An Audiobook Legend Passes Away
My plans were to post a post-Audie Awards blog today, to share some memories, photos and video of the gala held here in Los Angeles this past weekend, but sadly, life has intervened. Frank Muller passed away yesterday. I received the call last night and spent a very sad evening, wishing I had had the chance to know him. For those of you unaware of Frank’s work, he was a legendary audiobook narrator, the first real giant of the industry, whose talents brought the medium new attention…Keep Reading
My plans were to post a post-Audie Awards blog today, to share some memories, photos and video of the gala held here in Los Angeles this past weekend, but sadly, life has intervened.
Frank Muller passed away yesterday. I received the call last night and spent a very sad evening, wishing I had had the chance to know him.
For those of you unaware of Frank’s work, he was a legendary audiobook narrator, the first real giant of the industry, whose talents brought the medium new attention and the respect it deserved. This was back in the days when the idea of walking into your local bookstore and actually finding anything you were looking for on cassette was a virtual impossibility, when most people assumed audiobooks were done for the blind, not the general public. Frank lent his voice to numerous literary giants and helped convey their words to an entirely new audience, and for that, he should always be remembered, respected and revered.
Sadly, Frank suffered a debilitating motorcycle accident in 2001, which left him unable to work further in the industry that so embraced him. Sadder for me personally, I never had the chance to meet Frank until after his accident. It was a quick meeting, I was one of many people crowding around him at the 2003 Audie Awards in Los Angeles, when he made his first public appearance after his accident and was on hand to receive an award he won that night. It was a lovely moment, and I was honored to be present, but it was nearly impossible for me to convey to him how much I appreciated his work in so little time.
In any industry, any discipline, there is an inherent respect and admiration that must be present for the generation that came before, for the trailblazers who helped lead the way and establish opportunities for those who come later. Any African-American baseball player should have a deep-seated gratitude toward Jackie Robinson for breaking the color barrier, any modern-day actor should thank God for Charlie Chaplin having run the gauntlet of international celebrity years ago, and if any modern-day NASCAR driver has no respect for Richard Petty, he should be kicked out of the sport. Similarly, anyone who makes a living recording audiobooks as I do should kneel down and thank God for Frank Muller. I know I do. I just wish I could have conveyed that to Frank in person.
Another person we should give thanks to is Stephen King. Stephen wrote lovingly about Frank and his work in DARK TOWER V: WOLVES OF CALLA, the first novel in the series he wrote after Frank’s horrible accident. He dedicated the novel to him and wrote a moving description of their friendship in the Afterword. He also, with fellow authors John Grisham, Peter Straub and Pat Conroy, held a reading of their work in order to benefit Frank’s recovery in 2002. He helped create a charitable foundation, WaveDancer, to help Frank’s family through the long and arduous process. Damn decent of him, a truly extraordinary thing to do.
For those of you, like me, mourning the loss of such an extraordinary talent and wishing you could hear him talk about the business he loved so much, I encourage you to check out this rare gem: in 1999, Frank recorded John Grisham’s THE TESTAMENT, and as a bonus feature, voiced a six-minute discussion of the process that went into its creation. He talks about everything from the research he did, to the joys of voicing each character in the story, to the very state of the industry as he saw it late in the 20th century. It’s altogether too brief, only six minutes long, but it’s a gift he gave us, a rare insight into the mind of someone so amazingly talented. Its official title is FRANK MULLER ON READING THE TESTAMENT, and you can find it at Audible.com by doing a keyword search under “Frank Muller.”
If you have problems downloading it, you can click the listen icon and hear it in its entirety. You can also hear Stephen King’s Wavedancer benefit on Audible by going to their site and plugging in the keyword “Wavedancer.” I hope you’ll give them both a listen.
If you knew Frank or knew his work and are moved to make any kind of charitable contribution, I hope you’ll visit his website and do so. You can find it at www.frankmullerhome.com.
I wish there were more to say, but given our loss of so great a voice, silence seems more appropriate.