Greg Tate, cultural critic, author and co-founder of the Black Rock Coalition, has died at the age of 63.
Duke University Press, the late author’s publisher, confirmed the news to Rolling Stone on Tuesday (Dec. 7), however, his cause of death was not revealed. “The Black Rock Coalition is shocked, saddened and absolutely devastated with the news that our brother, friend and co-founder Greg Tate made his transition earlier today,” the group said in a statement. “Greg led the wave of Black writers who, without apology, honored the past yet went full speed ahead into the future, giving dap to Black artists across the cultural spectrum who were not getting love within mainstream circles.”
Tate studied film and journalism at Howard University. He, along with guitarist Vernon Reid, producer Konda Mason and singer D.K. Dyson, co-founded the Black Rock Coalition in 1985 to seek equitable treatment for Black artists throughout all genres of music. According to Tate’s manifesto for the organization, the group “opposes those racist and reactionary forces within the American music industry which undermine and purloin our musical legacy and deny Black artists the expressive freedom and economic rewards that our Caucasian counterparts enjoy as a matter of course.”
In 1987, Tate joined The Village Voice, a New York-based newspaper, as a freelancer and shared his opinions on everything from hip hop to jazz. A few years later, he published “Flyboy in the Buttermilk,” a book filled with essays and tales on American music and culture. Throughout his career, Tate contributed to several outlets, including Rolling Stone and The New York Times, and published many books, such as “Midnight Lightning.”
Writer Doreen St. Félix took to Twitter to pay tribute to Tate following the news of his passing. “The first step to it is mimicry and who we are all mimicking is Greg Tate…the greatest…and the kindest, so generous with his time and that brain,” she tweeted.