, having had the privilege to live and breathe Matthew as a dad, a partner, a friend, and a man.

I met Matthewís voice before I met Matthew. We had just bought a house and had heard from the realtor that the house next door had also just been bought. I was able to get the buyerís name and called him, hoping to get his okay about chopping down part of a nasty tree that hung over our side of the fence. The voice on the phone was honey-coated, young, and amazingly appreciative of the call. He not only gave me the go ahead to chop away, but he gave me the hopes that we might really have something special when we moved in.

Matthew and Stacia moved into their house two weeks after we moved into ours. When I first met Matthew, he looked like my partner Isidro, they both had shoulder length, thick black hair. They ended up being totally different people in almost every way (with two exceptions √Ī they both loved being fathers and they both were forever running late!). But that was what made me appreciate Matthew even more. He and I were the similar ones, a bit neurotic, always overwhelmed, taking on too much, but producing such amazing results.

When they moved in Stacia was probably six weeks pregnant. It didn√≠t take long before Matthew connected with our daughter Nina, who was Lila√≠s age at the time. I can remember Nina at the top of our front stairs, morning after morning after morning, √¨Hi Matthew√ģ √¨Hi Matthew√ģ √¨Hi Matthew.√ģ And Matthew√≠s patient replies, √¨Hi Nina√ģ √¨Hi Nina√ģ √¨Hi Nina.√ģ They had a connection, those two.

Eight months to build a friendship and then Lila was born. The exchange between Nina and Matthew had become such a part of him, that much to Stacia√≠s dismay, for the first few months after Lila was born, Matthew was caught quite frequently calling Lila, √¨Nina.√ģ They√≠re pretty close, √¨L-I-L-A√ģ and √¨N-I-N-A.√ģ (When our second daughter was born, my partner got in his own trouble when he called our new baby √¨Lila√ģ over and over again!)

We had a connection that most people donít get with their neighbors. You like them, but youíre happy they live in their house and you live in yours. We liked Matthew and Stacia so much that when the fence between our two houses started to fall down, we just took it down and itís been down ever since.

I was with Matthew the night before he died. We shared a meal, the company of three little girls under five, giggling and running around us as we tried to have an adult conversation. He left our house very excited, as he was about to take Lila to her first movie, √¨Winged Migration√ģ (how many of us can claim such a beautiful first movie?).

Matthew fed our family in so many ways. I mean, we fed the three of them, but mostly so that they could get food in their bodies. But, when Matthew fed us, it was so we could enjoy the taste of the food and mostly so that he could enjoy the cooking. He loved to salt his food, I think it was one of his favorite flavors. I have fond memories of his matzo ball soup, the roasted beets, roasted turnips (I mean, Matthew actually roasted turnips so perfectly that I could not even recognize them as turnips √Ī who cooks with turnips??). He disdained the ritual of going out to brunch, appalled at how much it cost for food you could make at home for so little. We only called them once in the three years we knew them, to see if they wanted to go out to brunch, Matthew just said it was a √¨rip-off√ģ and immediately replied, √¨come over and I√≠ll make you breakfast.√ģ

I loved to disagree with Matthew √Ī I mean, we pretty much agreed 99% of the time. But that extra 1% was exhilirating. I felt totally safe disagreeing with him. It reminded me of my law school days where we would sit around, stoned in some fashion, and argue until the middle of the night. We all liked that discourse, challenging each other, the √¨intellectual dance√ģ of it all. Matthew was a fine connoisseur of that intellectual dance √Ī he had an opinion about everything: music, food, politics (can you imagine what it was like living next door to Matthew after the botched Gore/Bush election??).

Matthew knew and appreciated eclectic music and often expressed disdain for anything run of the mill (with some exceptions). Our tastes were different √Ī on any given day you could walk by our house and hear salsa, world music, or Ben Harper blaring out the front windows. The night before Matthew died, he and Lila were at my house taking care of our youngest daughter, Ariana. Stacia had begun the babysitting favor, but had had to leave about five minutes before I arrived. I walked into the house to Matthew and the two little girls. I was stunned for a second and then started laughing hysterically. I couldn√≠t resist teasing him √Ī because, in the background was a CD by the first American Idol, Kelly Clarkson. (yes, we mush balls bought the CD for our √¨four year old√ģ daughter √Ī sure sure sure). Matthew didn√≠t mind the teasing. I√≠m not sure he would appreciate the irony that Kelly Clarkson might have been the last CD he heard before he passed away √Ī sorry Matthew!

We were very lucky to have Matthew, Stacia and Lila as our neighbors and I look forward to the joy of continuing to support and be part of the lives of Stacia and Lila. We hold you close every night we go to sleep. We look through our dining room window into yours, across those ten feet of space and think good thoughts for you, giving you all the power and strength to get through these tough times and knowing we are right next door when you canít. We love you dearly.

And, we love you Matthew √Ī in your pajama bottoms, cereal bowl in hand, hanging at the top of your porch stairs at noon.

We love you Matthew, even though you slept all night in your car when it broke down on the San Mateo Bridge, rather than call and wake us to come and get you.

We love you Matthew as we see your grinning face, Lila in your arms, waving like a ten year old on a bus through the dining room window at 6:30 a.m.

We love you Matthew, as you hemmed and hawed about borrowing Isidroís purple shirt for the Letterman show, yet when we turned it on that night, you wore it and looked hot!

We love you Matthew, as we listen to your voice at our kidsí birthday parties, since you always volunteered to hold the video camera and take the pictures.

We love you Matthew and miss you and will remember you in every delicious bite of food, every note played just the right way, every smile on Lilaís face.


Eric Hoffman

Not long after Matt arrived here in Seattle, my friend Mark and I were hard at work putting together a crazy kind of business/music store, with the kind of compact discs and records that Matt loved and even made–non-hierarchical, inclusive, inquisitive, compelling music. Matt helped us out at the store then and I always considered him a friend though our paths would later only cross occasionally. Part of how I connected with Matt was that he was the only other person I had ever met in Seattle who was actually from Florida. An unlikely alliance, perhaps. But more profoundly, his greatest impact on me was, as it seems to be with all those who are missing him now, the unmitigated interest he showed in YOUR story and his apparent distaste in tooting his own horn. He was a great listener–with or without the bass in his hands–and from that humble characteristic I was inspired and I will always be thankful to have had the opportunity to know him.

pauline oliveros

May all the love generated through Matthew and expressed on this web site surround and comfort Stacia, Leila, all the relatives and friends and spread out through the world.

May we remember and may the community come closer together through the remembrance of Matthew and all that he gave to all of us.

I knew Matthew only through a few performances beginning in New York in 1998 and ending with Sounding the Margins in San Francisco this time last year. I feel fortunate that I had those experiences. As so many have mentioned his presence was immediately affecting – his grace, humor and creativity.

We have lost a wonderful musician and friend. I will treasure Matthew’s spirit and musicality.

With love,

Pauline Oliveros

Jon Solomon

The receipt of this message, spun out of the portals of cyberspace, across the Pacific, through the portals of my own meagre isolation, left me stricken with tears.

I am a friend of Stacia and Matt’s from Seattle, where I was guest professor for a year. At a difficult time in my life, Stacia introduced me to her friends, including that very special cat, Matt, and made me and my wife feel a

sense of incomparable warmth and repose.

Matt was an incredibly dynamic person. He–as well as Stacia and Lila–never deserved this.

It is incomprehensible.

My deepest appreciation goes to Elliot for taking the time to contact me about this terrible

tragedy. Although it is a sad occasion, I would have been a thousand times sadder had I not been informed.

Stacia: I hope that I will get to see you next time I’m in the States.



Erin Volheim

It has taken me the last two days to write something, memories of Matt swirling around in a sea of sadness. The surrealness of email, if only it were virtual reality, than Matt would be home making dinner with Stacia and Lila right now. I am so angry; I know that if he had the choice, he would be there. I fear that if I commit to these written memories of Matt, then it will all be true. Yet, I am compelled to write to add to this document of his life, especially for Lila when she is older, hoping it will provide some comfort to her in the vacuum of her and Staciaís loss.

I think around 1993, I was fortunate to meet Matt as the sandwich guy, who came to my work every morning. We soon discovered we were real people, beyond our roles. He invited me to a Gamelan Pacifica performance at Cornish; it would be the first of many wildly divergent performances I would go to. And like any good friend he went to any plays I was in. He must have tried every kind of object on his bass, looking for new frontiers in sound as he did in food. Taking me to the best falafel place on the Ave. or the best Ethiopian deal. Like his knack for odd jobs that would sustain his art, he always knew how to work things or find the quality deal. At the time, he and Christie were my favorite couple. They were always creating something, it seemed life was the fullest expression of their artistic temperaments; hanging-out with them was never dull. And it didnít involve money or things; it could be as simple as a conversation. I was sad when they broke up, but totally inspired by how they stayed friends till the end. Later finding love in their respective partners Stacia and Phil. Eventually, we all left Seattle, but kept in touch throughout the years, visiting when we could.

The last couple of years I lost touch, except through Mattís email postings. I feel so fortunate to have reconnected with him in January in San Francisco. We hung-out after Hedwig, it was easy to talk, as if it was yesterday. I was so proud to be a friend to the father he had become. The next day was one of the big anti-war protests. He said he wanted to take Lila to as many as he could, so that she would think fighting for what she believed in was an everyday activity. And that he wanted to raise her to be an empowered young womyn. He seemed so fully engaged in his life with Stacia and Lila, and working hard to support them using his many talents. Fatherhood suited him well and should have been his next work of art. Of course, he would laugh at the schmaltziness of all this reminiscing about him. I think any of us would do almost anything to hear that laugh again.

Matt took me to my first meteor shower outside of Seattle. How could I not see his life as such– a beautiful ball of light that blazes through your life and then disappears. I√≠ll miss you Matt. –Love, Erin

Kevin Montgomery

Matt and I became great friends during ‘high school’ [’83-’86]. We – along with a handful of assorted comrades – developed a bond to outweigh any I’ve known to date; particularly the four of us: Howard Ferre, Jason Hann, Matthew and me. Most of our time was spent doing √ęthis-and-that√≠, together. Of course, we connected musically, but moreover, the chemistry between us was something magical. We would enjoy life and all that the world could dole unto us.

In 1985, Matt said we should revive the ‘Float Committee’. Long story short: there was no ‘Float Committee’ at our high school, but we would outwit the powers-that-be and each of us would take on the title in our yearbook. We began to congregate every Thursday. Wearing ‘Hawaiian’ shirts, we’d have a picnic in the grass behind the band room. Each of us would bring something. Matt always brought Perrier and grapes or this fabulous herbal iced tea his mom made with a potpourri of Celestial bags…

We wanted to spread love and positive energy over our environment and we often tried to break boundaries within the hold of our surroundings; once, we dressed up like √ęKrishnas√≠ for Halloween donning bald wigs, monkish robes and tambourines. In fact, we danced and chanted throughout the hallways of the school, in and out of classrooms, smiling and √ęconnecting by disconnecting√≠ with the student populace. What a team.

Later, while Matt and I were in college, living in the unofficial musician√≠s squat house at 502 W Jefferson St in Tallahassee, FL, he was my model for countless photo projects. I must have hundreds of pictures of him! We made a photo-book based on A Day In The Life [by the Beatles]. My professor awarded me the highest grade in the class for the assignment which ultimately featured a nude Matt Sperry in FSU√≠s Ruby Diamond Theater, sitting at the controls of a massive pipe organ – no pun intended – (a la Monty Python). He worked for the music department and he had the keys, so we snuck in there at 3am and shot the whole thing√Ėso covert, yet so exposed. 

