Billboard Magazine, 7.26.02:
Rolling Stones Lose Longtime Crew Chief
The four members of the Rolling Stones and their road crew were devastated Friday after the sudden death of their crew chief, their publicist said. Royden Magee, who had worked for the band for 30 years and went under the nickname Chuch, died Thursday after collapsing during band rehearsal at a school around 9 p.m. The 54-year-old man, from Marquette, Michigan, had symptoms that appeared to be a heart attack, said Fran Curtis, the band’s publicist. “He was complaining at rehearsals that he wasn’t feeling well. It was obviously sudden,’’ she said. The body remained with the Toronto coroner Friday. Coroner David Evans said the office was waiting for direction from Magee’s family.
The Stones — Mick Jagger, 58, Keith Richards, 58, Charlie Watts, 60 and Ron Wood, 54 — are rehearsing at Toronto’s Crescent School for their fall tour that kicks off in Boston on Sept. 3. It was not immediately known whether Magee’s death would disrupt the band’s rehearsal schedule.
A man called "Chuch" . . .
August 6, 2002
BY MICHAEL SNEED Chicago SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST
Dateline: Marquette, Mich. . . .They called him "Chuch" (pronounced Chooch) Magee.
And when he died recently, Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones slipped quietly into this scenic town on the shores of Lake Superior to sing his praise.
"It was quite a shock," said Christine Pestola, proprietor of the Landmark Hotel, when The Stones entered her lobby unannounced on July 24--and headed into the bar to order cappuccino with vodka chasers.
What brought The Stones to Michigan's Upper Peninsula and into a pew at Messiah Lutheran Church was the love and reverence they felt for Royden W. "Chuch" Magee, their beloved road manager for 27 years.
Magee, 54, had died of a heart attack July 18 in Toronto while The Stones were rehearsing for their 27-city tour of the United States and Canada.
"They arrived and left in a matter of five hours--and wanted no publicity," said a source. "They felt this was Chuch's time and didn't want the distraction that comes from the fanfare that usually accompanies them."
Nevertheless, "it was the talk of the town in a matter of hours,' said artist Susan Pearce Manson.
So around 2 p.m., two private jets landed at Sawyer International Airport--formerly a military base my father was in charge of constructing in the 1960s--and disgorged four of the most famous musicians in the world: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ron Wood and Charlie Watts, along with their new bassist Chicagoan Daryl Jones.
One hour later, The Stones hit the Northland Bar at the Landmark Hotel--and ordered designer coffee, which flipped out Pat "the Bartender" Bauer, who kept yelling, "Get out the cappuccino machine!"
"We only crank the machine out for personal use--to make coffee strong enough to get us going in the morning," chuckled Pestola.
Leaving no stone unturned awaiting coffee and canarbles, The Stones crossed the street to check out the Marquette County Historical Museum and the Peter White Library.
"Where you fellas from?" chirped a library bystander who overheard their British accents and had no clue who they were.
Then at 5 o'clock, decked out in a "long" suit jacket, tight black pants and purple shoes, Jagger and his mates were driven to Magee's funeral service, where guitars were waiting.
All but drummer Watts, who remained in a front row pew, strode to the front of the church, picked up their guitars. . . and played "Amazing Grace."
No one sang. No one clapped. And the group took communion. "It was as respectful as it could be," said a Marquette musician pal of Magee's. No one took pictures. No one asked for autographs. When the service was over, the group got back in their limo and headed to the airport.
The Stones always wondered about Chuch's little jewel of a town from the photos he kept with him. "Chuch was a private, blue-jeans-and-T-shirt kind of a guy with tremendous energy and organizational skills," a friend said. "He brought that talent to help young people in his church."
"He was always a non-coffee drinker and we wondered what he'd be like if he drank the stuff because he already ran circles around us."
Magee, who hailed from Oxford, Mich., and married a girl from Marquette, met Ron Wood at the Grandee Theatre in Detroit when Wood was playing for The Faces.
Chuch entered the world of the rock music maestros when he got mugged in London and looked up Wood in the phone book. It was then they started working together . . . and when Wood joined The Stones in 1975, Magee joined them.
"Chuch had one of the greatest jobs in the world, but he was humble and few people around here knew," said a close friend. "He only left Marquette when The Stones went on tour and lived here simply in a cottage-style log home and on a farm."
