I was deeply saddened to hear that a dear friend of mine named Peter Principle (née Dachert) passed away today. Peter was a truly remarkable person, a brilliant musician, and an inspiring intelligence.
Ever since my teens, I had seen him play bass in the amazing band Tuxedomoon, and admired his unique style. I was also quite enamored of his solo albums "Sedimental Journey" and "Tone Poems" – both beautiful examples of 1980s style magnetic-tape music. Over the years I met a few of the other guys in the band (Steven, Blaine, Michael, Winston Tong, the recently departed Bruce Geduldig), and when I asked my good pal, the graphic designer Patrick Roques about him, he described Peter as "a walking Amok Press catalog"…
In 1990, I arranged to meet Peter for an interview which ended up being published in the first issue of my magazine Proof. We hit it off right away, and as it turned out, this first meeting would dramatically change the course of my life forever. Aside from being generally impressed with this tall, dignified, stentorian and highly articulate entity, during the course of this first conversation I was introduced to numerous things that would deeply influence my thinking, including Anthroposophy and a particularly profound Alchemical/Rosicrucian worldview. Those who know me well understand how significant all this is for me. Well, it was largely Peter's influence that set me on that path!
Over the years, we became pretty close and spent a lot of time together. He did the final mix of some recordings by my band Mercurians (some of which were released on a 45), and I was instrumental in arranging Tuxedomoon's last US appearance over a decade ago. In addition to being a warm and generous friend, he continued to introduce me to tons of amazing music, film, and esoteric knowledge; to say he was an influence seems a dramatic understatement. Getting to know Peter was absolutely revolutionary for my mind, and I was always proud and excited to introduce him to various friends of mine. Pretty much anyone who met him was equally astounded and transformed by him.
It must be noted that he had quite a temper and would occasionally explode about something seemingly small, like a book borrowed and not returned in a timely manner. Once during a heated phone call I told him to "stop yelling at me" and he immediately softened, gently explaining "well, if I don't yell it seems like nobody ever listens." He occasionally complained of people treating him poorly, condescending to him, insulting him and downright ripping him off. He was not shy about naming names, and many of his alleged detractors were people well-established in the avant garde music world. I sometimes wonder if he didn't imagine some of these slights, though I really have no way of knowing. Mostly, I found it hard to imagine anyone not liking him! It definitely conveyed a certain sense of loneliness and shyness, which I don't think most people who met him were aware of, as well as a generally well concealed class-conscious insecurity. He described his upbringing to me as quite rough and tumble and would joke about being "just a yobbo from Queens," although I gather his household prided itself as "enlightened proletariat." I suspect his bold demeanor and choleric temperament may have been offputting to some. In many ways he was a classic Sagittarian and definitely rode a pretty high horse! In any case, I felt honored that he was comfortable enough around me to reveal this vulnerable side of his complex personality.
The last time I saw him, he stormed up to me and griped about being "almost dead!" It was indeed quite offputting, but I do believe he was having a hard time financially and emotionally during his last few years in New York City. He had a wonderful girlfriend at the time and I gather they moved off to Kentucky or Tennessee or somewhere flabbergasting like that for several years … His landline was disconnected and we lost touch, and I regret not making more effort to reach out to him during these last few years. I had been hoping to arrange for Tuxedomoon to come back and play the United States again, and I just figured we'd be reunited some sunny day and pick up where we left off with some more wonderful conversations. Now it looks like I'll have to wait until some future incarnation!
Blessings on all your future endeavors, friend of ages.