Robert Bower, fan, friend and lover of cats.

Posted August 6th, 2011 by Anna

Just got the sad and unexpected news that longtime friend and fan Robert Bower died suddenly in NYC yesterday. He was only 62. His beloved mother Ida died a month ago on July 8th and he was heartbroken but bearing up. He had a health problem he was being treated for and seems to have died as a consequence. Here is a pic of Robert and his mum (from a while back) that he sent me in July.
Kate and I first met Robert in 1976 shortly after our first record was released. We were touring in the NYC area and he presented himself backstage after a gig. If memory serves me well, he was with Ron Gomes. Thereafter he would call regularly and send us newspaper clippings of K&A reviews from around the World and he never missed a K&A concert in the NYC area and often travelled further afield to attend if his work schedule permitted. He was a longtime employee of Hotalings News in Times Sq. More recently he worked in Bob Dylan’s office. Robert was probably Leonard Cohen’s biggest fan and many people will remember him from LC’s concerts and ours. He was always taking in stray cats and at one point had what he thought were 2 female kittens which he named Kate and Anna. Kate turned out to be a male (my Kate was supposed to be one..) so he renamed the kitten Kit which was also my father’s nickname for Kate. They are also long gone. Here’s hoping Robert finds all his loved ones on the other side. Adieu old friend.

19 Responses:

  1. Campbell says:

    August 6th, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    I have the e mail kate sent me when Bob B introduced her to Bob Dylan- August 20, 2003 NYC. In spite of or despite all of the legendary security-
    ” my friend Bob Bower (our fan and employee of the Dylan org.) jumpsover and says…Bob I’d like you to meet my friend Kate Mcg…”

    That little gesture meant a lot, insofar as B. Dylan knew K&A’s oeuvre. The respect of one’s peers and all. Just saw Bob Bower in May at the ‘do’ after the shows at Town Hall. I sure hope there’s an eternity. Bless ya’ Bob Bower.

  2. Joel Zifkin says:

    August 6th, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    Ah , Bob Bower ~ A lovely guy, helpful, sweet, always a joy to meet. He is missed

  3. John W. says:

    August 7th, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    I met Robert in 1975 when we and a group of others were rabid David Bowie fans. Robert has been a close friend for all the years since. He loved his job at Hotalings Newsagents at Times Square where he could indulge his passion for reading the latest in ‘media’ events and at the same time meet musicians he admired who came into the shop; he would always find out what they were looking for and help them hunt it down! Over the years Robert and I went to many concerts together (Stones, Dylan, Baez – before Robert went to work in Dylan’s office) but his two favorite artists were Leonard Cohen and Kate and Anna McGarrigle (who he turned me onto and took me to many of their wonderful concerts.) He must have Canadian blood in him. Robert was one of the most caring, thoughtful, supportive people I have ever met and I’m not the only one who feels that way. Whenever you hooked up with him, he had a little gift for you by some artist whom you liked – it was embarrssing in a way because who else goes out of their way for you every single time you meet? No one I know of now. I was fortunate enough to spend last Monday afternoon at the hospital with Robert and we had a meaningful chat between two old close friends and it was a great privilege for me – as the next day, Tuesday, Robert became very ill and was not to recover. Robert collected many rare Kate and Anna McGarrigle recordings and demos(of both released and never released material) and it was his intention that they be kept, catalogued and handled in a way that would benefit the recording legacy of the McGarrigles – and not be used as a source of renumeration for himself. He was adamant about that – and I only hope now that he is gone that his vision for that remarkable musical material will still come to pass in the way he envisioned it. It’s been a long time since the ‘Philly kids’ days of Bowie recording ‘Young Americans’ at Sigma Sound. I’m so saddened by your untimely passing and at such a young age – and will miss you very much. Please rest in peace. (For Campbell above – yes, Robert loved telling that story about Bob and Kate meeting – and was pleased as punch to have set it up! He says they talked for a half hour and Bob also met Kate’s daughter during the conversation! Robert would have only done that for one of the McGarrigles, he admired them so much.)

