Gerald Busby

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Gerald Busby
Born (1935-12-16) December 16, 1935 (age 88)
Known for3 Women, Runes

Gerald Busby (born December 16, 1935) is an American composer.

Busby was born in Tyler, Texas.[1] He studied piano as a child, playing with the Houston Symphony when he was fifteen.[2] He attended Yale where he studied music in college, but once graduated, began working as a traveling salesman.[2] At age 40 he had an "epiphany" and began to compose, a direction which surprised him.[3]

In 1977, with the assistance of Virgil Thomson, he moved to the Hotel Chelsea in New York City where he has written most of his work.[2] Living at the Hotel Chelsea brought him into contact with numerous cultural figures. One of them was dancer Rudolf Nureyev and his then-partner Wallace Potts. Potts gave Paul Taylor a recording by Busby's music, which led to Busby writing the score for Taylor's dance Runes.[2] Regarding his scores for Paul Taylor's dance "Runes" and Robert Altman's film 3 Women, Busby said "Those two pieces are acknowledged as masterpieces, so that I know they’ll last beyond me,” Mr. Busby said. “Not because what I did was a masterpiece, but I was part of it."[3]

In 1985 Busby was diagnosed with HIV as was his partner Samuel Byers. Byers died on December 14, 1993; the couple had been together for 18 years. "Sam’s death was just unbearable...He lost his mind and withered away. I was there the whole time with him and taking care of him, so I just went nuts."[3] After a bout of depression and drug addiction, he became sober and began composing again. In 2007, his monthly income amounted to $658 from Social Security, $78 in disability payments, and $156 in food stamps. Income from his music was undependable; in a good month he could get $1000, or nothing. The New York Times ran him as one of their "most neediest cases."[3] Through the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, Busby was able to receive $754.96 for digitizing recordings originally made on perishable cassette tape.[3]

Despite being HIV positive, he claims that his immune system has regenerated, something he attributes to his daily practice of reiki.[2] He continues to live at the Hotel Chelsea.[2]


  1. ^ In the interview with Adam Gopnik he indicated that there was a Baptist minister as part of his growing up.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Gopnik 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d e Rehrmann 2007.


  • Rehrmann, Alexis (2007-12-16). "Back From the Edge, and Living His Life Note by Note". New York Times. Retrieved 2015-09-06.
  • Gopnik, Adam (2015-06-15). "The Last Living Bohemian in Chelsea Tells All". New Yorker. Retrieved 2015-09-06.
  • Lucas, Craig (Winter 1997). "Gerald Busby". BOMB-Artists in Conversation. Vol. 58. Retrieved 2015-09-06.