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Tuesday, August 02, 2022

James Mazzeo: 1944 - 2022 (UPDATED: Statement by Neil Young)

James "Bandit" Mazzeo - 2015 
(Click photo to enlarge)

James Mazzeo has passed.

Artist James Mazzeo painted Neil Young's album cover Zuma, as well as, Greendale album cover and stage set designs. 

We're greatly saddened here @ TW, as we had the honor & privilege to meet and speak with Mazz multiple times over the years (see below)

Neil Young & Crazy Horse - 1975

Artist James Mazzeo re-visited the Zuma world after 30 years


UPDATED: Statement by Neil Young via NYA:

The artist Mazzeo, my old friend of 52 years, passed away Tuesday morning August 2nd. He was my life friend.

A great artist, Mazzeo defined what it is to be dedicated to your work. We had so many wonderful times together in our 52 years of friendship. Mazz was one of the first friends I made after moving to Broken Arrow Ranch in September 1970, settling there for years, and raising a family.

Mazzeo created the album cover for Zuma, the Greendale sets and internal artwork for both the Greendale live and film productions as well as countless other projects we did. He played Earl Green in the Greendale film.

‘The Artist Perspective,’ one of the many things we did together, will continue in the Times Contrarian. The latest piece I recently acquired from Mazz will be hanging in our new home down in the Southland. Always the artist, Mazz was dedicated, continuing to paint throughout his time here on Earth. He was wonderful in the way he approached his art and life!

Love you Mazz and we will all really miss you.



Back in 2004, we revealed that artist Jim Mazzeo was the subject of Neil's Greendale song "Bandit" according to a Metroactive newspaper article by Rebecca Patt.

Alexey Butirskiy, Jim Mazzeo and Neil Young by Gabreal Franklin
Greendale Artist Jim Mazzeo is "The Bandit"

The lyrics: "You're hard to reach, no one can reach you, but I can reach you" apparently refer to Mazzeo's relationship with Young.

    "And he can reach me, 'cause he's like my best friend, and he knows he can," says Mazzeo.

Mazzeo also worked on over 140 pen-and-ink illustrations for the book of Greendale. In the interview Mazzeo said:
    "In the back, there is a really nice supplement all about me and my artwork and my biography, which is really going to be a feather in my cap when it comes out."

"Earl Green" (James "Bandit" Mazzeo)
via frame from "RETURN TO GREENDALE" | NYA


Jim Mazzeo is well known for the cover art for the album "Zuma", as well as, the Greendale artwork for the album and tour backdrop projections. 

Brad "More Barn" w/ Mazz - ~2011

"Deju Blue"
w/ James "Bandit" Mazzeo, ZUMA & Greendale Album Cover Artist - 2015

Remembering The Warmth & Love of Bridge School Concerts


w/ Artist James Mazzeo
Bridge 2011 - International Rust Festival
On The Beach in Santa Cruz, CA
(note TW Anniversary Button on Mazz's left lapel -
Button Design and Production by Rusties Geoff, Dee & Tim A. Thanks!)

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At 8/02/2022 05:39:00 PM, Blogger Jim said...

So sad to hear. R.I.P. Mazz...always loved your style man 🎨

At 8/02/2022 07:18:00 PM, Blogger Richie Cruz said...

Oh, that's a real sad one to hear. Neil wouldn't be where he is without some strange and wonderful characters that were positioned perfectly in his universe, and Mazz most certainly fit that mold. I got to smoke a joint with him once in Santa Cruz at the art gallery when they were showing his Greendale artwork. I wanted to be all smart and cool with him, but in my stoned state, I just blurted out something dumb about Zuma. He was patient and cool with me as he realized I was just a dopey Neil fan. Such a nice guy.

RIP to a true artist.

At 8/03/2022 02:56:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

James Mazzeo, RIP.

No Ostin, RIP.

Thanks for the Art / Music!

At 8/03/2022 01:47:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

Thanks for the words guys.

We miss Mazz madly already.

We did get to know Mazz somewhat, post greendale era.

Met him several times over the years at Bridge school concerts. Around 2012 or so, Mazz started gallery viewings in sync w/ annual Bridge event and quite a number of rusties would make their pilgrimage down to Santa Cruz.

It was an honor to meet him and have him ask to be "pinned". Pinned w/ a little TW button -- which you can see if look closely on his lapel above.

Mazz appreciated all we and other rusties did to help him promote his art in his later years. It kept him going he said.

Mazz, you were THE Bandit. And, just so you know, even though your wings have turned to stone, we got DangerBird.

Fly, fly, fly

peace be with you

At 8/03/2022 03:43:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

I was a Facebook “friend” of Mazzeo. Back in 2015, he objected to my cynical posts about the rigged DNC Primary. He took offense that I would badmouth HRC. We later refriended and he remembered nothing from our previous exchange. I also used to be facebook friends with Ralph Molina, a hard core em right winger. I unfriended him in a dispute over values. But he sure did play the drums in 2001, we now know!

