Remembering Tavis Riker

Tavis Riker playing at the Landmark, Park Slope, Brooklyn, 9/18/88

Tavis Riker died Saturday in a swimming accident. Tavis was a good friend, an awesome musician, and and endlessly inventive, wonderful guy. We would talk for hours, watch videos, jam in the garage – he played guitar at our wedding – we were working on a song remembering warren zevon, hell, the world is an empty place this morning.

Tavis Flickr stream

Flipped open a book of his poetry and found this.

I'm fine with the wolf at the door
the color of confusion's aura, six strings strong
soul on the distant shore, today is burning
and a careless tongue told the tale (broken bottles)
dawn presents "now," lure of the crippled projector
mating call to disaster

from Radical Shadows, 1991, Penships Press.


I know Tom Riker, Tavis' Dad. Tom talked so much about Tavis and was always willing to share the latest video/dvd that Tavis had sent. I never knew Tavis, but I know Tom's version of Tavis. What a loss we all suffer.

Tavis Riker -- video technician, guitarist, poet, film & music critic, and good friend -- has sadly passed away. The great Atlantic Ocean took him away from we mortals, as she challenged his strength with a mighty riptide. Tavis met many challenges in life, but this one proved too strong to conquer.

I will miss him dearly. He was one of the best conversationalists I have ever known. He knew more about music and cinema than anyone I have ever met, and by a wide margin. And I have met a lot of people with great knowledge in these areas. He was an artist who dealt with the modern struggles of being such, and always provided support to others and myself who struggled similarly. He helped me through one of the most difficult times in my life. By being a friend, by listening, by talking, by sharing. I was always there for him when he reached out. It was one of those rare friendships that transcended companionship. We were of the same Karass, as Kurt Vonnegut once described relationships like these. The type where there is an indescribable affinity toward each other, regardless of differences or similarities. Where you felt compelled toward each other by a shared but ill-defined purpose in life.

Now that life is gone. The world is smaller for the loss.

Its hard for me to imagine a world without Tavis. I will miss his wit, charm, wisdom and conversations. This is truly a loss.

I'm very saddened to hear that we've lost Tavis. Even though life and circumstances caused us to become a bit out of touch for the past couple of years, I still considered him to be one of my closest friends. After meeting him at a job where we worked together for a few years, we would get together outside of work and do fun things now and then - from seeing David Sylvian (whose music he introduced me to) or Rush or other artists, to Chiller conventions to movies, he was great at coming up with memorable outings. We shared a lot of interests, and he was always giving me some kind of CD or videotape of something really cool and hard to find. He loved sharing these things he found with people he knew could appreciate them. Aside from all the music, video, and outings, he was just a great guy. A great friend, someone who I always felt comfortable with, and someone who was real. As Lou said, an indescribable affinity.

He is missed.
Peace all.

I too knew Tavis Riker as well as Tom. I am Tom's brother and Tavis's uncle. My brother Tom and I have collaborated on some songs and shared a lot of moments in the process, talking about our children- I know how much (even from afar) Tavis meant to Tom. Tom spoke of his son, as father's do, with such pride of his accomplishments. I'm sure, in time, Tom will write down some lyrics about this tragic loss and I will set it to music.
I can only imagine such a loss for my brother- I can feel Tom's sense of such a huge void. Tavis will be missed by all who knew him at any juncture of his short life.

Tavis indeed was a very special person.Too much to discuss
or talk about now in these times...until the passing of time.
Our family was raised with music (my uncle, my brothers amd all
of our friends} My brother Ron and myself will write sa song
remembering small things and the huge loss when the world loes
a poet and music maker...I will more than miss him

Just got back from Syracuse where the memorial service for Tavis was held last night. Had a chance to meet his mom, Colleen, his partner Liz, and his uncle Ron, as well as spend time with all of our friends. The service was alternately smiles of memory and tears of grief. Chris Doherty got an mp3 of Tavis playing from our friend Steve Shapiro, and that started off the service, then his mom spoke, Rich Alfredo did the emcee coordination, Chris read a beautiful note from his dad (and we all sent our sympathy and love, and hope he feels better) and friends shared some thoughts. Adam Chinitz took photos, and I shot video, which I'll be happy to burn onto DVD for anyone who'd like a copy; you can just send me your address offline.

