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Renewed call for Billy Ruane recognition in Cambridge

Billy Ruane, as always, front and center at a show, this one by Descendents at TT the Bear’s in 1987.
Billy Ruane, as always, front and center at a show, this one by Descendents at TT the Bear’s in 1987. JJ Gonson

It’s been nearly seven years since Billy Ruane died and that, his many friends and admirers say, is long enough to wait for the city of Cambridge to memorialize him.

So they’ve revived efforts to designate a space, or perhaps erect a statue, honoring Ruane, the much-loved promoter and impresario who lived to support local musicians and energize the music scene generally.

Writing on iPetitions.com, Good Road founder Brian Coleman calls Ruane an “integral, enthusiastic — and vociferous — fixture in Boston’s music and arts scene,” especially in Central Square, where he booked shows at the Middle East and the dearly departed TT the Bear’s.

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“We feel strongly that the corner of Brookline Street and Green Street — where he could frequently be seen exhorting friends and strangers alike to attend shows at the Middle East, TTs, or many other venues in the city on any given night — would be a perfect place for Billy Ruane Square,” Coleman writes.

Some of the petitions requesting that Cambridge memorialize the late promoter Billy Ruane.
Some of the petitions requesting that Cambridge memorialize the late promoter Billy Ruane.handout

The timing is right. Ruane, who died unexpectedly in 2010, would have turned 60 in November, which, as Coleman notes, is the 30th anniversary of Ruane’s first big booking at TT’s, the Middle East, and the Green Street Grill. (There’s also a chance that Michael Gill’s documentary about Ruane, which has been in the works for a while, will be finished by the fall.)

So far, the online petition has more than 400 signatures as well as encouraging comments from countless musicians and others, including Willie Alexander, Mission of Burma’s Clinton Conley, Fuzzy’s Hilken Mancini and Chris Toppin, Mel Lederman, photogragher Wayne Viens, and Berklee prof George Howard.

In addition, Middle East owner Joseph Sater has collected a few thousand signatures on a petition he’s circulated among patrons of the club.

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“The response has been overwhelming, which isn’t surprising considering that Billy was known by everyone and loved by everyone,” Coleman told us Friday. “Honestly, I don’t think we even need a petition. We just wanted to do it to show the city how people feel about this.”