Bob Westbrook, a longtime Marina del Rey resident, passed away Saturday, March 24th, at Cedars Sinai Medical Center. He was 68.
Westbrook, an heir to a multi-million dollar oil fortune, succumbed to emphysema after ‘a roller-coaster life of great pleasures and tremendous sorrow,’ said Ross Altman, a friend and member of a folk-music club called Santa Monica Traditional Folk.
He was orphaned by the time he was 12, losing his father, who was killed in an air battle in the Pacific Theater in World War II and later losing his mother, who died in what was described as a freak accident at sea.
‘His star-crossed life suggests a Charles Dickens novel wrapped up in a Hank Williams’ song,’ Altman said.
Westbrook inherited the family patrimony after his grandmother passed away in 1954 when he was 15. In sudden possession of such largess, Westbrook began living the high life, according to Altman.
‘He lived large, but he took his friends along for the ride,’ he said.
Westbrook owned Fairchild’s on the famed La Cienega Restaurant Row and entertained some of Hollywood’s brightest stars, according to his friend. He later lost the restaurant in a fire.
Altman says that, 30 years after inheriting the family fortune, Westbrook had lost it all, due to no fault of his own.
He later developed an interest in folk music and soon after joined the Santa Monica Traditional Folk Music Club.
‘While other folkies took off in the direction of Bob Dylan, Bob stuck to what he loved best, and mastered the classical Ramirez guitar he’d picked up in Spain,’ Altman said.
He recorded one self-produced CD, Passing Through.
Westbrook is survived by his daughter, Robyn, his grandson Lucca and granddaughter Basha.
The Santa Monica Traditional Folk Music Club will host a memorial for singer-songwriter Bob Westbrook at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 6th, at the Friends Meeting House in Santa Monica, 1440 Harvard St. It is free and open to the public.