All of us who knew him from our Syracuse U. days had a proper wake at Chuck's on M Street which carried on until about 3 am.

He was -- and always will be -- missed and remembered. Too exhausted to write more.

Hi,my name is Arnet Fein.My family and I lived with Tavis,Collen and Tom along with a few other people in a beatiful 3+story Victorian Mansion in Hudson N.Y.from about 1970-72 until our family(the Feins) moved across the street where we were still very close.My mom Gloria Fein and Father Paul Fein knew the Rikers from before I was born-I imagine the '50's. Myself and my brother,Martel Fein grew up with Tavis and have very fond memories of all of us playing together.Even though Tavis and I had'nt spoken in years,whenever Martel and I get together we still to this day always reminise of our childhood days and inside sayings and things the three of us would do.Recently Collen was on the phone with my mom and was there to talk with her,with plans for all of us to reunite.The news here told of the tragic incident,but never in my wildest thought would think it was Tavis.The loss is very difficult and sad to know that we can never see each other again,we had a lot of fun(and fights,ha) growing up together as kids.My brother Martel is taking this especially hard as they were extremely close as kids and have almost all the same interests in music.Tavis' favorite band was the Doors which he introduced to Martel,making the Doors one of his favorite bands as well.We will miss him and continue to remember him as we always have.All our thougts and prayers are with Collen,Tom,his family and friends.Thank You for creating such a wonderful sight to remember Tavis. Peace to all,Arnet

I was Tavis' roommate and was shocked and saddened when I heard the awful news of his passing.
I have chanted Nam Myoho Renge Kyo for Tavis to be reborn into better circumstances in his next lifetime and will miss him.
I have since moved out of the apt we shared.
I am interested in getting the DVD of his funeral service.

I just stumbled across this page -- I was a friend of Tavis's in high school at Nottingham; we made a super8 film together called The Lens of Time. I still remember it; it was half art house black & white mysterioso stop-motion non-sequitur coolness and half hilarious old-godzilla-clip-in-the-middle last-minute basement silliness, and mostly subliminal anticipatory promo (we'd put up signs in the school theater before the opening at a drama cast party saying "What Is... the Lens of Time???" -- he was a genius!) Strangely I was just thinking about it today and decided to google Tavis and see what he's up to, and discovered that he had just died in a terrible swimming accident! What a tragedy. He was a great guy, a lot of fun to be around. As someone else said, he knew more about film than a lot of film scholars. He used to keep a notebook in high school with his reviews of every film he saw, and he saw a lot!

I'll certainly miss him and be thinking about him as time goes on. Keep on shooting, Tavis, wherever you are!

-- Gary

I too just stumbled across this page and was very sad to learn the news..... I first (and mostly) knew Tavis at the Children's School (I think that was its name? - nifty fun free school) back in what must have been around 1969 or so (I still have a neat tie that Tom made that Tavis gave me for a birthday present at some point!). Later my mother, who ran the Metropolitan School for the Arts for many years, became friends with both Tom and Colleen - I'd love to hear from either of them, incidentally, and send them all my best wishes and sympathies.


I was just thinking about a time when Tavis, myself and a few other co-workers were improvising a jam to the "Love Boat" theme. It put a smile on my face and I realized that it had been a long time since we last spoke. I decided to try a google search and found out the sad news just today. I wished, like many of his other friends undoubtedly did, that I had reached out sooner and told him what a special gift he had and what it meant to know him. We worked together at two different post-production houses in nyc and like me, his intersts were varied. We both saw ourselves as musicians, film lovers, artists, and outsiders. It hurt me to hear of his passing and that of his girlfriend as well. I send both their families my depest condolances. I also want to thank the many friends of his that made sure he is not forgotten and allowed me a chance to share my feelings here on this space. Tavis, I hope you hear all the love that has been sent your way and be in peace knowing that you mattered more to us than maybe we had a chance to tell you. Love you, bro.

