The singer in the band Fat stupid Ugly People Murphy was a larger-than-life figure with an infectious smile and enough energy for a dozen people, and he became an unofficial ambassador of the city’s underground scene during his travels. Indeed, the loss of Murphy quickly echoed far beyond New Orleans, with social media tributes coming from not only across the U.S. but as far off as Singapore.
“I think of my brother as a big ball of light. He was such a selfless person,” his sister Doennice said Friday.
“He always stuck to his word. He told me he was going to travel the world and have his band and that’s just what he did,” said Hollise's mother, Donnice Murphy.
PHOTO PROVIDED BY TIARE MAUMASI
Hollise Murphy was born in 1985 at Charity Hospital in New Orleans. Growing up in Bunche Village in Metairie. He attended schools in the St. Charles Parish Public School System and Jefferson Parish Public School System.
His sister, Deonnice, said that her younger brother started reading and doing trivia with their grandfather at an early age. “We called him the wiz kid because he was so smart,” said Deonnice. “He was well-spoken, educated and so polite."
Murphy was extremely close to his family. “When we were living on our own, I would feel like I was doing everything wrong. Hollise would always tell me that I was looking at it from the wrong perspective because I was still doing it and that's what's important,” Deonnice said.
Hollise also had a special relationship with his sister Christina, who has autism. "Hollise made sure she knew she was important,” Deonnice said, adding that her brother had helped Christina learn to walk and talk.
“He was a minimalist in material things but was rich in love, compassion and empathy. His love transcends and we can see that now. To see his impact and to have people reach out from all over the world has brought us some comfort,” Deonnice said of her brother, a sentiment born out in the music scene he called home.
Hollise took to music at early age, according to his family, and it would become one of the main focuses of his life. Hollise’s mother Donnice said he would take 3 buses to get to band practice and work on his passion. He quickly became a mainstay of the city’s underground rock scene, performing not only with his own band but also appeared with other bands, notably New Orleans sludge metal band Eyehategod.
Though sometimes overshadowed by the city’s jazz, funk and bounce scenes, New Orleans’ underground is a tight-knit community, and its DIY approach makes it often feel more like a family than anything else.
“I don't think anyone could go to a show in the community and not be affected by his light. I have seen Hollise put a smile on the face of worn-out bands that have been touring for months,” said Antigravity writer William Archambeault, who was close friends with Murphy. “With Hollise it didn't matter if you knew him for 5 seconds or 5 years, he would always make you feel at home.”
His positivity and kindness earned him a reputation that
“When I lived in Japan, I went to a concert for a US band that was coming to town. When I told the band that I was from New Orleans the first thing they asked was if I knew the band Thou, and the second question was if I knew Hollise,” Archambeault said.
Murphy’s band last played in town on the 16th as part of this year’s Creepy Fest. According to Archambeault, at some point during the show someone had given his friend a Burger King crown. “When I ran into him the next night,” Archambeault said, “I told him that he was the king and he told me ‘We all are kings.’”
Funeral arrangements for Hollise Murphy are still being finalized. Friends have set up a GoFundMe to help cover the costs. Murphy leaves behind his two doting nephews, his two sisters, mother, grandfather, two aunts, three uncles and many friends from across the globe.
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