Toast is a killer Neil a young (& Crazy Horse) album (and why the F are they not in Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?!

Mazzeo was a passionate Artist, and along with Mo Ostin, will be missed greatly. So Mo Ostin is Moe the Sleaze! I did not know that. He’s the one with the shakey knees. And apparently an. Appreciator of Neil Young’s fine work! Thank you Mo! Thank you Mazzeo. May you find a better world where you are headed!

Meanwhile, we Fight On for planet Earth.

Your Brother Alan in Seattle

At 8/03/2022 04:28:00 PM, Blogger Shakeydave said...

I think i remember seeing Mazzeo on the stage doing a painting during one of the tours, it maybe have been Greendale, i loved it

then later i bought one of his original prints and he sent it to me himself and signed it Mazzeo

a sad day for the Neil universe, losing Mo Ostin and Mazzeo

keep on rockin in the free world!


At 8/03/2022 06:52:00 PM, Blogger Sandy McL said...

I appreciate your story and thoughts on meeting an “insider”. It points out that simply standing together in space and time, passing a friendly “here we are” is the real and best thing. I, too, overthink what I might say/do if I got close to someone I look up to. I think Neil appears to be one of those who has real-world friends and acquaintances nd that’s all right. Cheers to Jim Mazzeo/Bandit. Never met him yet enjoyed knowing he was around. Glad you got that cool time.

At 8/04/2022 12:38:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

Two key people in Neil’s universe lost. I admire both these men for their valuable part they each played. I’m genuinely saddened by they’re loss, and my heart goes out to the families and friends they each left behind.

Peace 🙏

At 8/04/2022 04:56:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

Hi Dan, hope you are well.

It seems like the Zuma album art is iconic. The image is in my mind like an old friend, connected to that incredible guitar sound on Danger Bird.

At 8/04/2022 11:16:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

@ Abner : My wife pointed out a few days back that SHE was depicted being carried by a seagull on my Zuma shirt!

@ Dan Swan : Yes, 2 more key figures in “what makes the NY Engine tick?!” …. Have been lost. Mortality sucks. But I think Maz & Mo will be doin’ it in Valhalla yet.

My attention turns to Gateway of Love. I see some themes there.

@ Thrasher : I hope to see you all at the Great Gig in the Sky, but until then, Boise will do! (?!). Who’s with me? “We’re going streaking!” (No, we are not!). Neil, come on back to Outlaw Field when ready.

Your Brother Alan in Seattle

At 8/05/2022 05:21:00 AM, Blogger Ron said...

Very sad news on the passing of Mo and James - RIP and condolences to their family and friends.

Unfortunately the collection of obituaries on NYA continues to grow. Must be hard for Neil
... 'there's very few of us left my friend from the days that used to be'.

I was 15 going on 16 years old when Zuma was released and was delighted to add it to my small but growing collection of what we now call 'vinyl'. The music was great, but I was also very taken by Mazzeo's art which was unlike anything else I'd seen. Not just the front cover, but the drawings on the inner sleeve and the back cover, right down to the style of the lettering and the use of hand drawn half moons and stars to indicate who played on which tracks. I spent many hours looking at the cover whilst listening to the album play on my parents' music centre, and even now when I hear a Zuma track I immediately see the cover in my mind. To me it's inseparable from the music.

Nice to see that Neil has said 'The Artist Perspective' will continue in the Contrarian.

At 8/05/2022 11:55:00 AM, Blogger John Davidson said...

Mazz my buddy for 55 years. WHAT A LOSS. In his soul, never a negative sentiment about life -- always sought the bright side of everything.

Hard to believe he is gone!!!!

At 8/06/2022 12:32:00 AM, Blogger wsanjose01 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 8/08/2022 03:33:00 AM, Blogger All Planet Guys said...

Mazz was a life long friend, collaborator, and all around buddy. He is and will be sorely missed, but so pleased and blessed to have had him in my life. Often think of him when people say to me "Nice to see you!" and I reply "Nice to be seen!" - stole that from Mazz. Love ya buddy - Gabreal Franklin / Santa Cruz/ Maui

At 8/12/2022 12:32:00 PM, Blogger Astral Sunday said...

We met at Fleet Sonar School in Key West, FL, back in 1962. We cemented a friendship that carried on through his recent passing. From 300SL liberty weekends in Ft. Lauderdale, to sharing an apartment in Oakland, CA, to our recent daily chats on IG, Mazz has been a positive force in my life, as now in my memory he will always remain. He was never without a sketchbook, and always with a knowing smile. His life was an amazing array of creativity, and exceptionally gifted mentors and friends from Neil Young to Margot St. James, to Alan Watts, and beyond. He was so modest, and so talented, a highly evolved human whom I do and will always now, dearly miss. Should anyone learn of any memorial services for James Mazzeo, please do let me know.


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