Last weekend I was in a Duane Reade buying a “Get Well” card for my friend Bill Miller. Yesterday I was buying a condolence card for his wife. Bill, who was my editor at Modern Drummer for over ten years, passed away Friday night after a five year battle with Cancer. Bill had been very private about his illness and, even though a friend of mine at the magazine confided in me recently that Bill was back in the hospital and “probably not going to make it,” he really didn’t want anyone to know how sick he was. I’m so grateful that I had the chance to send that final card to Bill, because I know he got to read it before he passed, so at least he knew I was thinking of him. Just a few weeks ago we’d been on the phone discussing a feature he’d assigned me. I can’t believe he’s gone.
I started writing for Modern Drummer in 1997, after I cold pitched Bill on Johnny Kelly, the drummer for Type O Negative. I’d never written for a technical magazine before and didn’t know much about drums at the time except that they were round things that guys hit with sticks. But Bill and I had an immediate bond, and he assigned me short, a front-of-the-book piece about Johnny Kelly “on spec,” which I was overjoyed to do. I couldn’t believe I was getting a chance to get my foot in the door of a magazine like Modern Drummer. Bill will never know how much I sweated those 350 words, but he liked the piece enough to run it, and he continued to give me regular assignments for the magazine for the next eleven years.
Bill was just a fantastic person. He was not only an exceptional editor; he was a very good friend. Bill was always so receptive to my pitches (more than few times he let me write about personal friends who were drummers) and was consistently complimentary and encouraging about my work. And even though he asked me to rewrite pieces on a few occasions, it’s only because his standards for the magazine were so high, and his critical eye made me step up as a writer. Thanks to Bill I’ve had the opportunity to interview such fantastic musicians and wonderful people in my time writing for MD, and I have made more good friends than I can count. I owe him so much. I am sure that before he went he knew how much he was loved by everyone who knew him. Goodbye, Bill. I will miss you forever.