Mark Wittenberg (Deceased)

From Bill Manning:

I knew Mark since junior high. Aside from our shared music experiences we also had a love of electronics. Heath Kit and Dynaco stereos and amps were our favorites to build. He was one of the first to get a drivers license and it was hysterical driving with him, not being a large person, with him driving his mom's 65 Chevy Impala Battle Tank, I mean sedan.

We loved exploring canyons by our house and often with Andy went on quite a few adventures including some underground caves you had to crawl on your stomach to get into! Brilliant.

One of my most memorable moments with Mark came years later after Horsefeathers broke up. He was working in Artist Relations for Fender in LA and really liked the job. One day out of the blue he shows up at my car shop in downtown San Diego majorly freaked out. He had just been fired from Fender for no apparent reason. So I left the shop with him and we went down to the harbor to talk about all this. Apparently some new goonball in his dept decided it was time to economize, or something to that effect. After all who needs this guy that interacts with all these artists who coincidentally used Fender guitars?

Mark was very distraught, we had a beer or two, and after a few hours he said he would head over to his mom's and stay there for a day or two. It was later that week he got a call from Fender saying, oh gee, just kidding - we really want you here. Slight mistake. I told him to ask for a raise and I think he did. Came by the shop again to say good bye. We kept in touch with letters and calls and luckily we had one more experience with our Horsefeathers reunion in 1992. Not too long after that he was gone. Forever missed.

From Andy Robinson:

Mark Wittenberg - Itty Bitty Witty - was the closest thing Horsefeathers had to Groucho Marx, who, indeed, was one of his idols. Bill Manning and Mark and I became friends at Montezuma Elementary School, and Mark was the funniest kid we knew, whether making up silly spontaneous songs, or playing characters based on people he'd seen on TV or met in his young travels. Mark's sense of humor laced all our early adventures - trick-or-treating, roaming the local canyons in search of lizards or just to escape the adult-dominated world and ponder the existence of girls or smoke our first cigarettes. (Luckily that last habit didn't stick, but, you know, we had to try.)

Mark knew how to play guitar back then, probably instigated my first public musical performance. We must have been around thirteen when he led us into the echo-y breezeway of a local strip mall to play and sing Bob Dylan's "Blowing in the Wind." I played a cardboard box in lieu of bongos. I'm sure we sounded...amazing...hmm...

Eventually, Mark and Bill and I, along with another friend, Bill Weisinger, were inspired by the Beatles and other British Invasion groups, and decided to form a band. I remember us all leaping around with excitement when The Empty Set got its first gig - a frat party for which we were to be paid the incredible sum of thirty dollars! We were professionals now!

Flash forward a few years, we had gone our separate ways, stumbling through the psychedelic era and various blues and rock bands, and eventually reunited in Horsefeathers. To say that Mark was a versatile musician by this time would be a terrific understatement. Sometimes people suggest a Horsefeathers reunion, which is impractical and actually pointless, largely because such a crucial part of the group's chemistry would be missing: Mark Wittenberg. Mark could rock out with the best of them, and yet I'll never forget the patience and dedication he showed when figuring out painstakingly intricate counterparts to Birney's twisted classical lines.

You can't just plug in another guitarist to a Horsefeathers. Mark Wittenberg was made for us.

When we disbanded in LA, it was inspiring to watch Mark find his own groove in the music business. He worked as guitar tech for Kenny Loggins, and established himself in the AR department of Fender Guitars, where he dealt on a daily basis with some of the greatest musicians of our times. It's hard to imagine anyone not loving Mark Wittenberg. He leaves behind a legacy of good humored friendship with all those who knew him.

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