The last few days have been an overwhelming experience for all of us at WFUV. Losing a colleague is always wrenching. Losing a legend at an early age is tragic. Losing a friend is just heartbreaking. So we all try to cope with Pete Fornatale's death.
The outpouring of sympathy from his many fans has been amazing. Thank you all. It's inspired DJs like Darren and Dennis to offer on-air tributes that have been moving and pitch-perfect in selecting songs that reflect Pete's taste. Don McGee has the challenge of hosting "Mixed Bag" today from 4-8 pm, and I know he will rise to the occasion. And, of course, Vin will speak personally and eloquently from the heart as only he can tonight on "Idiot's Delight." I will offer my own farewell to my friend tomorrow morning on "Sunday Breakfast."
I've spent a lot of time on the phone in the past few days talking to artists about Pete. People like Graham Nash, Roger McGuinn, Dion, Suzanne Vega, Shawn Colvin, Richie Furay, Lucy Kaplansky, Tom Paxton, Rosanne Cash, John Sebastian, Rex Fowler, and Neil Shulman. Without fail they refer to Pete as the consummate professional and a steadfast friend. You've heard and will continue to hear many of those comments on the air. Here are just a few examples:
He was really a gentle giant. He was not a tall person, but his personality was huge. He wanted to do good for people. I think Pete recognized that we were human beings, trying to do the best with our lives, trying to help where we could. – Graham Nash
I was still working a day job as a receptionist, and he knew this. He surprised me one day and walked in the door. Of course, I recognized his voice, which was so distinctive. He was really excited about my songwriting and wanted to know if I could come out for coffee. So I had to beg my boss to give me the afternoon off so I could go out for coffee with Pete Fornatale, who had just walked in the door! –Suzanne Vega
Pete was part of the community, as much a part of it as the musicians. He loved the music passionately and he loved his opportunity to spread this music. He was an evangelist.
I met him back in the late ‘60s when I recorded “Abraham, Martin & John.” Pete used to say, “I have a BA and an AA” – a Belmont Avenue and an Arthur Avenue degree. He was very interested in growing along spiritual lines. Always the music, and always the inner journey. That was what we had in common. –Dion
When we would talk together, the nature of our discussions would be very personal, very deep, and very revealing. They were the kind of in-depth discussions you rarely hear in the media. - Peter Yarrow
Rest in peace, Pete.