Editor's note. Pete Brooks was a production manager and occasional music columnist for the Grunion from 1989 to 2001.
Anson "Wink" Musselman, long-time Belmont Shore resident and high-profile local celebrity, was called Home to Glory Wednesday, Feb. 17.
He was 44 and other than the hospital lighting, looked fabulous at the time his body succumbed, following surgical complications after a Sisyphean battle with a 3-year-long illness. And what a rare illness he had; oncologists all over the country were absolutely fascinated with his case the last couple years.
Through it all, Wink retained his dry wit and cool remove. He even looked good bald. And he never lost his mordant sense of humor, especially where it came to his own worsening situation.
I first wrote about Wink for the Grunion in 1997. I was working the local entertainment beat and my liver, and Wink was working the local lounge circuit, and his liver. I was warned not to ask about his age as an honest answer would force the bars and clubs to have to quit booking him and would open them up to all kinds of legal liability over past bookings.
“Inevitable,” I tell you.
Right off the bat, he rubbed me the wrong way with the liberties he took with the material, which pleased Wink to no end. But that was Wink the humanitarian, gently excreting me through my comfort zone and out past my boundaries to a DMZ of the soul where one either sinks and is lost forever, or comes back changed for the better.
The world of the Business of Show remains divided as to whether Wink’s legacy will be greatest as an artist, entertainer, or as a humanitarian. This reporter’s observation over the years is that Wink’s talent was big enough to be a giant in every field he chose to pursue, in equal measure to the others he had mastered.
How can a life as broad, grand and well-lived as Wink’s be summed up in 500-700 words?
Does the average newspaper reader really care in what UK city he went to university? What exotic Asian city he fell in love with after uni? I can’t imagine why. It would bore Wink to death, except for — that.
Wink would want you to know first, that his contract called for a higher-caliber writer to write his remembrance but cancer deaths, like college-educated writers, don’t come cheap in the USA in the early 21st Century.
And he’d want the music to be remembered.
Even as illness was doing its carcinogenic best to thwart his will, Wink was in the studio, making music with the same irritatingly obsessive attention to detail he wielded when he was still a young man of only almost-21.
Fortunately for us, Wink grew up alongside the internet and satellite tv, meaning his artistic legacy will be preserved for as long as mankind manages to resist the urge to self-immolate. Go to Fingerprints®, YouTube or The Google and dial him up, “Wink Musselman.”
There will only be one of him to enjoy, oh but enjoy him you will! Because the music, like the love shared, and the memories of the man it conjures, endures.
“Great show, Wink! You killed tonight! Just fabulous. The stage door’s the second star to the right and your ride is here.”
Final arrangements will be announced privately, and Wink requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in his name to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital www.stjude.org, and/or Greenpeace, https://tinyurl.com/wz0ha9cp.