Showbiz & Media Figures We’ve Lost In 2021 – Photo Gallery
Chuck E. Weiss, a longtime presence on the Los Angeles music scene and the subject of a Top 5 hit for Rickie Lee Jones, died Tuesday at age 76. Details on his death were not immediately available, but friends said he died after a long illness.
A staple performer on Mondays at The Central nightclub on the Sunset Strip for 11 years with his band, The Goddamn Liars, Weiss convinced friend Johnny Depp to help revive it when it fell on hard times. It became the Viper Room, one of the hottest music venues in the city. He also became associated with the Kibitz Room, an offshoot of Canter’s Deli on Fairfax Avenue, where a booth was named in his honor for his presence at the room’s frequent jams.
An outpouring on social media came as news of Weiss’s death spread. “Please let people know he was so much more than the title of a song,” said Sheryl Northrop, the publicist for two of his albums.
Weiss didn’t like to travel by airplane, so he confined his activities to Southern California. But he reached nationwide fame on songwriter and friend Jones’ debut album in 1979.
Jones and her boyfriend Tom Waits were friends with Weiss, and frequently hung out with him at the legendary punk motel The Tropicana in Los Angeles. Weiss disappeared for a time, but then phoned Waits to tell him he moved to his hometown of Denver because he had fallen in love with a cousin located there.
Waits purportedly hung up the phone and declared, “Chuck E.’s in Love.” Jones loved the sound of that and wrote the song that rose to No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in July 1979, making it her biggest hit. The song’s ending, though, changes the object of Chuck E.’s affection to Jones herself, which was never the case.
As a performer, Weiss was known for his eclectic mix of rock ‘n’ roll and his ability to insert everything from poetry to zydeco into his music. A consummate frontman, he was a master at turning a club room into an instant party.
Born in Denver, to parents who owned a record story, Weiss met blues legend Lightnin’ Hopkins at a local nightclub. His drum talent impressed Hop
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