Greg Tate, influential critic of black culture, dies at 64
Mr. Tate’s omnivorous nature emerged early on. His family moved to Washington when he was 13, and among their new friends was playwright and poet Thulani Davis. In an interview, she recalled that Greg came to her apartment to listen to records and told her about music, art and literature. He read Amiri Baraka and Rolling Stone equally.
“When he discovered a new sound or a new set of ideas,” said Ms. Davis, “he listened to them or read them obsessively.”
In addition to his daughter, Mr. Tate is survived by a brother, Brian; one sister, Geri Augusto; and a grandson, Nile.
He studied journalism and film at Howard, where he also hosted a radio show and began to dabble in music criticism. Ultimately, Ms Davis recommended that he submit something to The Village Voice, which she knew from music publisher Robert Christgau.
Just before settling permanently in New York City, Mr. Tate befriended Arthur Jafa, another Howard student, who was at the start of his own illustrious career as a videographer. A chance encounter outside the Howard Library, just before Mr. Tate moved to Harlem, turned into an eight-hour conversation, shifting from Greek drama, avant-garde film and the latest sounds from New York.
The two stayed close, exchanging ideas and becoming famous for their public chatting sessions. When Mr. Jafa needed an essay for an exhibition catalog, Mr. Tate wrote it down overnight. On another occasion, Mr. Jafa joined Mr. Tate for an event in Minneapolis, where they ended up talking for 10 hours, becoming a sort of accidental performance art.
“He did not accept false boundaries,” Mr. Jafa said in an interview. “It’s hard to describe what it’s like to have the voice of a generation as a friend. “