It was at the 400 that the red-haired Sverkerson gave the Jayhawks a shot earlier in their career, and he often shuffled patrons out the door at the end of the night with the phrase "You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here." According to an interview with the Current, these words helped inspire Semisonic's Dan Wilson to include the lines in the band's hit single "Closing Time."
After leaving the 400 Bar in the early '90s, Sverkerson managed at Hubert's by the Metrodome, among other spots, and joined his brother Conrad at First Avenue in 2005. A genial fellow to all who spent time with him, he provided a hospitable presence for artists (and even journalists) visiting the venue.
According to a detailed obit at the Current, Sverkerson was diagnosed with an immune system affliction known as aplastic anemia about three years ago. Only a few weeks ago a doctor's visit revealed that an aggressive form of cancer was in his lungs and was spreading to the rest of his body.
Many members of the local music community have already voiced their sorrow for the loss of such a kind friend and colleague:
Trampled by Turtles frontman Dave Simonett:
In my few years on the road no one has made my band feel more comfortable or at home at a venue than Billy Sverkerson. You are missed.
our thoughts go out to the friends and family of Billy Sverkerson. a true rock star. we will miss you, brother. rest in peace.-- atmosphere (@atmosphere) November 24, 2013
The 4onthefloor's Gabriel Douglas:
RIP Billy Sverkerson a good friend and gentleman. http://t.co/h0GHSyJVVd-- Ike Reilly (@IkeReilly) November 25, 2013
The Current's Ali Lozoff:
When I moved to MPLS, Billy was one of the mainstay faces I would see at First Avenue & 7th St Entry. Even before... http://t.co/zoXDZkV7jG-- gabrieldouglas (@gabrieldouglas) November 25, 2013
DJ Jake Rudh:
Our supportive and tight-knit music scene is starting to say goodbye to a lot of good people. RIP Billy Sverkerson, a day after #FanofSue.-- Ali Lozoff (@AliLozoff) November 24, 2013
We will publish information about his memorial service when it is made public.
I am so crushed to hear of billy sverkerson's passing. he was a highlight of my tenure working for first ave & later playing there, too-- Claire de Lune (@ClaireMPLS) November 24, 2013