When I last met up with him, Matthew was in the reception area of my less-than-fabulous, 14th floor office at 333 7 Ave in Manhattan. With beautiful Stacia at his side and the brightest little pixie, Lila, in tow, Matt and I looked at each other eye-to-eye for the first time in years√Ė

Note: being in New York City for more than a couple of months can jade you. One can become stoic, cynical or unaffected by the enormous population and its unabashed perversions. I moved to New York in December of 2000 and left my friends and family far away in Florida. I wasn√≠t √ęalone√≠ in the city, but let√≠s just say, in my life√≠s kitchen, I was missing the fine, familiar flavor you get out of a well-seasoned pan.

√ĖI had forgotten how emotionally powerful it is to embrace Matthew, but he drew me in like a breath and held me there until I understood it all again√Ėlike he knew I needed that reminder. He is so intuitive; so in tune with everything.

We took a short tour of the place and headed out for lunch in Chelsea.

The four of us walked around a little on the West Side talking about art and Lila and life – Lila, the essence of life and the overwhelming reflection of her wonderful parents. I thought to myself, √¨Matthew, you are one of the most beautiful people I√≠ve ever known. You have the kind of family people should strive for and most people can only dream of. I am so privileged to have known you all this time and to have witnessed what delivered you to your nirvana.√ģ

A couple of months later, Matthew played with Tom Waits on the David Letterman show! I√≠m so proud of him. Dozens of my friends watched with me simultaneously and we called each other afterwards to be the first to say excitedly, √¨Did you see him?!√ģ

Did you see him? I can only hope so. To know someone like Matt√Ėto be able to feel the warm, love that he emits like steam off a racehorse in the cold, early dawn. That is my nirvana. I wonder, √¨Could I be more blessed than he?√ģ

Matt is too gracious to know how important he is to my life and my development as a person. We shared many √ęlegendary√≠ moments, but the crux of our brotherhood is based on intense admiration for his creativity, his spirit and his humanitarian demeanor. He showed me how to share love with the world around us. He taught me not to litter. Matthew moved me√Ėin the right direction. For that, I am forever grateful.

Carly Ozard

I never knew Mr. Sperry personally, but I was and am still a huge Hedwig Fan, and I saw the incredible performance in the city twice. An avid follower and lover of the story, I believe that the music is what does tell the story. Your music helped tell Hedwig, and for your artistry, thank you. You Rock! Many will miss your wonderful talents.

tim perkis

I have nothing to add to what I said above, except to show my pictures of matthew:


Nick Fogler

Oh Matthew,

You were my sweet friend. I must be blessed to have had so much of you in your last shining months. It’s clear reading the above that you touched so many in the same way you touched me. And we were just getting started.

I watched you change Lila on the floor of a bar last Sunday as Mitzi blew soap bubbles over the two of you, and said to myself, “now, THAT’s the kind of Dad I want to be.” You were also the kind of musician I want to be, the kind of Jew I want to be, the kind of husband I want to be, and the kind of friend that I hope I was back.

Thank you for making beautiful music with me.

Thank you for your joy.

Thank you for matzo ball soup when I was sick.

Thank you for holding my hand when I was scared.

I will always miss you.

Sharon De Caria

Dear Matthew,

I don’t know if you remember me. We only met one time. We had dinner together at your Mom’s in Miami in the mid 90’s. I am your Mom’s best friend. Well, at least I think I am. I hope I am. Your Mom speaks about you all the time, she is so proud of you! Proud of your accomplishments from musician, to cook, to builder, to activist, to father….

After reading all of the previous memorials to you, I know why you chose to come to earth for this lifetime. All of these people that you have touched – you were here to teach each one of us. How can we not aspire to be just like you? With this wake-up call we can begin to live our lives as you did. We should now, every single one of us, hope to touch people in your way. You know how that pyramid effect works. It would surely change the collective consciousness of the world. Yes, a life well-lived, Matt…filled not with handshakes but big bear hugs.

Just one other thing. The world thinks that a child is not supposed to cross-over before the parent….it’s not the natural way. I say we take another look at that theory. We each have a path that we have chosen to walk here. When we have accomplished this task, we go back home. Thanks, Matt, for your sacrifice. It would take someone just like you to accomplish this heavenly plan.

And, alas, we are all left here now with our human tears and remorse, for, we know no other way to be. I’ll continue to love your Mom through this. With you and me at her side she’ll make it. I’ll be looking for you and counting on your help.


Sharon De Caria XOXO

Alissa Schwartz


When Andrew emailed you more than two years ago to tell you that we were going to have a baby and he read me your response that Lila was born that day, I started crying from joy. Your account of Lila’s birth and Stacia’s strength and beauty… Oh, look! I just found the email in our scrapbook:

Monday, March 5, 2001:

“Hello Andrew! Good to hear from you. You have good timing too, as our baby just came out early Sunday morning. It’s a girl–Lila Simone Sperry, 8lbs of delicious newborn. I can’t describe just how amazing an experience my baby’s birth was. And now she’s so amazing to look at, and my wife Stacia is so beautiful right now…. Stacia is my hero right now. And Lila is just the most unbelievable creature I’ve ever laid eyes on.”

Anyway, that email stuck with me for a long time (still sticks) and entered my blood and spirit and contributed to making my pregnancy and birth experience rich and beautiful. I am so touched by your love for and admiration of Stacia and Lila. You sent a giant piece of your spirit to us that day.

Other things: your enveloping hugs; jamming with you, Andrew, Ben Warren, and Wally Shoup in the Compound in preparation for a show at the OK Hotel; your warmth, your voice; a party in your Seattle basement apartment after a dance concert choreographed by Sheri Cohen with music by you, Andrew, and others. I’ve never met Stacia, but I remember her paintings were hung all along the tops of the walls. I was telling Margit yesterday that I remembered them looking a little Aboriginal and she said they reminded her of Gorky.

I send my spirit out to you and your closest ones. I hope I get to meet Stacia and Lila sometime!

Love, Alissa Schwartz

Troy Swanson

i last saw Matt and met his family on a sunny august day here at my house just as he and his family were leaving seattle. it was such a treat to share a moment in the exitement of fatherhood with him. Lila had just been born and my son was just one. i will always remember his smile and enthusiasm. my thoughts are with you Stacia and Lila.


My condolances on the loss of your friend, Scot. Certainly it speaks well of him to be so well and fondly remembered, and so sorely missed.


Christopher Williams


a long time staring at the first notice (say what? that doesn’t happen to nice guys on bikes!? Matthew?!), but a longer time reading so many beautiful memorials. yes.

youthful arrogance aflame, i waltzed into Matt’s place about a year ago to rehearse _double basses at 20 paces_… ready to mop the floor with my opponent; Herr Sperry smiles! my foe isn’t supposed to be so damn sweet!

he never stood a chance — there wasn’t an aggressive bone in his body! i miss him very much.

Naomi Okuyama

Oh how sorry I am to hear the horrible news. Matt was a fantastic, talented, friendly, vibrant person, it was clear even to someone who didn’t know him very well. I wish I had a chance to get to know him and his family better. But I feel very lucky to have met him and played with him in Daniel Popsicle- in the short time I knew him he left many wonderful memories.

My heartfelt condolences to his loved ones. Words don’t say.

Sergio Amadori

As one of the programming directors of the Circ.a alternative music network in Italy, I have fond memories of Matthew playing in my country in 1997 with FoMoFlo… A happy bunch, good concerts everywhere, and a top performance for “Audiobox” on national RadioTre… Deepest condolences to his friends and family from all of us here.

Sergio Amadori – Circ.a

( see for FoMoFlo concert details and picture)

Chris Brown

This is a shocking loss. I wish I had known Matt better, but knowing him even a little was enough to know the beauty of his spirit. I mourn his passing, but he left marks that will not be forgotten. Music, and life, is more because of Matt.

Sarah Lockhart

My condolences go out to Matthew’s friends and family.

As the programming director of a venue that hosts numerous creative music performances, I have met so many members of the creative music community and their families in all-to-fleeting moments before and after marvelous performances, and I regret often having trouble matching names with faces, instruments, and music. I admit, I had to look at the pictures posted of Matthew on this site to confirm that the individual tragically lost to us was who I was afraid it was.

I remember Matthew as a warm, genuinely nice, enthusiastic, and talented musician, who juggled a busy schedule, but always presented himself and his music with consummate professionalism and grace.

I and 21 Grand would be honored and willing to offer our venue for any memorial concert or gathering for Matthew.

Rhoda Garfinkel

I have only had the opportunity to meet Matthew a few times. I cannot say that I knew him well. I wish I could. What I do know about him is that he was probably the only person in this world that had the goodness and spirit to be my niece Stacia’s partner in life. I saw the richness, love, and pure joy that Matthew brought to my beaufiful niece. Dearest Lila Simone joined her parents in love only 2 years ago. A baby so loved and loving that she will continue to live her life as if her father is the sunshine of each of her days.

My heart is broken. We will never experience the extraordinary effervescence of Matthew with Stacia and Lila again.

Matthew Black

My love goes out to Lila and Stacia.

Matthew’s patience and good humor as we endured the first month of rehearsing Hedwig were a constant lesson to me. When he was onstage, he was fully present; but his priorities were his wife & daughter and he always knew how to say NO to the show when he had to. He earned my respect as a person & a musician very quickly.

He often had a bag of french fries which he would gladly share. He was always glad to see you, whoever you were, and you had to give in to the hug that would follow. He cracked me up so many times, backstage and onstage. What an unfailingly kind & sweet & generous & rare person.

I had already been missing him since leaving the show. Thank you Matthew Sperry for your love, your music, your warmth, your optimism, and your ability to pass it along to those around you.

Brian Carey

I played with Matt way back in his FSU days in the Salsa band. I will never forget his warm heart, peaceful soul, and joyous sound. I am deeply saddened. My thoughts and prayers go out his family and friends. I will always remember him.

With Love,

Brian Carey

Jim Hacker

I am so sorry to hear of the tragic death of Matthew. What a shock to the senses and psyche. I don’t know if I met him but I still feel cheated by not having the opportunity in the future. I feel that having someone being taken away so suddenly leaves us with a feeling of abandement and distress that leaves scars for life. It is now up to us to turn the scars into stars, and honor the person by continueing to lead our lives with the lessons they have left us. It looks like Matt left us with an abundance of ways to enjoy life and family. May his star shoot across the cosmos leaving a trail we can all follow. No life is ever wasted, no matter how short. His memories will linger like star dust. I offer my prayers to you, his family and friends.

With love and a saddened heart,

Jim Hacker

Christie Triplett

Words cannot describe how much I will miss Matt. The following is a link to a sketch of an altar that Phil and I are going to build for him.

Bill Horist

I don’t think I’ve seen Matthew once since he moved from Seattle though we spoke from time to time. We didn’t get to play much together but we did hang out a bit and I was always glad to be in the presence of his warmth, ideas and refreshingly strong opinions. Although we lost touch for the most part, I’ve always had a place in my heart for Matthew (as so many do) and was always glad to hear of his accomplishments both in music and family. My deepest condolences to his family and friends who’s lives he was, up until so recently, illuminating. Matthew you’ll be missed.