  4. Barbara says:

    August 7th, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this.
    Rob was a very close friend to a very good friend of mine. You may even know him, but I’d rather not share is info w/o his knowing it. He is heartbroken over this as you all are I’m sure. Thank you again…your words were kind and appropriate.

  5. Susan says:

    August 7th, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    Being Robert’s friend for the past 40-years has been nothing short of a gift for which I’ll be forever grateful. The day before Robert’s passing, we spoke of many rock ‘n roll escapades, such as driving to Philly to see Bowie, with the car’s fuel tank reading “empty.” Nothing would stop us from getting to our “hero’s” – Bowie, Leonard, Kate & Anna, Patti. Robert, YOU will always be my hero. I’ve kept every greeting card he has ever sent me over the years and each was always signed, “Love for Eternity”. I will love You for all eternity, Robert. May you truly rest in peace.

  6. Ron Gomes says:

    August 7th, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    Robert was a good friend for decades. His death comes as a painful shock. We sat together at dozens of K&A concerts over the years, many of them after long drives. He was kind, thoughtful. helpful, self-effacing, and always kept me in the loop about things he thought (or knew) would interest me. He knew my family, we corresponded and spoke often, he was making plans to preserve his unique musical archive.

    He will be greatly missed.

  7. Will says:

    August 8th, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    He was a great man. One of the kindest, sweetest, most loving people I’ve ever met. He will be missed.

  8. Alan Pudding says:

    August 8th, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    I also first met Robert at Hotalings in the 70’s. He became a good friend and eventually we were neighbors as I moved into the buildings in Tribeca where he resided. We spent many great times together and saw some amazing shows along the way. Robert’s gifts as someone wrote were many and always heartfelt. I didn’t know about his mom passing as we didn’t see much of each other over the past decade, but I remember visiting his parents in NJ and meeting the whole clan. I saw him last on the train a few years back and he told me of working for Dylan. I can’t even comprehend Robert’s passing. And I am sad I hadn’t seen him much. The sweetest man I ever knew. It’s devastating.

  9. Annie says:

    August 8th, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    I am so very sorry to know of Robert’s passing. He was a sweet soul — a good, kind man.

  10. Kathi Schaeffer says:

    August 8th, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Robert was a gentle and lovely man. His passions were so evident and his kindess was part of his gift to the world.

  11. Hazel Field says:

    August 9th, 2011 at 2:06 am

    Re: RIP Robert Bower
    by dick straub» Mon Aug 08, 2011 11:10 pm

    HELP! Robert’s Cats Need Homes

    One of Robert’s highest priorities during his life was care of his feline family. He rescued, nursed to health, and footed vet bills for many fortunate cats. Their well-being was always on Robert’s mind. When he so unexpectedly died, four cats were under his care in his Tribeca apartment.

    The cats have all received shots and have been “inside” pets for some time. If you can possibly help with placement into good homes, you would be giving Robert the best tribute he could imagine. Please pm or email me your contact information, and I’ll see that you get in touch with the right person for further description and to arrange adoption —

    Sincere gratitude for your help!


    Posts: 1001
    Joined: Wed Sep 11, 2002 10:21 pm

  12. David says:

    August 9th, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Robert was one of a kind. His generosity & concern for others (especially
    felines & the elderly) was second nature to him & he never expected or wanted anything in return. Giving rather than receiving was like a religion to him &
    he often expressed discomfort or resistance whenever I tried to reciprocate
    by bringing him something in return. “I have too much already..” Robert was the ultimate, dedicated fan whose love for the artists he admired was not blind or limitless. He had very high standards & he would let you know when a musician had fallen short of his expectations. But when he believed they hit the mark, he was in euphoria. The last time I had seen him was at an Iris Dement (another artist in his pantheon) concert & I will always treasure that memory. When I awoke this morning to hear the tragic news, I told my daughter his story & that he was the kind man who gave her that one of a kind Dylan t-shirt & to never forget him. He will truly be missed.

