RIP Noel Sayre: Message from Jerry DeCicca of The Black Swans

This e-mail was sent from Jerry of The Black Swans about Noel:

Dear Friends and all,

I have some very sad news to share.

Noel Sayre, my friend and bandmate for 13 years, died early in the
morning of July 3rd due to a swimming accident in Portsmouth, Ohio on
Tuesday July 1st.

He entered the hospital in a coma and never came out of it, his heart
eventually slowing down. In the I.C.U., we listened to Rachmaninoff
and Clive Palmer, two of Noel’s favorites. He spent his time in the
hospital with his close friends and girlfriend, Kristy, who played a
big part in his happiness during the last year.

Noel and I began playing music together on New Years Eve of 1995,
opening a show for the Yips and the Bassholes at Bernies Bagels in
Columbus, Ohio. We split $100 for that gig, and so began a partnership
that quickly became a strong and lasting friendship that the Black
Swans based themselves upon.

We were always more Heckle & Jeckle and Penn & Teller than Simon &
Garfunkel, as we shared an idea about music as art, posing as
entertainment, that we explored over hundreds of gigs and several
recordings. Musically, I always stood in Noel’s shadow and Noel always
felt he was my shadow. We spoke in code, a short-hand, that sometimes
alienated others and sometimes amused them. We were kindred spirits in
many way and couldn’t be more different in others. He was quiet and
articulate, rowdy and beyond shy, hyper intelligent and incredibly
dense. I think I knew him better than anyone and it is safe to say
there was a lot I never saw. It is shocking to think he will no longer
be a part of my physical life. We both imagined that we’d be standing
on stage together when we were 80, an appropriate age for our favorite

Besides the Black Swans, Noel was a member of the Ohio based rock band
Pretty Might Mighty, the Huntington, West Virginia Symphony Orchestra
and the Portsmouth, Ohio Symphony. Noel also gave violin lessons in
both Huntington and Portsmouth (making very little money) because he
enjoyed teaching children and believed in musical education, a
characteristic inherited from his parents who were also music teachers
in Huntington.

There’s still more of Noel’s music to be heard. Just a few days ago, a
record by Larry Jon Wilson, an obscure 1970’s country-funk songwriter,
was released on 1965 Records/ Sony UK (to be released on Hacktone
later this year in the U.S.). It has already received high praise by
Mojo, Uncut, Rick Rubin, Will Oldham, and dozens of UK papers. I hired
Noel to play on it, accompanying only Larry Jon’s voice and guitar, so
he’s surely a big part of the album’s critical success.

Too, I’m happy to say he already recorded his parts for the next Black
Swans album and, as always, played with intelligence, humor, and a
transcendent pallet of emotions.

Noel taught me a lot about myself. As we played witness to one
another, we stuck to our guns, charting each others growth as a person
and a musician. We went through a lot together, good and bad, always
expressing ourselves in different ways, but never an unkind word was
exchanged, always caring and supportive. I can’t imagine my life or
music without him.

Noel is survived by only a cousin. A memorial service is being planned
in Huntington, WV on Saturday July 12. Donations are being accepted to
pay for the expenses. Please email for
details on the service and contributions in a few days.

Much love, Jerry

  • I just heard news that my old friend Noel Sayre died this week from a possible heart attack related to a drowning incident. I guess there are still some unanswered questions in what really was the cause of his untimely demise. For those of you who did not know him, he was a truly remarkable violinist virtuoso capable of squeezing more beautiful and complex sounds out of his instrument than anyone I’ve ever met. Best known for his work with Columbus legends Pretty Mighty Mighty and The black Swans, he also played on the first Templeton record “Trash To Treasure” which came out during the Derailleur Records period, which for me was a time when several Columbus bands came together and formed a rather tight knit musical family forging away and growing as artists. Noel was a quiet one, but a sweetheart with the best of them and an extremely intelligent and thoughtful friend. I had some great times with him, both musically and personally. Sometimes serious. Sometimes silly. I haven’t spoken to him in some time as he moved to W Virginia years ago to take care of his sick father. In fact, as a testament to his caring nature, he gave up his life in Columbus to do just that as I recall. He’ll be missed. And my deepest sympathies go out to his friends and family. Thanks for your words Jerry. I’m so sorry for your loss, my friend.

    -Christian Hurd

  • Noel was my neighbor and friend. His parents moved across the street from me about 15 years ago. I didn’t know him real well during the years he was away for school and working in Columbus. When he came home to stay with his dad, we starting getting to know each other. When his dad died, I was amazed at how well he managed to take over the upkeep of his house. I was priviledged to help in in some of his jobs, and to loan him tools. Although there was 45 years difference in our ages, we go along just great. It still han not sunk in as to how and why this happened, and I am going to miss seeing him coming and going from his house. I will miss picking cherries with him each spring. I think I must have contributed to his musical talent, since he obviously got all of mine. Good luck to all his band members and friends, especially Jerry and Kristie whom I met at the hospital. Paul

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  • i was a student at OU from 90-94. i played in a band called otis stone. our brother band was willin, in which noel played fiddle. in addition to seeing him play numerous times, i had the privilege of jamming with him on several occasions. i can’t say i ever really knew noel all that well, but i remember the times i got to spend with him. my sincerest wishes go out to his friends & family. noel, thanks for being a part of our lives.

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