I was in Syracuse giving guitar lessons back in 1980. Tavis was one of my students, although I think I learned more from him than he did from me; always turning me onto something new (back then it was Van Halen's solo on Michael Jackson's thriller release.)

After moving to NYC in 84, Tavis and I remained good friends, often meeting in our ramshakle apartments, (his being the old Hell's Kitchen, bathroom in the kitchen railroad apt).

So many memories come flooding back and in this moment; playing music, working at Clinton Studios (fetching food and beer for the session guys), I know he's looking over my shoulder at this moment laughing with me at some of the crazy stuff we did together.

One unsuspecting google search, seeking connection, and now in a bit of shock. Sorry to have to have heard so late. My heart goes out to his family and friends.


I knew the Rikers in Syracuse in 1969. Also visited them in Hudson, NY and when they lived on Ave. B and 10th in NYC. It blew my mind to hear about Tavis death because I baby sat him in NYC. If you have any way to contact Tom or Colleen, please forward my e-mail address so that I can make contact with them again. Thanks.

Frank Gutowski

Hey, was up last last night, and realized it was Tavis' birthday yesterday, the 26th...he's just on my mind this time of year. Nothing more profound than that....I look at the old snapshots I have of him, and I think about the fun we used to have, lots of late-night phone calls, etc etc. When he lived in Queens, his place was near this cheesy disco called Dance Club...whenever he walked by it, he would always point it out and say, "First rule of Dance Club--no one talks about Dance Club." Well, we laughed anyway....Again, I have nothing too profound to add, other than this: I miss him.

For a time he was my best friend when he lived on E. 10th St. I am so sad to hear of his passing and share the feelings of his adult friends and family. I am glad he had good friends and follow his loves. I am glad I know, and will cherish his memory with new respect. Peace.

we were friends when we were kids, back when Tavis, Tom and Colleen lived on East 10th Street. I remember trading comic books with him at his house, staying up late to watch SNL and playing practical jokes on the telephone. We used to have this overly elaborate handshake that we used when we would say goodbye, the very last move was walking away from each other as if we were strangers. After they moved to Connecticut I remember sending him a few letters and a birthday gift or two but we eventually lost touch. I'll always remember his quirky sense of humor and good nature. I wish I had known him later as I too became a musician. If anyone has some of his music I would love to hear it.
We miss you Tavis.

Wow, I did not know.

Tavis and I were good friends in high school (Nottingham). We played a lot of Frisbee in a park by his house - Barry Park? - and saw a lot of films together at Gifford Auditorium. We also went to see Van Halen together at a show in Binghamton, and jammed a few times. I remember being amazed that he'd bought this sunburst guitar and amp from a pawn shop in NYC for less money than seemed possible.

He also wrote a great bit for the yearbook that was in the form of a satirical script, complete with SFX cues, as I recall.

We kind of drifted apart by late high school and the last time I saw him on S.U. he was sitting on the grass behind Bird Library, wearing sunglasses, and was completely aloof. But I remember how brilliant and hilarious he was, and sincere, and the good times we had. I still have off-the-cuff lines of his in my head.

Tonight "The Driver" was on TV and I only knew of it because Tavis had showed me the trailer; he may have even [legitimately] borrowed the actual trailer from Gifford Auditorium and had a projector - that's how I remember it anyway. That's what made me do a search and this is so not what I expected to find.

He's also the one who told me I should go see "The Shining". I wasn't interested. "Just think of it as a comedy," he said, and so I went.

God damn.