  13. Alan Pudding says:

    August 9th, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    Looking back at emails I had with Robert, we had a memorable exchange after Kate’s passing that I would share if anyone would like to see it. He also with that sent some wonderful pictures of Kate et al. Just thinking back over these days jogged my aging memory enough to remember how close we were. I was wondering whether any of you knew Robert’s friend Joe and how he’s dealing with this. Robert also went to school with Bruce Springsteen and one of his proudest possessions was poetry Bruce wrote for the school paper that Rob had.

    I really miss him. If anyone would like any of the emails and/or photos, email me at I’d be happy to share them. And if anyone knows Joe’s info, you can pass along my email to him also.

  14. erica kovack says:

    August 12th, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    Uncle Bobby was the most careing and loving Uncle , Iwill always cherish the times weve spent together . The times I will remember always was when Uncle Bobby would pick me up at the bus station when I was growing up , we would go sight seeing and go to Hotlings where he worked in the 80’s. Uncle Bobby was alot of fun !!My Uncle always let me roller skate thru central park . I loved staying with him we would eat haggendaz late at night or go to the Tribeca grill to eat a fabulos meal .. He will definitley be missed his love for his family no one could ever imagine.. My Uncle passing not even one month after oma is truly a shocker .. to young to soon!!!!! Uncle Bobby always talked about his passions of music and his favorite artist .. We always went to shows when I would come up to visit and took me shopping at my favorite store Strawberry , and it was often Uncle Bobby loved it when we would all drive in to visit .. truly the best memories a niece can ever have !!! thank you all for this special tribute to my uncle bobby. Till We Meet Again , REST IN PEACE UNCLE BOBBY !!!!!!! I will never forget you a very sad neice I Love you !!

  15. Marty Oppenheim says:

    August 14th, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Robert was an integral part of the McGarrigle experience. I sat with him many times at the Bottom Line and he was always friendly & interesting. I admired him and was amazed he was able to have all these first hand experiences with musicians. Robert, you will missed as well as Kate!

  16. Ken Wexler says:

    November 20th, 2011 at 12:40 am

    Goodbye Robert, my friend. We must have sat at the same table dozens of times at the Bottom Line. Thanks for all the news clippings. It was always fun trading tapes with you. I’m the same age as you, and I should start arranging my musical archives for posterity too. You were a kind a gentle person. I feel terrible that our last meeting ended on a rather cranky note. Entirely my bad. Never take out the frustrations of a bad day on a friend. You may never see him again, and it will haunt you. I admire your intense loyalty to the great artists you have followed. I admire your generosity and your giving spirit. I admire your devotion to our animal friends. You enhanced many of my concert-going experiences. I’m so sorry. May your song always be sung.

  17. Morten Bo Johansen says:

    April 26th, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    It is a little late, but I just rewatched an old talkshow on Danish televison, where Leonard Cohen was the guest. Robert Bower was also invited to talk about his
    love of Cohen’s music and his work as an archivist of sorts for Cohen. He came through to me as a genuinely fine person and it is sad that he has passed. You can watch Robert’s appearence on the show at

    Robert appears about 31 minutes into the show.

  18. Campbell says:

    April 26th, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    Thanks for this- made me cry-

  19. HP Bushoff says:

    January 24th, 2014 at 6:11 am

    I only discovered this lovely tribute to Robert today. It’s very moving to see that this wonderful person is remembered this way. I was first introduced to Robert in his office at Special Rider around 2000 and we had many talks about Bob Dylan and music in general over the years. I always had to send him vitamin and garlic pills from Munich – his mother came from here. Robert was one of the nicest people in this business, I will never forget him. Very nice to see that he is getting a dedication in the liners to the Bob Dylan COMPLETE BOX.

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