Rodney Pond

How did one soul, one sweet, rascally force of nature touch so many lives? I am in awe of all the love that has come here to be shared.

I hope that all of us here in Seattle can come together for a Matthew Sperry memorial of our own. Please post any ideas or notices here.


m ichelle doiron

I feel so lucky to have known Mathew and played music with him. His music is inspiring, his love is so powerful, his smile infectious and his hugs empowering. I am so sad at his passing, but will always remember and be inspired by the ways he has touched my life when I play or hear a certain song or eat at a certain place…What a truly wonderful person we all have known and loved.

My deepest sympathies to Stacia and Lila

Thanks to all who have written.


Steve Lohrentz

I’ve spent the time since finding out thinking of all the parts of my life that were made known to me through Matt Sperry. The most profound of these parts is confidence. Matt always had an opinion: a very strong one that he threw with the force of his entire personality. Matt and we other iii bricoleurs spent months and months scoring silent films together, in a process that seemed more time consuming and emotionally challenging than many marriages are. The specifics of those quarrels are long since forgotten. What remains, and will always remain with me, is Matt’s utter commitment to the moment. He put everything he had into every idea that came into his mind. This force was always delivered with good humor, but with such conviction that no one ever failed to notice. Everybody gets good ideas, and Matt got more than his share of those. But what was unique to Matt , in my experience, is that he trusted in his ideas so completely. That kind of approach to living is entirely infectious, and one which I realized a long time ago will be with me every moment.

Aaron Bennett

what this world needs most is more people like Matthew Sperry. His compassion, kind heartedness and patience was evident and abundant from the first time I met him. I didn’t get to hear him play as much as I wanted too, but the times I did, the music always put a smile on my face. The world suffered a great loss Thursday.

Tim Koffley

When I think of Matt Sperry, I think of someone with unbounded curiosity, experiencing each moment anew, with unabashed innocence and love. He was a sublimely beautiful spirit, filled with playfulness, and I always picture him with a broad grin, because I rarely saw him any other way.

I think Jason nailed it when he called him an angel. Matt harbored no fear or anger that I can ever recall.

I’d known Matt since his high school days in North Miami Beach, and he was a large part of the reason I relocated from South Florida to Seattle. It is because of him that I know the wonderful people that I now know in Seattle, as well as many fine eateries. While I didn’t usually interact directly with him musically, I remember him as an intrepid explorer in his music, and in his life.

He turned me on to more new things than anyone I’ve ever known. We are told that we should stop and smell the roses every once in a while. Matt spent his entire life stopping, smelling them, spending a week with them, then going on to share them with everyone else. His mission was to show the rest of us what we were missing.

Regretfully, I fell out of touch with Matt around the time he met Stacia, and have only been in occasional email contact since then. I was always counting on seeing him again one day and learning more about what his life had become. Through these messages, I can see just how much more love he found with Stacia and Lila. My heart aches for them and their immeasurable loss.

Thank you so much to the parties responsible for giving us all this place to share our memories of Matthew. My sorrow is tempered by seeing how much he loved, and was loved in the short time he was with us.

We miss you Matt.

Mike Shannon

One could always tell when Matt was coming, a big hug rolling across the fields always preceeded his physical manifestation

Tony Phillips

I feel fortunate for getting to know Matthew as a person and as a musician over the last few years. He had such purely positive energy, even when being grumpy! When I called him about playing at the San Francisco Music Festival last month, he was on for it right away, as always, even though he had to rush to get to a Hedwig show right after. Here’s the last email that I received from him, originally about that SFMF, but now reads more broadly:

I had a great time!



One of the last times I saw him — which I can’t describe without starting to cry, but here goes — here’s the image of him that I’ll remember: At the Ashkenaz in Berkeley in late April, after playing a benefit, lying on his back with Lila on top of him, totally happy.

And, the some die too young

Matthew Sperry…

Jonnie Axtell

Still in shock, and words fail. It is good to read what has been posted previously, obviously many people have felt what I have in knowing Matt. When I joined the Angry Inch in January, I was treated to an experience I’ll never forget with a person I’ll never forget, a swift kick in the musical arse and a smile that always assured that no matter how brutally honest a comment was, there was a healthy dose of love along with it. I sat next to Matt almost every night for over four months, applying ludicrous makeup and trading good-natured jabs, never quite able to keep up with his hilarious wit. I’m proud and very fortunate to have had the opportunity to rock alongside such an exemplary musician, who made that cheap-ass ibanez bass sound impossibly wide and fat. No matter how hard I tried to keep frowning onstage while we were all supposed to act like sullen eastern european rockers, if I could see the slightest glimmer in his eye or curl at the corner of his mouth at one of Hedwig’s jokes, I would break character and bust out laughing. Words continue to fail. I love you Matt. The world was a better place with you in it.

Iain Edgewater

This news really took my breath away. I am so, so sorry for this loss, sorry for all of Matt’s family and friends and listeners.

I kinda sorta knew Matthew many years ago, not too long after he got to Seattle, and very shortly after I did — the only musical thing I had going on then was playing in a gamelan, and I had gotten a job at a place that no longer exists, because a couple of the people I played with already worked there. These people also had Gamelan Pacifica ties, and I guess that’s how Matt ended up working there, too, doing the same crappy job I did. I moved on shortly thereafter, and our paths didn’t really cross so much after that, before he left for the Bay Area. But I always remembered him from that time as a genuinely nice guy that I was really rooting for, and so I always kind of perked up when I heard about something new he was involved in, or saw his name on a track listing of something or other — somehow I had the idea, wow, I’ll be able to say, Gee, I knew him when…!

I so much wish it didn’t have to remembering him be like this, right here. But I am so delighted to see that while he was walking the planet, he touched so many people so positively, so joyously.

Steve Lew

Weeping impotently at one in the morning, having just read Amy Denio’s email. All of my familiar surroundings now seem so hostile for their failure to share a world with Matt. Just reading his name on the personnel lists of Dan Plonsey’s gig announcements would have such a comforting effect. It was great just to know that he was out there sharing his music and uplifting everyone to whom he spoke. Someone said that happiness is having something to look forward to, and I must say that it is disorienting and somewhat nauseating not to be able to look forward to my next encounter with Matt. Seeing him always had that sense of relief and arrival as if I’d been looking forward to it for weeks, even if I just saw him randomly at the supermarket.

Before subbing for him in Hedwig, I hadn’t seen or talked to Matt for a few years. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to reconnect with him before this happened.

Stacia, you are in my heart and my thoughts. Lila, I know that the relentless positivity gene that you inherited from your father will help you and your mother through this.

Jessica Lurie

When I got the the terrible and sad news today about Matthew I could not believe it – that such a vibrant, sweet, and inspirational person could be taken away from the world. Although I had not seen Matthew in a few years, it seemed like his name would come up often with a smile. I played with him for several years Seattle in Brainstun, various improvising ensembles and he graced my first solo recording and helped me get it together. He inspired me to no end, and just to think of him makes my heart feel lighter, because he was always bringing such light and joy into the spaces and people around him. When we both played on Elle,

-llman’s long string instrument trip in Europe in 1998, we had an amazing time running around Berlin and Prague and Cologne, finding all the cubist archeticture, drinking absinthe, finding the best chocolate, walking walking and talking about the beauty and craziness of the world. I will miss his gentleness, his string hugs, open heart, his love of life and joy for his family. My heart and love go out to Stacia and Lila – if there is anything you need we are are here for you. May you be at peace Matthew – Jessica

Craig Flory

I just received this news and am deeply saddened . I had the honor and joy of playing music with Matt . As a person he was like his music ; honest , sincere and positive . My heart goes out to all . CF

Evonn Balcziunas

It came to me. Something like the truth. Through the ringing in my head. While tearing the Gideons to pieces. Alone in a crappy hotel. Gritting my teeth and yelling again and again -“WHY HIM!?!” The REAL reason. It was so simple. So obvious. God is assembling one hell of an act.

Your light left us anything but blind. Your love is more indelible than the richest ink. Thank you for loving Milo so much. It will never be forgotten. But I will never understand the comet-like nature of your greatness.

Stacia and Lila, you are loved more than words can express and longer than time will allow.

tom swafford

I talked to and played with Matt on just a few occasions in Berkeley. He was one of the most genuine, positive people I have ever met. And a fantastic musician.

Amy Denio

My dearest Stacia and Lila

As we come together in love and grief, the deep shock waves of Matthew’s passing are surely transforming into sound. This sound resonantes with compassion, with the potential of the society of peace that we can create.

I had the honour of playing with Matthew in Seattle, and later he joined our crazy Japanese-American group FoMoFlo to tour Italy. I’ll never forget how much he savoured every moment – the music, the food, the people, the architecture, the comedy, the history…May we all find inspiration from his open sight of the world.

with all my love

Amy Denio

Jeff Muller

I will miss Matt very much. The news of his accident has me stunned. I had the good fortune to work with him musically as a member of iv bricouleurs, and also to have him as a great friend. My thoughts are with all who are suffering this loss.

Jeff Muller

Larry Marotta

Stacia and Lila: I cannot imagine your grief. I only wish I was closer.

It is hard to measure the effect Matthew Sperry has had on my life. We were friends for almost 20 years and, even though we lived far apart for most of the last 15 or so, we always kept in touch. Sometimes he called to talk about music, but recently it was about more mundane matters as our daughters or whether or not he thought it was a good idea to become involved in a glam rock musical (I didn’t think it was as good an idea as he did. Shows what I know.)

Matthew was the first man that ever really hugged me. Not the stiff, compulsory family hugs between the emotionally-repressed men of my clan. But a genuine, loving hug. The awkward, emotionally-repressed sort that I was, I didn’t enjoy them at first, but when I last saw him at his wedding, they felt pretty natural. They felt good.

We shared a lot of the same formative musical experiences: playing in our terrible high school stage jazz band, trading records and the names of musicians, and playing in the now infamous Wooden Diaper (Lila: wait until you see a video of this when you’re older. Watch your dad sing the “Smokey and the Bandit” theme dressed in a woman’s nightgown! Pure genius.)

Matthew, more than any of my other friends, seemed to be there when I was at some low points. He supported me in high school when I was unmercifully picked on for my odd ways. When I was in the throes of a near-suicidal depression in my early 20s, I fled to his place in Tallahassee for a few days where he looked after me.

But I especially remember the last few days we spent together around the time of his and Stacia’s wedding. He picked me up from the airport, took me to eat, and then drove me home where we spent the whole day working on music for the ceremony. This is the first time we had played together in years, and I was amazed that he wanted my involvement in this process at all. Although I had over 20 years of playing, I was way out of practice and had thought the musical part of my life was over. I was WAY outclassed.

But when I went home, I was inspired to get my act together. I started practicing. I starting setting up shows. I started touring. Matthew was my inspiration and motivation during this time. I looked forward to speaking to him so I could show him how involved I now was in improvised music. Yes, I’ll admit that I was a bit jealous when he could call to say he played with Tom Waits or Fred Frith. But it motivated me.

His influence on me has been total. If I have any regrets, it is not telling him this to his face when we was here.

I think, in this life, all we can really hope for is that we touch the people we know, that we love them, that we make a difference. Seeing all the wonderful posts here, I see a person who accomplished this goal. Some people live twice his 34 short years and never come close to the love Matthew brought to his friends and fellow musicians.

I thank him for helping me feel the way I feel now, for being a role model of a man who can be loving and emotional and giving. So it is not with anger, not with regret, or insurmountable grief that I write this. I write it with joy, great joy for having known a person such as this.

