Bernard “Buddy” Seigal, a signature player in the San Diego roots-music scene, as well as a fiery music essayist known for his encyclopedic knowledge and flair for the profane, died Sunday at his home in La Mesa, Calif. He was 48.
Seigal suffered a heart attack, according to Will Swaim, a friend and colleague at the OC Weekly, where Seigal’s features and reviews had been published since the mid-1990s.
The singer and guitarist performed under the stage name Buddy Blue and was a founding member of the Beat Farmers, a San Diego outfit that began in an El Centro bar and eventually attracted some national attention for their alt-country and rock meld.
Seigal left the group during the recording sessions for their third album, the 1986 release “Van Go,” although he later performed with a reconstituted version called the Farmers. He also had a notable solo career and played under the marquees of such acts as the Buddy Blue Band, the Rockin’ Roulettes, the Jacks and Raney Blue.
In Southern California, Seigal became perhaps more renowned in the 1990s as a music writer, contributing to numerous publications, among them The Times, the San Jose Mercury News, the Orange County Register and the San Diego Union Tribune -- the latter of which routinely described his music column as the work of an “all-around curmudgeon.”
The tattooed native of Syracuse, N.Y., did have a style that was cantankerous and colorful that finally found its least-filtered forum at the OC Weekly, the sister publication of the LA Weekly. Some of his more memorable pieces included ribald descriptions of singer Tom Jones, rocker Billy Zoom and firebrand politician Bob Dornan. When the Farmers staged reunion shows in 2002, Seigal even interviewed Buddy Blue. The result was a belly-laugh piece in which he insulted himself as a leftover player in “some forgotten cow-punk band.”
Swaim, the editor-in-chief of the OC Weekly, said Monday that Seigal was like a grittier character from a Frank Capra movie, a champion of the politics, vices and ethos of the blue-collar man. Swaim said his friend was always “fighting the power” but was, in person, far more polite than his prose.
“He was a gentleman. You were able to politely disagree with him on any topic -- until it came to music,” Swaim said. “His music knowledge was phenomenal, and he believed his point of view was the one truth with a capital T.”
Seigal is survived by his wife, Annie, and their 4-year-old daughter, Tallulah; and his mother, Suzanne. A memorial service is planned for noon Friday at Harry Griffen Park in La Mesa.