"He was a kind man who loved to fish and hike, counsel kids, help his friends and share the same values as his wife, Claire, of giving back."
I was on vacation last week in Marquette, where everyone was still talking about a life paved with stones cemented by the music Magee loved.
Once again, I had been at the right place at the wrong time, but I was acutely aware of one thing: Royden Magee had created a whole new meaning to the nickname "Chuch."
Chicago Sun-Times, 8.09.02:
A Stone's Throw...
Dateline: The Heartline . . . Here's a heartwarming addendum to our story Tuesday on the Rolling Stones' slipping quietly into the scenic town of Marquette, Mich., to sing the praises of their beloved road manager Royden "Chuch" Magee, who died on tour in Toronto.
*A class act: Sneed is told the Stones decided to pay Magee's beloved wife, Claire, her late husband's entire salary for the tour!
*A class act II: The group also decided to deliver his body in dignity and place it in an $8,000 maple casket even though Chuch wanted to be cremated and the casket would only be used less than 24 hours.
"They picked out a maple casket because drumsticks and guitar necks are made out of maple, and Chuch was the musical technician for the group who handled and tuned the guitars and drums," said a top Stones source.
*The final act: "The Stones are a family of about 30 people who have been together about 20 to 30 years," said a Stones source. "Chuch's death hit the family hard, and it wasn't just Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ron Wood, Daryl Jones and Charlie Watts who showed up," the source said. "All 30 went to that little church in the Upper Peninsula to pay their respects."
*A last note: Word is Chuch did not feel well in Paris, and when he was in Toronto, he lay down on one of the cases, went to sleep and never awoke. A fitting way for a musician to sign off.
We are saddened by the loss of our dear friend, Chuch Magee, who passed away on July 19, 2002 in Toronto, Canada. Chuch had been an integral part of the Rolling Stones for 30 years, as Crew Chief and Tech for both Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood. He was also one of the kindest human beings I have ever known.
Our hearts and prayers go out to his wife, Clare, and his family, as well as Charlie, Ronnie and everyone in the Rolling Stones organization, for their sad loss. His passing leaves a void in the music industry which will never be filled.
God Bless you, Chuch, and rest in peace.
from the Marquette newspaper:
Royden W. "Chuch" Magee MARQUETTE -- Royden W. "Chuch" Magee, age 54, of 2373 W. Fair, Marquette died unexpectedly on Thursday evening, July 18, 2002. At the time he was working on a tour rehearsal in Toronto, Ontario with the music industry. The cause of death is believed to be heart failure. Married for eighteen years to his wife Clare, an artist and seamstress, Chuch chose for his home a simple lifestyle, close to the earth in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. He loved fishing, snowmobiling, four-wheeling, making maple syrup, and spending time in the forest with his dogs. He was an active member of Messiah Lutheran Church, serving in a variety of supportive leadership roles, most often with youth ministry programs. Chuch Magee also served as one of the first volunteers and founders of the Cedar Tree Institute, a nonprofit organization.
In that role he worked with youth from the juvenile court supporting environmental projects and planting over 1,000 cedar trees in Northern Michigan. To those with whom he worked and lived, he was known for his boundless energy, uncanny organizing abilities, gentle humor, and unpretentious generosity. For an extraordinary number of people from all walks of life, he will be remembered as an exquisite friend. Chuch, the son of Jack Magee and Harriett Mayo, was born in Utica, Michigan and spent his youth in Oxford, Michigan. He attended Griffin Business School, Ferris, and Bethel Colleges. Beginning his career as a drum and guitar technician, he was named in 1989 by Performance Magazine as "Road Technician of the Year". In 1994 he received special recognition by a readers poll in that same publication for his leadership of the "Best Road Crew" in the music world of rock and roll.
Internationally, he was regarded among his peers as representing the most highly respected and competent of his profession. In addition to his wife Clare, Chuch is survived by his brother Jack Magee, sisters, Edie Barringer and Audrey Vasher, mother Harriett and several nieces and nephews. A Memorial Service will take place at Messiah Lutheran Church on Wednesday, July 24, 2002 at 5 PM. Friends are invited to participate in a visitation with family members at the Church beginning at 3 PM. Pastors Nancy Amacher, Tim Bernard, and Jon Magnuson will be officiating. The Swanson- Lindquist Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. The family invites memorials to the Youth Program of Messiah Lutheran Church.