Oh, and he would hate me for doing this, I’ll be happy to tell anyone who wants to know about when Matthew played Johnny Casino in “Grease” in high school. Oy vey!

Brad Fischer and Katherine Setar

Brad and I knew Matthew best through his excellent playing, but we were both impressed by his easy-going, gentle personality. When we heard the news, we both said, “what a shame. Such a nice guy.” I hope I am remembered as being as nice and kind person as Matt when my time comes.

Brad Fischer and Katherine Setar


I knew matthew as a father. I met stacia when we were both pregnant, our babies are just 8 weeks apart. She was with me for the birth of my second child, I couldn’t have done it without her support. My memories of Matthew are of a wonderful cook who always feed me when I was hungry. He was the only person in the world who could convince me to try beets. For my first year of motherhood I practically lived at Matthew and Stacia’s house, they were my family, Matthew was a second father to my son. He was always dancing with Lila and Noah, some days he was the only one who could calm Noah down. I could talk to him about anything, just like another mom. I feel so honored to have known him, to have been a part of his life and have him as a part of mine, a part of the story of my family.

To Stacia, I’m with you. Your daughter still has a father and we will be the ones to help her remember and know him, our memories will be her memories. You are not alone, you will not raise Lila alone. You and Matthew built a village, let us be the ones to see you and Lila through this. I wish I could shoulder this pain for you, all I can do is help you carry it.

All my love to you always.


Pete Morrissette and Cherri Bell

I came to Matt’s website to confirm its URL so I could brag to a friend I was e-mailing about My Friend the Famous Musician. Now I find that he was killed yesterday and am trying to hold it together since I am still at work and there is no one to relieve me. Matthew, you wonderful warm generous man…I can’t believe you are gone. I first met you in Seattle in 1991 and I loved your friendly spirit immediately. It was like we were longtime friends. We hung out for awhile and I lost touch with you, but then you were next-door neighbor to the woman I married who was also friends with Stacia and we became friends again. I moved to Alaska and you moved to San Francisco. We stopped in briefly to see you in December and spoke of Cherri’s plans to visit you in May and you insisted I visit, too. I’m so glad I did because I got to spend seven happy days with you and your family and now I’ll never get to see you again. Now I’ll never forget how happy you were that Cherri and I cooked for you, I’ll never forget you kissing your wife and daughter with the greatest contentment, and I’ll never forget your boyish glee when we went to go see a late-night showing of X-Men 2 together, just us boys. I have so many more wonderful memories of you too. Rest in peace, my friend, I love you. Stacia and Lila, we love you and are here for you.

Jarrad Powell

Matt Sperry was a great artist, friend, and free spirit – simply one of the most genuine and best people I ever met. Those many hours I spent making music with him when he was in Seattle I now realize were a gift. I am grateful for that and I will miss him so very very much. My heart goes out to everyone who knew him and especially to Stacia and Leila. It is a great loss. My love to all of you who are sharing in this loss.

Jarrad Powell

Aiko Shimada

My deepest condolences go to Stacia, Lila, and his family.

I met Matt through music, sometime in 1993 or 94, soon after I moved to Seattle. He was immediately one of my favorite people. He gave me so much encouragement and support. To me, he was like a caring brother, who was frank and straightforward, but warm and caring all at the same time. I looked up to him and often wished that I could be like him – so grounded and so comfortable with himself. It is rare to meet a person like him. I feel incredibly lucky to have known him. He will always live within me.

Mark Collins

I’m one of the many who have been deeply affected by Matt. We met in ’93, not too long after Aiko and I had moved to Seattle. He knew my name before I knew his. He was very present,and was nothing if not affectionate and supportive, as well as sweetly mocking when it seemed one was taking himself too seriously. His musicianship seemed to me unfathomably rich and alive. Honestly, I knew him just enough to love him as a friend, because he was just that way, you know? Like so many I’ll never forget you Matt. Love to Stacia and Lila.

Perry James

The news of Matt’s passing is so dishearteningly sad. My heart goes out to his wonderful Stacia and Lila. I hired Matt to play bass for Hedwig back in Oct. I remember he came into the audition with some rather humorous face make-up and a really strange “glam-punk” stage outfit. Looking at him initially, I had to hold back a laugh. But once he started playing, it was evident he was going to be the bass player in the Angry Inch. He thought the get-up would give him an edge in getting the gig, I told him later he didnt need it. The coming months really showed what a trouper he was. I have great memories of him scarfing down his dinner between songs at soundcheck, usually some Chinese food he had just grabbed across the street from the Victoria or some wonderful smelling Middle Eastern food from home. I remember him patiently letting the makeup and clothing designers have their way with him, trying one outrageous costume on after another and finally settling on the canary yellow leather pants and the shocked out white fur vest. He performed some of the silly stage choreography in the show but didn’t care how silly he may have looked doing it as long as it benefitted the show. The priceless look on his face at soundcheck when the guitarist and I would break out some ridiculous Van Halen, AC/DC or Journey song that he didnt know but would still make a valiant stab at it and then getting razzed by us for his avant-garde background and not having his arena rock chops. No matter what the situation, Matt’s smile would clue you in as to how he really felt about something, either incredulous, amused or just plain happy. His take on things was always rooted in reality. I am honored to have played with him and to have known him. Til we meet again……..

jason hann

How can you describe on Angel? This was Matthew Sperry to me. He was clearly my largest musical and social influence when I started school at North Miami Beach Sr. High. He opened my headspace to an infinite world of music with room for everyone’s expression. The kind of person that made every musical situation pure delight with his warm smile and relentless effort to make great music. We could be playing at the high school talent show (he would shrug at this point) in diapers (he would smile and say “oh god”at this point) with Wooden Diaper , or down in Coconut Grove playing jazz and Phoebe Snow tunes at the Peacock Cafe…it didn’t matter…the music would always be sincere and heartfelt coming from him. We could be playing the strings inside of the piano with only the exit light on, eating at the A & W’s between Wiz rehearsals at P.A.V.A.C., or dancing (ala Greatful Dead style) in circles around Sharon Jarnigan (supermodel type) at the 163rd St Mall in full Float Commitee gear and holding a boom box blasting Donna Summer’s “Bad Girls”…it didn’t matter…it would always be sincere and heartfelt.

There are so many great stories with Matt, but the greatest is when I saw him for the first time with Stacia. His life seemed filled with love like I had never see him before. After Lilah was born, the love cup rannith over. His voice sang with joy and happiness. He carried his family in his heart and it showed through every pore in his skin. I’m a comp;ete heel for not keeping in better touch with him and his family the past few years, but I never stopped loving my big brother. ..

Of course he would be annoyed by me, reminicing like this; but I would expect nothing less from Matt. He is truly an Angel that I’ve been honored to share part of my life with. I miss you Matt. Keep your star shining so I can find you again when it’s my time.

With love, Splash

(Jason and Brenda, Momma Hann, Captain Harry, Stasia)

Christian Amsler

I am still numb and angry over this tragic loss. I only knew Matt for a short time, but in that time I felt I had made a new friend. He was a very unassuming individual. A “true” individual who made me feel right at home with his mellow and positive vibes my first few weeks with Hedwig. Playing music every night with Matt, it didn’t take long for me to realize that he was a natural musician. The gift of music came so easy to him. It was his second nature and I respected and envied that greatly. But more than any of these things, first and foremost, Matthew Sperry was a family man. He was so proud of Stacia and Lila. He spoke of them every night in our dressing room. Their bond was truly magical. We were all sad when Hedwig closed, but I got the feeling that Matt was a bit excited to now be able to spend more time with his family.

Stacia and Lila, Abbey and I send our deepest sympathies. Our thoughts are with you.

And Matt, wherever you may be, Rock On!

Love always, Schlatko

Bessie Weiss

I was lucky enough to work with Matthew. And I am lucky enough to have had him as a friend. He had an open mind, an open heart, and a great passion for the things that mattered – his family, his friends, his music, and food.

His loss is huge, but it is extraordinary how he has touched so many people. I am glad to know that someday Lila will be able to read about what kind of a man her father was, and how he affected so many people with his love of life.

My heart goes out to you Stacia and Lila. You are in my thoughts.

Morgan Guberman

When I first heard about this tragedy I was immediately reminded of a dear friend and musician that was taken from this earth in the very same way over three years ago. Flashes of his memorial and of Matthews image playing the bass whirled around me. A couple hours after hearing the news I got on my own bass and played for/with Matthew. It was the only thing I could do to calm myself. It’s the type of loss that’s inconceivable and heartbreaking. Matthew was/is pure gold. I feel so fortunate that I had the opportunity to play, record, and experience his loving kindness first hand. The last time I saw Matthew was at a Spezza Rotto show at the Oakland Metro. He came up to me after the show and said ” that was beautiful Morgan, absolutely beautiful”. One thing we all must remember is that once you’ve experienced someone you have them with you forever. No tragedy can ever take that away. My heart goes out to you Statia, Lila, and all of Matthews friends and family.

Thank you Matthew for being a part of my life. When graced with your presence I always felt like a better person.

To the Universe and beyond,

Morgan Guberman

Karen Stackpole

I’m stunned and feel great sorrow to hear of Matthew’s sudden passing…my heart goes out to Stacia and Lila. It seems so unreal, like it can’t be true. I’m reminded that we must never take life for granted or allow ourselves to be numbed by the day to day…every day is a treasure, and every friend a blessing. We’re all fortunate to have known Matthew and to have been touched by his wonderful spirit and musical creativity. He will be missed by many, and my prayers and love go to his family and his spirit.

To your next journey, Matthew. We all love you.


Christian Asplund

I thought I was holding it together until I started reading these postings. Then I lost it. I don’t feel articulate at all to express my feelings through these tears. The first thing I thought was, a giant has fallen. Ditto to everything that has been said. When I lived in Seattle, Matt played on almost every composition project I put together. His playing was indescribably beautiful, and, as it is with most players, it was a reflection of such beauty within. The last time I saw Matt was in the fall when I did the recordings and performances in the Bay Area with Matt and Phil Gelb. I had such a wonderful time with Matt and Stacia and Lila who were such generous hosts. My deepest sympathies go out to Stacia and Lila.

Paul Clark

I heard a Tom Waites track playing somewhere here in Fremont, Seattle today and thought of Mathew. I was thinking about how he introduced me to Ethiopian food one lunchtime in between doing whatever while at in Madrona and got to wondering how he managed to be such a nice guy while all around was chaos and craziness. And then I get home and read the email. How very very sad.

Anita Shankar

Stacia and Lila,

The community that you have nurtured is here to nurture you. I am so sorry to hear about your loss.

Anita & Shiva

Aaron Olson

Stacia, Lila, Matthew’s extended family and family of friends,

I would like to offer my deepest condolences.

Matthew was a warm, compassionate, funny, talented, sincere and inspirational person and will be missed dearly by all who have crossed paths with his life here including myself.

I wish you the very best in this enormously challenging time,



Matthew had the kind of love for the world that most people could never feel safe in exposing. Every time I saw him he gave me so many ways, by example, to be a better friend, parent,lover. He was open to love, open to art, open to the world.

