Today the world lost Paul Allen, the great billionaire co-founder of Microsoft. He was seeking treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer he beat nine years ago. He was childhood friends with Bill Gates and, together, their love for technology set their lives on a trajectory to build one of the biggest and most influential tech companies of our era.
Maybe it’s just me, but you ever ask yourself what kind of life you’d live if you had all the money in the world? Paul Allen mastered living beyond his wildest dreams, using his wealth to explore a multitude of passions and causes. He wasn’t just a true titan of American business; he mastered being a rich guy in a way that looked really, really, really fucking fun. He owned the Seahawks and the Portland Trailblazers. He was oddly obsessed with shipwrecks.
I’ll let others focus on his contribution to modern sports culture. I’m consistently fascinated by what Allen accomplished in the music world. He was an avid guitar player, creating a studio session band called Paul Allen & The Underthinkers. They recorded an album in 2013 and it’s stacked with great American jam talent: Ivan Neville, Derek Trucks, and Joe Walsh, along with Paul’s smokey blues riffs.
The great American record producer Quincy Jones once said that Allen was, himself, Jimi Hendrix reincarnated:
Paul Allen could SHRED and did some publiclly on almost every occasion he could. Listen to him rip on Jimi Hendrix’s “Hear My Train a Comin'” at Sky Church in Seattle six years ago:
The most amazing thing is that he RIPPED in a suit and collared shirt almost every single time he took the stage. That’s James Brown-levels of commitment to the wardrobe game:
And this one is my favorite: Paul Allen taking the stage with Derek Trucks in Jersey City after the Seahawks beat the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. Dude just won the biggest title in sports and took the stage to shred it up in celebration.
Rest easy, Paul. Jam hard up there.