I'm rather in an extreme loss of functionality over the passing of Michael
Panico, the archivist at Sony Music in New York, who committed suicide
early last week. He wasn't an ARSC member, but he helped assist many sound
recording researchers by granting them access and helping them navigate
through the Sony archives.
The archives current hold original recording ledgers, cards, and worksheets
pertaining to Victor, Columbia, Okeh, the American Record Corporation, and
various other companies. You'll find him credited in the acknowledgements
of many books, including Don Rayno's monumental Paul Whiteman volumes, and
John Bolig's Victor discographies.
He always greeted me happily and courteously during my visits, and was
always willing to help if I had a question. But more importantly, he also
took an interest in what YOU were doing, and eagerly awaited to see the
finished results, even if it was still a preliminary manuscript.
I prefer not to venture into my own personal life in a public forum, but having
the data I collected from the Sony archives helped me get through some very
difficult times, particularly when it felt like I couldn't get anyone else
to assist. Mike helped me in many ways, from permitting my visitations to
putting me in touch with essential legal contacts for copy and reprint
permissions. My personal archive is filled with several hundred photocopies
and digital photographs from Sony, to be used in future projects, thanks to
Mike, yet I'm devastated that after helping and encouraging me for so many
years, his own personal demons got the best of him.
NPR ran a story about him late last week:
And yes, one characteristic I remember more than anything during my visits
was the wild drums and wailing, screeching saxophones of avant-garde jazz
coming from Mike's office.