When I heard what happened, I remembered a crystal moment: my son Milo was four months old and being part of an epic Baby Posse,we as usual were hanging out at Matthew and Stacia’s. All the other moms and I had drifted to another room with all the babies in tow except for Milo who was hanging out in the living room with Matthew. I hear this intense and beautiful music and peer in to see. Matthew is playing his bass for my son with such passion,such love, with all the fire of performing in front of a large crowd and he’s giving all that love and intesity for a small noodle. He was pouring it all out for my baby and for that I will always have him close. Milo will always have a part of Matthew in his heart.

To Stacia: words don’t say a thing but we love you

To Lilinski Chica Miss Chica: meet us at the park and we’ll sing and dance until the sun sets.

Moe! Staiano

I heard of Matthew’s death after getting off of work (not really a good thing to hear or feel after getting off work since work is no fun, either). It was pretty strange. Matthew’s last ever performance was in my orchestra, the

Moe!kestra! on the 3rd of June, 2003 playing my Piece No. 7. His presence was always warm, accompanied with a smile and great playing. My girlfriend, Vicky Grossi, was watching him throughout most of the performance, saying that she sensed that he was “in the zone”, a good place for true musicians to be in. He was, as always, in fine form.

I always loved how he ended his emails to me, with his XOXO, MATTHEW SPERRY. I found it homourous in a cute, flirtacious, innocent way, though I know it just was his way of ending a message in a happy, warm way.

With the passing of so many other people this past month (Rob Berger’s wife in a white rafting accident and the former guitarist from Ubzub, Brian Platt), we’re reminded that life is precious and we need to take each day to its fullest.

He had so much. I wish I could trade places and keep him here. He’ll be missed by everyone who adored him.


-Moe! Staiano

Ernesto Diaz-Infante

I heard the sad news about Matthew Sperry from Rent Romus last night. I can’t still believe it. My condolences go out to his family and friends. It’s so sad to lose a kindred spirit in the community. He’ll be missed.



Holly McGuire

It is Matt’s presence in my everyday that I will miss most sorely. Patrick and I have lived above Matt and Stacia, and then Lila too, since just after they moved into their house. They helped make this new city home to me, and broadened our world with stories of this place or that where good things were to be had or seen or heard. And Matt, as he moved about the place, inside and out, was a constant earnest and cheering presence. He took on the challenges of homeownership with confidence that if he persevered he’d figure it out–and he did. I know that in the dark times since September 11 it has made the world feel more solid and hopeful to have Matt and Stacia and Lila in my life.

Many of my memories of Matt are from an angle, since we exchanged all sorts of information with me poking out from the window above the street, and him craning his neck upward. I remember one morning especially, back when Lila was newly born, and the head of our bed was by the window. I was awake early, and peered down from the window to see Matt emerge from the house in the gray half light of dawn. He crossed the street with a small bundle of Lila in his arms and began pacing the block, up and down, up and down, talking softly and singing to Lila, giving his tired wife a chance to sleep a little longer. He glanced up at some point and saw my face in the window, and broke into that full-faced smile of his, and called out softly, hello!

Hello Matthew. There is so much left to say and do. I am not ready to say goodbye.

To his family and friends, I wish you strength, and urge you to be so careful of yourselves in these hard times. I am so so sorry for our loss.

Stacia, Lila. I have no words big enough. We are here.

Holly McGuire

Liz and John Falconer

Some people are more ALIVE than others!

Matt was one of them. It was sure great playing with you, and our boys will never forget the image of you putting a whole garlic in your mouth at the end of a meal at Malay Satay, to ward off a cold.

Our hearts go out to your two special girls. It just ain’t fair.

Greg Campbell

Walking down the Ave today in Seattle’s University District, I spied the Himalayan Sherpa restaurant that opened while Matthew still lived here. I tried to make Christian Asplund guess who first told me about it. It took him just a couple of guesses to name Matthew, who was always on the look out for a unique experience, a way to find out about other people in the world and what they do. It was particularly poignant when Christian and I came back to my house and got the phone call with that terrible, terrible news, not only because we’d just been remembering Matt’s genuineness and contagioius excitement, but because the CD we all recorded together a few years ago, about to be released, was fresh on our minds. Matthew tried to come up for the event, but his busy life in the Bay Area made it impossible. If he’d been able to come, would things be different? No one can say. But we would have gotten to see him again for the first time in a few years, gotten one of those unfeigned hugs and greetings, something we can’t do again now. All we can do is try to save that legacy by being as loving to other people as Matthew was to all of us.

Landon Ray

Life is too delicate. It’s so hard to remember, and so awful to be reminded this way. Did he wake up and wonder if he’d make it through the day? Did Stacia imagine that she’d have a child to raise without a father? Too raw, unreal. Just a moment ago I was working in the yard, and now there’s life and death to consider, again.

Stacia, your loss overwhelms me. Lilas loss. And at the same time I know that your strength, love, passion, and vitality will move you through this absurd tragedy in a way that will be, again, an inspiration. Lila is so lucky to have you. Please count on me for whatever I can do to help you through this.

Matthew, thank you for your life. Thank you for loving my dear friend the way she’d always hoped she’d be loved. Thank you for Lila. And for what you inspired in all these people over the years. You did beautifully.

My god, it’s just so hard to understand.

scott colburn

The first email I read today 6-6-03 was that announcing this horrible accident. Matt was one of the “good ones”. I had recorded him many times in many different situations and I remembered him as an outstanding bass player. We used to call him “studio ace”. He the first bass player to tell me why bass is difficult to record. He siomply said that most bass players play flat. He also told me that knowing this gave him an edge because he would purposly sharpen his playing when reecording. That’s why the recordings I did with him were steller. A true master of his instrument. I can’t believe he’s gone.

damon smith

i still cant believe it. he was always supportive of me, and others. he found a way to keep relationships strong while still having strong opinions. i also must say he was a a very technically acomplished player, i always meant to get lessons from him. since he was so busy with his family and career, i did not see him much even though he was 5 blocks away.

when you say he was “nice guy”, he REALLY was. not in a fake california way but very real.

he is really the last one this should happen to.

i had great conversation with him less than two weeks ago. i learned so much from him, just about dealing with people. he was going to do an important recording i was unable to do, and i remeber feeling really good about it. the last concert i saw of his was a fantastic sextet. it had a profond effect on my approach to the quintet project i had coming up.

any i will always remmber him as a great person and player.

it is an unbearable loss. im sorry stacia and lila.


p.s. lets not forget his fantastic trio cd with john butcher and gino robair.


i am honored to have known and loved matthew. his life is an inspiration, his laugh intoxicating, his love for life catching, and his adoration of stacia and lila beautiful and humbling…

i miss him. all my love matthew.


I didn’t know Mathew. I learned of his death through the neighborhood email group. I am deeply saddened to learn of his loss. My heart reaches out to his daughter Lila, wife Stacia, and his friends and family. Take care Mathew, where ever you are.


Andy Bartlett

I had the pleasure — and it was indeed a wonderful rush — of writing about Matt’s music while he was an anchor in the Seattle improvised music scene. His excitement at being heard was palpable, as was his warmth. I can’t claim great personal closeness, but Matt was always, always so excited to spend even a minute at a gig or anywhere just hanging out and catching up. And he had such a joy on stage when playing that you couldn’t help feeling intense joy watching and listening. Now it’s intense sadness at his loss –but still joy at having known and heard him.

ben silverman

Through grief and tears and an utter loss for words, I send my sincerest sympathies to Stacia and Lila and the Sperry family.

The loss of Matthew leaves a huge and indelible void in our hearts.

Matthew: We will always love you, as we loved you in life.

Jeff Herre

The wind was knocked out of me when I read the terrible news this morning. I’m still very much in a state of shock, and I am not looking forward to this sinking in.

My partner Rodney, posted earlier about our first meeting Matthew. What he didn’t mention is that our first conversation happened in a theater lobby when Matt introduced himself to us and said that I had interviewed him for a job and not hired him. In what I came to know as a typical Matthew response, he laughed it off and said it really did turn out for the best and that was the start of our friendship.

When I talked about Matthew, I almost always prefaced it with ‘The NICEST person I have ever met…’ One hears phrases like that at terrible times like these, but in this case it was certainly the truth. As others have mentioned, even if you saw him only rarely, he always made you feel like you were THE person he most wanted to see and spend time with.

He was also one hell of a musician. In my mind I have a vivid history of him stroking, plucking, banging, caressing, and becoming one with that bass that was often his voice. He was always as wonderful to watch as he was to hear, and he was always full of gratitude for folks who enjoyed his talents.

I’m not much of a wedding person, but when he married Stacia, it was one of the most beautiful events I have ever experienced. Everything about it was beautiful – the love that was contagious that filled the hall, the music, the friends, the food, the smiles. Matthew and Stacia glowed. Love won. When we received news that they were parents, I remember that Rodney and I were thrilled that the world would be getting two amazing parents. We thought Lila must be a most fortunate girl indeed.

And right now, none of this makes sense – and I send my warmest thoughts to Stacia, Lila, and all of Matthew’s family and friends. This is just very, very sad.

There was something very full circle, that night when Matthew was on TV playing with Tom Waits – this person I had idolized for decades on stage with this person I actually KNEW who was ‘the nicest person I have ever met’ – I think I emailed everyone I ever met to tell them how exciting it all was…I must have watched that tape 100 times, it was all just so very unreal, and it just made me smile and smile and smile. I cherish that memory.

Suzanne O'Malley

I have worked with Matt’s mother for about 13 years or so. She is a wonderful woman and there was nothing that I loved to hear more than her stories about Matt. I always asked about him even though I did not know him personally. It was clear to me that he lived every day to the absolute fullest and had a beautiful and rich perspective on life. I spent a wonderful day with Harriet driving around Colorado Springs listening to a tape of the Gamelan Pacifica group that Matt performed with. I still play that tape. It evokes a wonderful and peaceful feeling. Matt was surely a rare and special person. I feel fortunate even to have just heard the stories of his life. I share the sorrow of all who loved him.

Suzanne O’Malley

andrew drury

Matthew is truly one of my heroes, a dear friend though I haven’t seen him in several years. What a beautiful human being, a huge inspiration, a peer who regularly went far beyond the boundaries of what seemed possible in my world at that time, who continues to challenge me. He rocked my world. What a sweet wonderful strong guy. I can’t believe we don’t get to hang and play with him again, realize more potential…

I remember clearly seeing him for the first time— Matt was at the Penny University Cafe in Seattle, probably in 1994, playing with Aitsi (Christian Asplund, Rob Reigle…). Matt reminded me of a spider–hunched, crouched around his bass, dancing with it, contorting it and himself into all kinds of shapes and sounds. I hadn’t seen anyone be so physical and childlike in this way with a bass and I was surprised how good he sounded. I immediately knew this was a musician I had to play with, and over the next years in Seattle in various gigs, recordings, seders, parties, potlucks, Wayne Horvitz’s basement, eating Chinese veggie duck in Olympia, looking at a stars on an extraordinarily clear mountain night with Wally Shoup after a bizarre gig near Yakima, midnight skinny dips in Lake Washington, he expanded my world–musically, politically, culinarily…

After some time of no contact with him after I moved to NYC and he to Oakland, I chanced to write him an email the day Lila was born, telling him that my wife Alissa was pregnant. He wrote back full of enthusiasm, love, and joy, recommended to me several books on the birth process, including one called Spiritual Midwifery which became very important in shaping my sense of what it was meaning to become a father and create life. In a way Matthew was a spiritual midwife to me and I’m sure many others lucky enough to hang with him…

thank you Matthew, I love you….

