Arts & Culture
9:20 am
Tue January 14, 2014

UWM Rock Professor, Harley Historian Dies at 67

Martin Jack Rosenblum in his UWM offices
Martin Jack Rosenblum in his UWM offices
Credit Trapper Schoepp/UWM

Note: The memorial for Dr. Rosenblum has been changed to a new location on UWM's campus - the Helen Bader Concert Hall in the Helene Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts.

Noted Milwaukee rock and roll and Harley Davidson historian Martin Jack Rosenblum died over the weekend. He was 67.

He was the founder of UWM’s certificate program in rock and roll studies, launched in 2011.

“I started to realize that this thing we call rock and roll was certainly moving into a different artistic realm and very obviously moving from low to high culture and academia was not dealing with it,” Rosenblum told UWM's Media Milwaukee in 2012.

He also served as Senior Lecturer in Music History & Literature at UW-Milwaukee’s Peck School of the Arts, and was a favorite professor on campus. A 2012 feature on Rosenblum and the rock program by Lake Effect alum Trapper Schoepp describes him thusly:

Rosenblum has gained a reputation around UWM as not only a hands-on and enthusiastic professor, but also the cool professor. He can be spotted around campus in his round Lennon-style glasses, smoking hand rolled cigarettes, and wearing a black blazer even on the hottest of days.

“Is there anyone more bad ass than Martin Jack Rosenblum," Zink asks. "He showed me that there was artistic value in the music that influenced me but also that there could be that same value in my own music.”

UWM graduate student Graham Marlowe says he often wonders where Rosenblum finds the energy to carry on the way he does.

“He was well into his 60's and yet he walked and talked like a still-hip sage from outer space,” Marlowe says.

Marlowe also noted Rosenblum’s unique teaching style.

“Instead of the traditional, pre-packaged boredom of ‘do readings, come in and listen to me disseminate the readings for you in a prescribed way’ classes, Marty ran his wide-ranging lectures like improvisational jazz performances,” he says.

He was also a prolific musician and songwriter, known as the "Holy Ranger." He served as a mentor and inspiration to many Milwaukee musicians and academics alike.

Rosenblum also served as historian for Harley-Davidson, and was the author of 20 books of poetry and more than a dozen CDs of original songs, including Walking Through, on which he sings and plays both guitar and harmonica.

A memorial for Rosenblum will be held this Thursday, January 16, at 3 PM at the Helen Bader Concert Hall in the Helene Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts.