Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen Dies: Rockers React
Big-name rock artists paid tribute to Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who died at 65 after the cancer he’d fought off in the ‘80s returned.
Allen, who was estimated to have amassed a fortune of $20 billion, spent much of his time after leaving the software giant investing in artistic, scientific and philanthropic projects. Along with founding the Allen Institute for Brain Science, the Institute for Artificial Intelligence and the Institute for Cell Science, he established Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture, where the memorial statue to Chris Cornell was recently unveiled.
A lifelong Jimi Hendrix fan, Allen was also recognized as a talented guitarist, and in 2013 he released an album under the name Paul Allen and the Underthinkers. Everywhere At Once featured guests Joe Walsh and Ann Wilson, among others.
Earlier this year, producer Quincy Jones said Allen could play and sing just like Hendrix, adding, “I went on a trip on his yacht, and he had David Crosby, Joe Walsh, Sean Lennon — all those crazy motherfuckers. Then on the last two days, Stevie Wonder came on with his band and made Paul come up and play with him — he’s good, man.”
Jones was among those to tweet about Allen’s death, saying, “Your genius & generosity has & will forever be felt by mankind.” Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan said, “All of Seattle feels for your family and loved ones. You were so damn good to our city, and a force in this life.” Krist Novoselic of Nirvana said, “Thank you for the wonderful monument of @MoPOPSeattle for Seattle Music. You built Seattle into a great city.”
Pearl Jam posted a picture of a guitar pick featuring the logo of the Seatlle Seahawks, one of the sports teams Allen owned, and noted his “immeasurable contributions to the community and beyond,” while Crosby described him as a “smart, decent man,” a “good guitar player” and “saver of elephants.” Living Colour’s Vernon Reid noted, “He was rich but he could play.”
In 1993, Allen purchased the 1968 Fender Stratocaster that Hendrix played at Woodstock for a reputed $1.3 million, and put it on display in the Seattle museum, then known as the Experience Music Project. Speaking at the time of his LP’s release, he said, “I’ve been fortunate in my life to play with some of the greatest guitarists and rock 'n' roll musicians ever. It was an amazing thrill to have some of them play on the album.” Asked how he found time for music in his career, he replied, “How can you not?”