Jane Scolieri

Matthew. I still catch myself thinking I’ll see your smiling face at your desk as I walk by. I was just joking around with you at work on Tuesday. We were talking about music for a project we’re doing together on Wednesday with another teammate, and you shared a Luna bar with me.

Stacia and Lila, we’ll do whatever we can here at work to help. Julian and Anna, love and hugs to you both.

I told my 8 yr old son, Nico, about Matthew dying, and he said, ‘But Mom, he has a baby!’

Man, I’ll miss your slow smile, your easy-going nature, your forward-thinking, your joyful spirit.

Stacia, I wish you strength and support in the times ahead..

Love and Peace,

Jane (Matt’s supervisor at Leapfrog for the last 2 1/2 months.)

arrington de dionyso

i haven’t seen matt for years but i was so excited for him and stacia when i heard he was a father. i have always felt deeply indebted to matt for introducing me to so much new music and ways of approaching that music. he gave so much encouragement. matt was the first person to invite me to play in an improvised music festival anywhere (this was in seattle) now here i am organizing my own festival nine years in a row. stacia i only met you once- i was stuck in oakland on my own and just by accident ran into matt in front of amoeba and he let me ride with him all the way back up to seattle. I think it was one of the last trips he made down before he had decided to move down permanently to be with you. we had a long drive and spoke of many things, he was so excited to make the move to be with you, clearly a man in love and perfectly clear about it.

arrington de dionyso

Tom Baker

Matthew was a very special person and one of the most talented and foward-thinking artists I have ever known or worked with. He was a very important influence on my music and my life, and I will truly miss him. My thoughts and condolences go out to his family, friends and the musical communities that he was such an integral part of.


Tom Baker

Eddy Young

I have never met, nor heard about Matthew. But reading your post and the comments, I know he was a very good person who left this world to early and I cannot help feeling sad for his wife and daughter. I present to them my sincere sympathy.

Francis Upton

I only met Matt once, at the Hedwig show, I talked to him for a little while after the show. I remember really liking him and wanting to get to know him better. Reading all of these comments about him and what he did made my cry. The world has lost a good man. I’m sad that I will never be able to get to know him.


Mosella Harris

To the Sperry Family,

Indeed this is a sad day for all of us. Matthew was a dear, sweet soul who will be truly missed by his family and friends. All of us here at Virage enjoyed working with him. For me, I will miss his encouragement and his smile. When I started studying to be a midwife, Matthew and his wife encouraged me by sharing their experiences with me (along with the video) of the birth of their beautiful daughter. I will never forget his kindness.

Our prayers are with you Matthew and your family.


Mosella Harris

Virage, Office Manager

Sara Schoenbeck

Knowing Matt for just a short time from hearing about him from harris, coming up to the bay area to play treatise with Gino and then the Pauline Oliveros concerts I considered myself lucky to have met him from the getgo. His warmth and openness permeated the atmosphere before he even said a word. Just his smile alone made me feel like he will be and infact already is a good friend. The first time we met and played he wrote a note for me to take back down to Harris in LA with a sign off of

XOXO, Matthew.

I thought to myself then, as Harris and I were saying to eachother today, that on a short list of the sweetest and truest people that I know he is at the top.

I will miss his inventive musicianship and miss him as a warm and open being.

I cant believe it.

To Stacia and Lila my strongest and most heartfelt condolences and thoughts got out to you.


sara schoenbeck

Sara Schoenbeck

Knowing Matt for just a short time from hearing about him from harris, coming up to the bay area to play treatise with Gino and then the Pauline Oliveros concerts I considered myself lucky to have met him from the getgo. His warmth and openness permeated the atmosphere before he even said a word. Just his smile alone made me feel like he will be and infact already is a good friend. The first time we met and played he wrote a note for me to take back down to Harris in LA with a sign off of

XOXO, Matthew.

I thought to myself then, as Harris and I were saying to eachother today, that on a short list of the sweetest and truest people that I know he is at the top.

I will miss his inventive musicianship and miss him as a warm and open being.

I cant believe it.

To Stacia and Lila my strongest and most heartfelt condolences and thoughts got out to you.


sara schoenbeck


Although I never met Matthew, I knew him through his mother, a woman who was so very proud of her son’s accomplishments. My heart goes out to his family and friends who are experiencing the worst kind of loss. May the Goddess give you each the strength to handle the loss, the peace to move on, and the love that his memories will bring forever.

In the sky, a bright new star shines.


I’m not able to write my feelings about Matthew at this moment. I’m Matthew’s cousin and friend, and am devistated.

I live in NYC, and I’m wondering how many of you are here? I’d like for all of us who love Matthew but are unable to get to the West Coast, to gather together and share out thoughts and our memories. I know Matthew would love to have us all meet. Perhaps this Sunday?

I’d like to plan a memorial service later in the summer, with music and performances…and perhaps Lila and Stacia could join us…

If you’re a New Yorker, or live in the vicinity, will you contact me??


With love,


Win Aldrich

The first time we met Matt several years ago we said what an incredible couple he and Stacia make- and then there was Liela. The world has lost a remarkable person, husband and father. I remember the three of you dancing with abandon and happiness at Elliott and Ellen’s wedding last September. Shalom

Jenya Chernoff

My heart is breaking for you Stacia and Lila, and for a world without Matthew Sperry. He was one of the sweetest and best people I ever met, and I felt privileged to play music with him. He radiated an incredible spirit of life and love. There are no words for such a loss. I know that spirit remains with all of us who knew him, and will continue to inspire us all to create more joy and laughter and music. Goodbye, Matt.

Joe Noyes

I’m truly blessed to have know Matthew Sperry during his working tenure at Virage. We talked regularly about kids and his music. Having two children of my own, I had to call them immediately after hearing of the devastating news of Matthew’s death. His departure is a constant reminder of how easy it is that we can leave this life. My heart and prayers go out to him and his family. This is truly a sad day.

Brian Walker

Dear Stacia,

Even though Matthew and I worked together at Leap Frog, I didn’t get to know him very well. When I heard the news, I remembered the last time we had a conversation. It was a job interview, and I remember not just liking Matthew, but I had the immediate sense that he was a sincere, gentle and loving person who was one of those rare people who lived life from the heart. I imagined him to be not just a talented musician, but a devoted husband and father as well. Judging from the other posts, I was right, and it√≠s comforting to hear that he was obviously loved and appreciated by many other people.

-Brian Walker

Sheri Cohen

Dear Stacia, Lila, and all Matt’s friends and family:

I last saw Matt shortly after Lila was born. It was such a joyous moment to share with you all. I remember sleeping in your little guest room and talking with you both about Lila’s birth. Matt was so excited to have been a part of it. He was very animated when telling the stories.

I saw Matt go through many transformations since I first met him in aroun 1995 in Seattle. He was my friend and collaborator. His music grew deeper and wilder as his commitment to it grew. He was a true artist, interested in music in all realmsó dance, theater, streets, clubs, concert halls. By the time he left for California, his new focus on his relationship with Stacia seemed to focus his music even more.

I’m very sad. I send my love to Matt and to you all.


PS: I’m sorry not to make it to California to be with you all for Matt’s funeral. I plan to go to Volunteer Park in Seattle at 9:30 PM on Tuesday, June 10 to remember Matt. I invite all who would like to join me to meet at the ‘donut’ and we can go off to a quiet place together. Please contact me if you need better directions.

Ron Thompson

First of all, my sincere condolensces to Stacia and Lila and Matthew’s family.

My first really powerful memory in getting involved in the Bay Area creative music scene was seeing Matthew play a duet with Carla Kihlstedt at Beanbenders. It was a transcending moment and something that I will always treasure.

Matthew was first and foremost a family man and next an incredible artist. His contribution to the art world will reverberate thru us forever.

We’ll miss you Matthew.

Ron Thompson

Gail Brand

I met Matthew last year on my first trip to Oakland from London, to check out the lovely and welcoming community of musicians you have there, at the invite of Gino Robair. We recorded over at Myles Boisen’s studio along with Gino, John Shuirba and Tim Perkis – we became ‘Supermodel Supermodel’ and the quintet enjoyed some great recording days and some great gigs. Matthew made me laugh so much (one such moment is caught on tape and can’t be repeated here – but as I’m sure you’ll gather, it made me howl with laughter) and pulled me in to the music in a compelling and creative way. The CD we made is wonderful and I hope it can be out there for all to hear very soon. On the couple of occasions that we hung out, Matthew, Stacia and Lila made me feel so welcome (as all you guys do) and I observed their family dynamic with fondness and a wish that I could be that happy. I send my love, compassion and deepest thoughts of support to you, Stacia and Lila and all of Matthew’s family and friends at this time. His loss can’t and won’t ever make any sense to me and I feel sad to be so far away from you all and the community of Bay Area musicians at this time.

I wish you love and offer the notion that music will speak volumes at this let’s play. My next gig will be dedicated to his memory.

Gail Brand, trombonist, London, UK

Allisong and Asa

Dear Stacia,

I am stunned by what has happened. I hope you know that the support group you manifested is now a support for you and Lila. Though I have only come to a handful of the gatherings, I feel connected to you and offer any real support that my family can give, and that includes anyhting from the spiritual to the mundane– housecleaning, food shopping, meal preparation, you name it. Honestly. When Asa wakes, I plan to come by– I hope that’s okay. If not, we will leave.

Your loved partner is with you in your heart and soul. His light is shining through Lila. I send you all the deepest love and prayers.

Allisong and Asa

Brent Arnold

Matt, goodbye. we miss you.

to you, and Stacia and Lila too, all my love.


Elliott Aldrich

For now you may leave a memorial at the site of Matthew’s accident in his honor and memory.

Powell and Vallejo, Oakland, CA


It is a know dangerous intersection. Please be very careful.

patrick barber

i met matthew through our music in the 90’s in seattle, and i have been fortunate enough to get to share a house with him and his family the last three years. with him i have shared music, laughter, so many standing-on-the-porch conversations i can’t count, bits of leftovers from korean restaurants, and all the oddments, joys, and frustrations of everyday life.

the backyard is in full bloom now, and we had all just started talking about having dinner together outside sometime. Not a big dinner party, just two families and a bowl of pasta or something. holly and i returned from a trip on Monday and matthew and lila came out back to say hi while we were watering the garden. I told matt all about the crazy great food we had in LA — the korean handmade noodles (he told me where to find them in berkeley), the oaxacan asiento-smeared tostadas, the reuben sandwich at canter’s. he got so excited, and kept pointing his fork at me, giving me another bite of his cucumber ginger salad he was eating (and sharing) out in the backyard.

i am so proud of the life he led, the kindness and love that he gave to his friends and the world. i miss him so much. stacia, lila, you have all our love and support, and as much chicken soup as you can stand.

to all the music we made, the bread we broke, and sitting on the porch talking, ever and ever.


Beth Fryer

I last saw Matt on the night a bunch of us took my daughter to see the Hedwig show. After the show, we were standing on the sidewalk talking with Matt, all decked out in his Hedwig gear, and I was struck by his complete enthusiasm and love for what he was doing. I asked about Lila and Stacia and he got this big smile on his face and said that he wasn’t really getting enough sleep but that it didn’t matter. You could just see how happy he was, how much he loved his family, how excited he was about his work, and how much of himself he gave to the people around him and to everything he did. I didn’t know Matt well, but I will miss him.

scott rosenberg

There are no words, but I feel I want to try to say something anyway.

