Misc, Reporting

USF Mourns the “Professor of Pop”

Originally published in The San Francisco Foghorn
3 October 2013

Last Thursday afternoon, Led Zeppelin echoed throughout Fromm Hall in honor of Andrew Goodwin, a Media Studies professor whose passion for popular music and critical theory helped pioneer the major as it is known and loved at USF.

Friends, family, colleagues and former students, all stunned by his sudden loss in a fire on September 10, gathered to recall his memory and share anecdotes about Goodwin, a man recalled as profoundly passionate about popular culture— hence his self-assigned nickname, “The Professor of Pop.” The London native’s love for pop culture was rivaled only by his passion for the Chelsea Football Club.

Goodwin lectured students on the profundity of MGMT videos, shocking them with his scholarly affection for the drug-tinged electronic duo. He was a man who “danced to progressive rock while waiting in line for Crossroads,” said former student George Sanchez (‘01), who once even spotted his former professor on a weeknight at San Francisco hip-hop venue 330 Ritch. Sanchez, a student of Goodwin’s in the late 1990’s (and at the height of the Spice Girls’ fame), spoke fondly of the man he called “Andy Spice – but never to his face! And get this— Goodwin once even kind of indirectly opened for The Clash at 1978’s famous Rock Against Racism festival, a story he loved telling.”

Goodwin was recalled as a man whose very being revolved around music: as a musician, music lover, and a professor. Especially as a professor.

“We just talked about Morrissey and The Smiths for an hour,” recalled USF alumnus Travis Hayes of the first time he ever met Goodwin. Hayes, a rising singer-songwriter, credits his former professor for exposing him to many of the musical contacts that have helped him in his career. “He was a really good presence in my life. He really secured the fact that I wanted to be here in San Francisco doing [music].”

Chris Carson and two other Goodwin alumni, Chet Bently and Chris Moore, dedicated two full pag- es in their zine “Keepeyes” to Goodwin’s memory. Carson read the tribute aloud during an open-mic portion of the service. Like many other speakers, Carson’s remarks were filled with pregnant pauses and throat clearing as he relayed the immense influence of his former professor.

At USF, Goodwin’s influence extended past the classroom and into the curriculum and the lives of his fellow faculty. “He was the founder of media studies,” recalled Bernadette Barker-Plummer, chair of the Media Studies department. “It was totally his vision. He had this idea of where we were going, of theory and practice, of wanting students to be able to do stuff. That part of the major came from him – he wanted students to have a part.” Goodwin connected with students not only as a professor, but also as a fellow music lover. Said Barker-Plummer, “He was a total fan as well as a theorist, which is rare. That’s why he connected with our students, because they loved music too and wanted to understand it better.”

Professor Elliot Neaman, another colleague and longtime friend of Goodwin’s, began the service with an acoustic mashup of “Dazed and Confused” and “Whole Lotta Love” — both Zeppelin songs — and then ended it with a playlist crafted by Goodwin. “His death came as a shock to everyone,” said Neaman. “After he was gone we realized how special he was all over again. He wasn’t just smart. He was also very kind. He was a real mix.”

Goodwin’s son, James Foley, spoke of his father’s loves for music, USF, and how he experienced the three of them together. “I have very fond memories of spending time at USF with my dad over the years. I’d often accompany him on weekends to [his KUSF radio show] Britpop, where he would let me read out the names of songs and the soccer scores from the weekend games in England,” said James. “Looking back, I feel so grateful to have had such a meaningful relationship with him. He nurtured me and encouraged me to grow, but allowed me the freedom to develop my own ideas about the world, in the same way I imagine he did with his students.”

As a final nod to Goodwin’s rich history with music, his own drum- sticks and a beloved cymbal were displayed at the event. Alongside were tracklists for a double album he’d been working on, a discography of all the music he’d recorded with his former band, Dry Rib, and the table of contents for an unfinished book about Led Zeppelin.

For now, students can only hope that someday “Narrative Attack: Double Exposure” shows up on the shelves of Amoeba Records, or that “Led Zeppelin: Sound, Space and Structure” gets displayed at Green Apple Books.

Goodwin is survived by his son James, his sister Ann in England, and his fiancé Sandy. His work survives in his writing, his music, and his lasting influence on generations of students.

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