Jonathan Valania death – obituary, cause of death : Jonathan Valania 55, of Lehigh Valley, has died. He passed away at home in Old City Saturday, September 11.
Jonathan had plans of attending a concert Saturday night; he had not been ill and his death was sudden, his longtime partner said. The cause is still unclear.
Jonathan was writer and Philadelphia music and cultural scene fixture, he was The Phawker founder and he reviewed acts from Iggy Pop to Celine Dion, he always had a strong point of view and language that “sparked off the page,” said Sam Wood, a former Inquirer reporter and friend.
Valania had a rocker’s swagger and the mind of a critic. His somewhat gentle nature made people want to opened up to him, and then he told their stories to audiences large and small sometimes reverently, sometimes bitingly, but always with insight, he was a presence on the Philadelphia music and cultural scene for 30 years.
Jonathan was born and raised in the Lehigh Valley, he was the front man for the Psyclone Rangers, an Allentown-based garage rock band that signed a major record-label deal, toured extensively, and released several albums.
The Phawker founder settled in Philadelphia in the ‘90s and became a writerly figure at the Khyber Pass and the Trocadero and venues around the city, writing mostly music journalism for publications from Philadelphia Weekly and The Inquirer to Rolling Stone.
Valania wrote: “Iggy Pop singlehandedly invented the notion of the lead singer as human cannonball, rolling shirtless in broken glass, throwing himself into hostile crowds, and leaving behind the unsettling impression that there was nothing he would not snort, shoot up or attempt to fornicate with. He has also unleashed some of the most primal, brick-in-the-face rock and roll ever committed to tape.” Says a reviewer in 2001
Mr. Valania was sent around the world by Editor Eric Miller to write stories for Magnet Magazine, which focused more on the alternative music scene. he got invited to Beach Boys genius Brian Wilson’s house in California and appeared in the Wilco documentary ‘I am Trying to Break Your Heart, interviewing the band. (Wilco did not love Mr. Valania’s piece, and a former member of the band later threatened to break Valania’s fingers because of it.)
When the blogosphere exploded and digital media began to reshaped the media landscape, he was at the vanguard, eventually founding Phawker, an online news, culture and commentary site, a platform for his distinctive voice and other Philadelphia voices. There his music sensibilities mixed with progressive politics. This was in the early 2000s.
He was a producer on In the Valley of Sin, a Fox Nation true-crime docuseries and he had researched for years that chronicled a Washington state scandal in which dozens of people were arrested on bogus charges of abusing children.
Mr. Valania was devoted to his family and to JoAnn Loviglio, with whom he shared “a love of words and of music, and spending sunny days at the beach, and crying at movies, long road trips out West, ramen and Peroni, corn from our favorite farm stand, and the most infantile humor,” Loviglio wrote in an online tribute to Mr. Valania.
Funeral arrangements were not immediately available as at the time of writing the report.