All I can really say is I feel incredibly lucky to have gotten to share every moment I did with Matthew and I feel profoundly saddened that I will not again, and that I ever missed an opportunity or didn’t try harder to see him whenever I could have.

I will never get to hear him laugh when I call him The Sparrow again.

I cannot believe this is real.

My deepest sympathies go out to you, Stacia and Lila.

Dave Reeck, Marcie Swift and Jasper

Marcie went to school with Stacia, which is how I came to know Matt. We were both thrilled when we heard that they were pregnant (not so very long ago). I don’t think I can add much about Matt beyond what’s been said already, he was definitely wonderful.

Stacia and Lila — our deepest condolences. We both enjoyed Matt very much, and can√≠t begin to fathom what a loss this must be for you. Beyond loosing a wonderful friend and human being, you√≠ve lost a partner and a parent. Our hearts go out to you. Please get ahold of us when you√≠re ready, we√≠d love to support you in any way we can.

Adventure Marriage Journal

Sad, sad news

Marcie just called me with some very sad news. Mathew Sperry, the husband of Stacia (whom Marcie attended Massage school with) and father of a 2 year old daughter, was killed while riding his bicycle. The first link above really…


What a terrible, terrible loss. Matthew was one of the inspirations that made me decide to start playing bass instead of guitar. Not his playing, which I never heard outside of Platanos Machos Quattros, but his personality, which was so understated and warm and friendly. He will be missed. Peace to Stacia and Lila and all who knew him.

Kerry Rose

My hear hurts, I am pissed, moved, awed but not suprised at the immense amount of love that Matthew generated through his presence.

I was just beginning to know you, Matt, and your family. I will treasure the memory of your spirit.

I can only hope that the grief of all those who knew him is tempered by knowledge of the great gift he was to us all.

Love to Stacia and Lila

Brian and Bobbi Davis

Like Mike Cumbermack I also played in Salsa Florida with Matt at Florida State. Everyone in that band was a very conscientious musician really trying to play to their fullest capabilitites. My wife, Bobbi, wasn’t a music major but she worked in the main office at the Scholl of Music and loved to go to the salsa gigs at the union’s “Down Under” bar. He was an excellent bass player who was very versatile and had a quick learning curve; he really helped make the band hop. When we would go on our mini-tours around Florida we always had good deep conversations about philosophy, politics, music,etc. On one of those tours he hipped me out to a book called “Ecotopia.” I hadn’t seen Matt since graduation in 1991 and I must say that he had drifted from my thoughts, nevertheless I glad to have been told about his passing instead of finding out when I’m an old man. My heart and thoughts go out to his family. As a husband and father myself it just makes my heart sink to think of the tragedy. Goodbye Matt.


Gerry Tenney

I only new Matt for less than a year and played a couple of gigs with him. Playing with him was a treat, but just as wonderful was his way of being in the world. I felt we were friends instantly. My deepest condolences to the family.

Gerry Tenney

Neal Troiano

My thoughts and prayers go to Stacia and Lila, family and close friends. Matt played for “The Underground Gardens” an opera, where I was the librettist. I was very nervous the opening night; Matt noticed this and offered some kind words of encouragement.

God bless him.

Love to all….

Neal Troiano

tim perkis

I know that what I’m about to say is absurd, since death can come to any of us at any time. But I think the shock of this news is so doubly great because Matthew seemed the least likely candidate — it’s hard to imagine someone more open, loving and alive.

I jumped at every chance I ever had to play with him, knowing that the music he would bring would be clear, exciting, and full of the good humor that he always radiated throughout his life. He had the kind of skill that never looked like mere skill, that disappeared in a larger musicianship that reflected who he was, that made everyone sound good, and, just as in even the briefest conversation with him, would leave you feeling happy and alive.

I had missed seeing and working with Matthew recently as his Hedwig gig took his time, and was happy to be playing with him again, a couple times in the last month or so. I was also looking forward to the first meeting this weekend of a new project with him and Harris Eisenstadt.

This is such a huge loss. My love to Stacia and Leila.

mary kate willett

been wailing NO all morning and when i was finally able to go to this site, it helped tremendously. to read the thoughts and insights of so many good hearts. so, thanks for putting it together. it’s hard to digest the loss of a person you loved but harder still when it’s someone like matthew. (and who is like matthew?) how could such a life force be not alive? how could such a sparkling joymaker be taken? this news is shattering. stacia i love you very much, and would do anything for you and lila. you are all three of the most lovely, delightful people i have ever known. i am truly heartbroken. and sending you lots of strength and peace and love. mk

Elliott Aldrich

Matt was a man who had enough kharmic credit to his name to avoid such a tragic fate a dozen times over.

In the puzzle of life, Matt and Stacia and then Lila fit together like nobody I know. His memory will live long beyond his time with us.

Merlin Coleman

I knew Mathew years ago in Seattle where we played together in Gamelan Pacifica, and he was a great player. When I moved he was one of the people I would spend time with on my return visits to Seattle. He lived in a collective apartment complex in a tiny basement apartment where the Bass seemed to take up the entire livingroon, but it always felt warm and welcoming, he always had something to offer. His quirky music and book collection was inspiring to me as he was always seeking out the odd and original and unsung people (he introduced me to Jaap Blonk). I have not seen Mathew very much in the past number of years, but I always wished I could see him more, it was so exciting to hear about the change in his life with Stacia and the arrival of Lila and I felt so much warmth and respect that he was taking care of his beautiful family. I have been in tears for much of the morning at this tragedy and thinking so much of Stacia and Lila and all of the warmth and generous creativity that was Mathew, I am so so sorry this has happened. I already missed him but now I miss him so much more for Stacia, Lila, and the whole community,

I hope he is at Peace,


Mike "Gumby" Cumbermack

Matt and I went to high school together – N.Miami Beach and PAVAC – School of the Arts. In March or so of ’86, he and I drove to FSU to audition for the School of Music. We stayed in contact while in college and made it a point to hang out every so often. We didn’t perform together for some years till he joined me in the Salsa Band. He had such an ear and a great feel for picking up new music ! … I hadn’t seen Matt since 91 or so – but since I live in LA was planning a visit to the Bay area to see him soon. Matt taught me how to be a lil more patient and open minded to different stuff like KING CRIMSON and ZEPPELIN. My musical growth wouldn’t have been the same without him. His mom could cook too ! My love goes out to the family. He’ll be missed

Barbara Speed

Matthew was SUCH a wonderful person, and our hearts are very heavy with the weight of losing him. He made the room light up and helped everyone around him feel special. Playing with him in the Red Hot Chachkas was always a pleasure, not just for his marvelous musicianship but also, and more importantly, for the spirit of fun he brought with him.

We put up another picture from the last job Matthew played with the RHC:

We miss you, Matthew.


Barbara and Fletcher

Tom Duff

It’s important (for me) to remember that Matthew was, first, a family man. His devotion to and palpable delight in Stacia and Lila radiated from him and brightened every room he entered. The last time I saw him was a couple of weeks ago at the Emeryville Public Market. I sat with him and his family as he and Stacia had lunch and Lila played in the ball room, stopping occasionally to grab a string bean from his plate. We talked a little about work and music, but it was his family, their future together and his evident joy in being a participant in their lives that dominated the conversation, as it dominated his life.

Bill Hsu

I was at the Moekestra gig this past Tuesday. Matthew sneaked up on me and surprised me with a hug.

It’s hard to believe that we’ll no longer have his wonderful presence and music to look forward to anymore.

Bill Hsu

Julie Egger

I have know Matthew for about 3 years. It is so funny how we met. Matthew was looking for a Klezmer band for Stacia and his wedding and had called me. We were looking for a new bass player. ( A match made in heaven) Matthew and Stacia hired us but before we even played he came to a rehearsal and checked us out. When we first spoke I felt connected to him immediately. The first time I met Matthew it was so easy, the whole band felt so connected. Matthew’s warm, genuine heart felt energy was immediate. We all loved him right away. When I heard about this horrible thing, I was in total shock, I’m still pretty numb but as I lay in bed last night, I kept flashing on all the times we have played together and rehearsed, and hung out. I can see Matthew and hear his voice. I see his enthusiasm everytime we were together, showing me pictures of Lilah, having Stacia at our gigs, laughing, making great music together. There aren’t really words to express the deep sadness that I and everyone who knew Matthew feels. He effected everyone around him with joy and love. I will deeply miss him. Julie Egger

Philip Gelb

I usually send out announcements of my concerts and of the meridian music series concerts to this list. I am very saddened to have to send this announcement.

Those who know me personally, know that Matthew Sperry was a very close friend for many years as well as a bass player i often worked with.

In 1990, i attended graduate school at the Florida State University School of Music. Shortly after arriving i was looking for a place to live and someone introduced me to Matt who was a junior at the music school, studying bass. I ended up moving into his apartment and for 2 years we were roommates. A close friendship began that we knew would last a lifetime but i had no idea that would be cut short by yesterdays tragedy when he was hit by a truck while riding his bicycle to work in Oakland.

I introduced Matt to new and avant garde music and he joined the New World Ensemble, a new music group that i was directing at the music school. While in this ensemble, Matt had a chance to play with the great composer, Leo Smith before moving to Seattle. This performance obviously influenced his direction that he took his music in. I remember asking him why he was moving to Seattle as neither he nor i had ever been there before. His reply, with his usual smile and great attitude was “Seattle is very far from Florida (a place he grew up and wanted to get far away from”. So shortly after graduating, he packed his car and went far across the country. We remained in close contact and when i first went out west, we played some trio concerts with violist Christian Asplund and other trios with percussionist Gino Robair. Eventually i moved to California I would make semi regular trips to Seattle and always crashed in his living room, sharing many wonderful meals together as we both loved to eat and cook. And always playing music together. Matt helped me to become an invited soloist with the Seattle Creative Orchestra, a group he helped to start. And he would come and visit the Bay area and perform with me, Dana Reason, Pauline Oliveros and numerous others. I was elated when Matt and his fiance, Stacia decided to move to California as well. We were back in the same town together and playing music regularly and spending a lot of time together. Both our music careers were moving along well and we were often either on stage together or one of us was on stage while the other one was in the audience enjoying themselves immensely. Stacia and Matt finally were married and i was asked to be in the wedding band to help them celebrate. The birth of their beautiful daughter, Leila, a little over 2 years ago brought tears to my eyes and i remember coming to their home the following day and seeing the most blissed out expression on Matt’s face. From then on, he was a very dedicated father who loved his daughter immensely. I always thought Leila was very fortunate to have a dad who was so kind and so much fun and so open.

Leila also seems to have a severe fascination with the sound of the shakuhachi and would be transfixed as soon as i let out one note. I will never forget, 2 years ago, at a concert i had with Pauline Oliveros and Dana Reason, i began the concert with a solo piece, playing an old Jewish melody, “Baym Rebbe Sude”. As soon as i played the first note, i heard the sound of Leila in the audience, let out a happy yelp. Right after the concert, Matt came up to me and said, “since when are you playing Jewish music on shakuhachi”?. That question began a new duet project of us playing old Jewish tunes.

Unfortunately we never did get to record this project. We did release one CD together a few years back which is now sadly out of print, a 4tet with Carla Kihlstedt and John Shiurba.

Last year, Matt played a key role in the big Pauline Oliveros 70th birthday party that i was part of the organizing committee by playing in the orchestra as well as putting together a performance of her piece, “Double Basses at 20 paces”

The last several months we have not seen much of each other. We traded many phone calls and emails talking about what each were doing. He became very busy playing in the Hedwig stage show as well as being a very devoted dad and husband and I was on tour alot. In January, we gave what is our last performance and recording together. Christian Asplund, now a professor of music at BYU was out here and wrote some new trio pieces for viola, shakuhachi and bass and we recorded them and performed them in Berkeley.

Matt and i planned to meet next week and maybe have dinner together at Chaya, one of our favorite places to eat.

Yesterday afternoon i received the devastating phone call about his accident.

I love Matt. He is one of the most important friends i will ever have!

Myself and his other friends will need to help Leila as she gets older to keep telling her stories about her incredible father and what a beautiful person he was.

Peter Monaghan

I’ve always thought Matt the most warmhearted, kind, gentle person. Every time you met him, no matter how long it was since you last did, the way he was made you feel like you were meeting your oldest and closest friend. He was a rare, beautiful, light-radiating soul. Going to any gig here in Seattle where Matt Sperry was playing, you were guaranteed the pleasure of warm greetings, Matt’s radiant presence, and of course his expansive music. A lovely man, and a huge loss.

garth powell

Matthew’s passing is inconcievable, unjust, and yet it’s so.

My last memory is from Tuesday night, (6/3/03) with the Moekestra, he was covering “cello” parts on his Bass, a difficult task for many, never for Matthew.

We spoke about music as always and looked forward to our next meeting in Jack Wright’s Quartet. I can’t imagine that setting without Matthew. The world’s full of great players and virtuoso’s, but they’re rarely so kind, and thoughtful.

One of Matthew’s traits I’ll always remember is how consistantly positive he was. It was infectous, and his presence could turn a sour setting around quickly. He’d bring humanity into the equation through example. All petty differences and insecurities would vanish, as we saw matters through his perspective.

It was a blessing to have known Matt Sperry. He will be missed.

Garth Powell


Seth Katz

I am still in shock that someone so full of life, love, and creativity could be gone. Stacia, don’t hesitate to call if you need anything, any time- I’m in the neighborhood.

There are photos of Matt in his Hedwig getup here:


Tom Bickley

Probably my most vivid memory of work with Matt was when I recorded his solo on the ArtShip which was released as Disc 8 in that series of ArtShip recordings.

For this project, each musician would select the location on the ship for their 20 minute improvisation, we’d setup the recording gear and record their performance. Matt found the mysterious space at the back and lowest level of the ship, a labyrinth of tiny chambers. He lovingly placed Leilah beside him and we experimented with placement of the stereo mic.

In that process I whanged my head on a very hard metal doorway. Matt and Hugh and Phil sat me down and with the help of some ice and these supportive comrades, we proceeded with the session. Matt played wondefully (of course), Leilah contributed perfect sounds and the result is Disc 8. Matt’s description/title of the disc is: claustrophilia: bass, cymbals, baby, icebag

It was a wonderful day! What a blessing! Pax, -Tom

Barry Stock

Matt and I played together in a group called Grecian Formula 69 in Tallahassee in 1988-89. We lived in the same house for a period, where one thing Matt found fun was chasing my cat Ivan around the house with a nylon-string guitar, strumming it wildly while the cat skittered on the wooden floors. Another fond memory I have is of eating with Matt at a wonderful Thai restaurant called Bahn Thai, where at the ordinary conclusion of the meal (empty plate), Matt picked his up, wiped the rest of the gravy off with his finger and licked it clean, leaving not a drop for the dishwasher.

We got to spend some time with Matt, Stacia and Lila when they visited here in March. Ironically, I made Matt a copy of the album by Magic Juan, featuring the late beloved drummer Will Ryan.

I think Matt was a genuine sweetheart, and I will miss him always.

The link below is a Grecian Formula song, where Mattís overdubbed bowed upright supplementing his fleet-fingered electric work makes the piece soar.

Damnit, damnit, damnit Matt, whyíd you have to go? See you on the other side, bro. Say hi to Will and Ivan for me.


Joe Zajonc

It was such an honor to play music with Matt. I have missed him since he moved from Seattle and was so happy when he would call and stay connected to us. I am so sorry to hear this. We played together for a number of a few years. When I was drumming, I loved the sound of his bass – I relied on him endlessly, an effort he took on tirelessly and happily. I suppose he was biking to work at his sound design job √Ī just like I bike to work at my sound design job everyday. I feel especially connected to him since we had little girls about the same time. Talking with him about our baby daughters was a great joy. I was looking forward to our friendship growing as our families changed and sharing that with him from time to time. I loved his descriptions of Lila. Stacia, you are wonderful. He must miss Lila and you terribly right now. And I miss him.


It is not often I weep for people I have never met, but your post makes me feel like I have met him, so I weep.

Matthew sounds like an incredible person. Like Brook, I have also been touched through his music without knowing him or even his name. I will miss someone I never met.

Sasha Motalygo

I had the honor of knowing Matthew Sperry in the last month. One particular memory: the love in his eyes as he looked at his daughter dancing, while he played the upright bass on the Victoria stage. I will remember the three of them: Stacia, Lila and Matt together – the most blissful trio I have ever seen. He welcomed all around him. My thoughts are with Stacia and Lila and all who loved Matt.

Phillip Greenlief

As a member of the bay area musical family, of which Matthew was an essential element, I can only express the overwhelming experience of shock at the news of Matthew’s fatal accident. Matthew gave and meant so much to the music through his playing; and his great attitude toward music and life in general made it easy to meet him, to hang with him, to hear him and to love him. Although he lived here and was a part of our local community, his history and life as a musician spread to many places around the world.

I am grateful we had some time to work together, both in small groups and in the Pauline Oliveros Sounding the Margins Orchestra. I felt the greatest respect for Matthew and from Matthew when we worked together on last year’s “Music for Extraordinary Children” project, funded by the City of Oakland.

I want Stacia and Lila to know that this music community that Matthew was a special part of expresses our deepest sadness at this enormous loss, and that we are all here for you if you need us for anything. I plan to organize at least one benefit performance to help honor his life and to raise funds to help with any expenses you may have.

Thanks to Scot for organizing this page for Matthew and Stacia and Lila, which allows us all to help grieve and express our thoughts and feelings. Now that I am able to write some words, the tears are able to flow freely – again, I have so far been in shock and can’t quite believe it.

I am thankful to be here and thankful to have known Matthew and to have had the great pleasure of listening to him. The world is a better place having received all the gifts he gave us – gifts of friendship, of kindness, of compassion and humor, and gifts of love and music.


Bridget Schulte

It’s heartbreaking to think that the physical world is missing someone like Matthew. While he was “just a coworker” at a job that I don’t even have anymore, he still managed to touch my heart. He was real and genuine and he loved everything worth loving – Stacia and Lila, music, people, creating things, laughs. He radiated it. I was lucky to have shared space with him, and my love goes out to his family and those who had the joy of knowing him deeper than I.

Brooks Seymore

Glancing over his resume, it seems rather likely I saw Matthew perform a few times around the Seattle area, mostly with the Black Cat Orchestra but probably also with Gamelan Pacifica a few years earlier. One of the Black Cat performances was at a bookstore where I work.

In some ways, it seems like that really isn’t all that much, to have simply seen him perform without knowing anything about him, not even his name. But, since music is a gift (especially of the sort he played), perhaps that is enough.

Sorry to hear about the loss.


adam schoen

I met my cousin Matthew for the first time at my dad’s wedding in the bay area a few years ago. I am sure we had met when we were younger, but nothing either of us remembered well. My father sat my now wife and I, with my sister and Matthew and Stacia at the same table and I had no idea who he was. I had just met a cousin I barely knew existed.

We all started talking and got to know each other. As it turned out, Matthew was like a long lost twin, in a way. We were both bass players (although it’s hard to consider myself a bass player after hearing his work) we had similar family backgrounds and shared a similar sense of humor. What struck me more than anything was how sweet and sincere he was. We bonded immediately – had so much in common – we spent time together that weekend before I flew home to Cincinnati – I just felt an instant connection to him and was so happy to have met such a fantastic relative. We kept in touch, not as much as I would have liked – but exchanged emails about news in our lives. I was proud when Lila was born and he just seemed so excited and full of life.

I last so Matthew when I was out in California with my band on tour in April. We had talked about meeting up – it was the second night of passover and he didn’t know if he could make the show. He called me earlier in the day to say he would try and make it after the dinner. Sure enough, with 2 songs left in our set, I caught a glimpse of him at the back of the room – smiling and looking so happy.

We got to talk for a long time after our set outside of the club. He told me he was so proud of me. It was so great to speak with him (he called me cuz) – about everything – his family, his new job, his music, how excited he was about Hedwig – how he was getting back into rock music and that he was going to buy an electric bass (he’d been borrowing one for his shows). He ran into several people who knew him there outside the club – a coworker, a friend…. I didn’t know that was the last time I would see him. We gave each other a BIG, long hug and then he took off.

I may have only really met him a few years ago – but I KNEW Matthew – Sweet, Kind, Affectionate, Loving, Sincere, Funny and Talented.

I love and miss you matthew.

cousin adam

Rodney Pond

Yes, Matthew’s hugs were saturated in genuine affection, he was always glad to see his friends and his friendship was a luminous gift. My partner Jeff and I would like to think that after his family we were the first Matthew Sperry fan club. Over ten years ago, at the beginning of Jeff & I’s relationship we frequented criminally underattended improv/avant-jazz music and film events here in Seattle. Often we were the only ‘real’ audience since the other 5 or 6 people were other musicians. At every event was this lanky, long haired goateed bassist/multi-instrumentalist who just radiated this impish joy in what he was doing. After attending several performances he began to recognize us and introduced himself. While the other musicians and performers took our presence for granted, even if we were the entirety of the audience, Matthew did not. We found out in our first introduction that Matthew and I shared many friends in Florida and in that isn’t it a small world moment, our friendship set root.

I could be here all day, writing Matthew stories from the past ten years, even though we were not his closest friends. He seemed to have time for everybody, for all his friends. And it occurs to me it feels that way because even if you only saw him once a year, he was entirely present to you, the warmth of that goofy smile and oblique humor was all yours and you knew there was enough for everyone. Matthew was the most naturally generous person I knew. He gave of himself without reservations.

Matthew honored me with his friendship, he shared his life with me as he did with so many of us unselfishly. To say he will be missed can not begin to describe the dimensions of our personal and collective sorrow.

My thoughts are with all of you, especially Stacia & Lila. I hope I can tell Lila stories about her Daddy someday. I hope I can go with her to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and tell her her Daddy took me there for one of the best birthdays I ever had.

Love to you all, and a Matthew Sperry hug.

Rodney Pond

Tony Phillips

I’m too stunned for words right now, but here’s the URL of Fletcher’s picture of Matthew playing (May 4, 2003, at the San Francisco Mandolin Festival), complete with “Hedwig” hair:

Doug Theriault and Cyndy Chan

Dear Stacia-

We are very sorry and in very deep shock right now. Matt was a very good friend and we were just about to visit you all next month. Our thoughts go out to you and your daughter.


This is very sad news. My thoughts go out to Matthew’s daughter and wife.

ethan quatorze

dear stacia,

i only met your husband once, but it was recently, at his show, and i saw clearly what a special person he was, and what a sweet daughter you have.

i send my love to you both;

i’m so sorry to hear about your loss.

your friend ethan quatorze.