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Instagram post by @johnvanderslice John Vanderslice

Last week, I lost my mom, Margaret Jean Young. She died quickly of a heart attack. She was at her back door getting her three cats inside from the cold. Up until her last day, she was full of energy and sharp as a machete. I miss her dearly.
My mom was tough. She had a difficult childhood in rural Florida, growing up on a farm without running water or electricity. At 36, she had two restive kids, a deadbeat ex-husband, and no job. We lived in a shitty apartment in Jacksonville, FL. She worked and worked, and eventually clawed her way out of Florida, moved us to Maryland, and started her own public relations firm. She ran that company, Young & Associates, for 30 years. It’s still standing.
My mom was universally loved. She had insanely loyal friends and a large, supportive community. No one ever forgot her once they met her. She was funny and charming and refreshingly honest. She cussed a lot. She was a true, old school southern progressive (a rare breed): she didn’t trust cops (or really any authority) and absolutely despised Trump.

My mom was my best friend, my fiercest ally, and a consistent voice of unyielding support. She’s the reason I started playing music: she roped me into piano lessons at six, bought me my first four-track at 14. After that, she just encouraged me to be creative. She always pushed me to do what scared me, from when I was a neurotic wreck playing my first talent show, to opening, and expanding, Tiny Telephone.
My mom was my mentor. Everything I learned about running a business, I learned from her. She was my role model, my teacher, and my hero. She was the first person in her family to go to college, and then topped that by getting a masters in journalism at UCLA.

Many of you know my Mom from my shows. I’ve introduced her to audiences at least a dozen times: at Cat’s Cradle, 9:30 Club, Black Cat, Bowery Ballroom. I even brought her on stage a few times--that was my favorite thing to do on tour. Once, while walking in Chapel Hill, someone recognized and offered her a high-five. Because she was awesome, she high-fived them back.
I adored her and she adored me.


  • 34w ago samueljkim samueljkim

    Thank you for sharing. 😪❤️ She sounded truly remarkable. Lots of love to you. ❤️❤️❤️

  • 34w ago mutterfudder mutterfudder

    Very sorry for your loss JV.

  • 34w ago bencbarwick bencbarwick

    Thinking of you John. Your Mom sounds wonderful. This is beautiful. ❤

  • 34w ago metodd metodd

    Very sorry to hear this JV.

  • 34w ago billmix billmix

    Sorry for your loss, John. Keeping you in my thoughts.

  • 34w ago okproductions okproductions

    John so sorry to hear this. I remember talking to you about growing up in Jacksonville. My thoughts are with you. Alex

  • 34w ago thelonelywild thelonelywild

    So sorry for your loss JV. Miss you! Sending lots of love your way

  • 34w ago inhouseradio inhouseradio

    Love to you and to your mom, JV. I think it's clear to anyone who's kept track of you for a while what an extraordinary lady she was. I'm so sorry for your loss. Jeremy

  • 34w ago doctwanson doctwanson

    @johnvanderslice So sorry to here about your mother. It seems like you both loved each other to the fullest. She will always be with you and at your shows in spirit. Condolences John.

  • 34w ago saskatella saskatella

    My condolences. What a wonderful lady!

  • 34w ago thebootsie thebootsie

    So sorry for your loss, much love to your family during this time.

  • 34w ago slkarim slkarim

    She sounds like a person we lost too early. I know it hurts to lose a parent. Snuggle up with someone you love, look at the waves, drink hot tea, and keep being the creative person she raised you to be. Much love.

  • 34w ago friendswithjeans friendswithjeans

  • 34w ago brandonpreszpix brandonpreszpix

    She sounds like an amazing person and raised an amazing son. Sending you love.

  • 34w ago babyseventies babyseventies

    how beautiful. so sorry for your sudden loss. her magic will weave through your music, no doubt. ❤️

  • 34w ago repeatpenguin repeatpenguin

    I'm so sorry John. Hugs! Let me know if you need anything.

  • 34w ago trudymade trudymade


  • 34w ago 5kvnkw0rk5 5kvnkw0rk5

    I'm sorry for your loss John. So glad she picked up that 4 track for you to set you on your way

  • 34w ago sadnauseam sadnauseam


  • 34w ago naytronix naytronix

    So sorry JV. Much love to you from me.

  • 34w ago elizapaw elizapaw

    I'm so sorry for your loss. Sending you love

  • 34w ago joshlistens joshlistens

    Sorry for your loss. She sounds like a truly incredible person.

  • 34w ago kentuckywaterfall kentuckywaterfall


  • 34w ago smithersboss smithersboss

    Sorry for your loss

  • 34w ago greenwizzle greenwizzle

    Strong mother love ❤️. Same. Sending peacefulness to you, JV.

  • 34w ago mic66 mic66

    Oh I'm so sorry you lost your Mom so quickly - what you wrote about her was so beautiful! It sounds like you were both very fortunate to have each other. ❤ P.S. don't forget to take care of yourself during all of this

  • 34w ago eerinbee eerinbee

    all my love to you and your family jv ❤

  • 34w ago sar_beez sar_beez


  • 34w ago alsoerinkaustin alsoerinkaustin

    Grieve well. Take care of yourself and say close to the ones you love. She sounds like she left a lot of her love in you. ❤️❤️❤️

  • 34w ago spangley spangley

    I'm so sorry. She sounds like she was an amazing women!

  • 34w ago missellieolson missellieolson

    Hi JV. I'm so sorry about your Mom she was such an amazing person and Mom to you and Ray. She will be missed I always loved her gumption ambition and realness, she was always an inspiration to me. She was so proud of you so keep doing what you are doing she would want that for you. Much love my friend. Hope to see you very soon❤️tmo

  • 34w ago gravityurge gravityurge

    ❤❤❤❤ I'm so sorry, dude. Is there anything we can do? Donate to a cause in her name?

  • 34w ago audiomasterapp audiomasterapp

    👍 👍 👍

  • 34w ago electricdatacamera electricdatacamera

    Amazing testament to your love and hers. In the end your last sentence, incredibly heartfelt, is all that matters. Sorry for your loss my friend.

  • 34w ago rena_mestro rena_mestro

    I am sorry. She was lucky to have a son that makes such great music and is such downtoearth person.

  • 33w ago hey_worm hey_worm

    Much love sent your way John. What a wonderful recount of your mother. What a lovely relationship you two had.

  • 30w ago carryillinois carryillinois

    Sending love John ❤

  • 30w ago danielwademcclain danielwademcclain

    Sorry John. May light perpetual shine on her. You've written a beautiful eulogy of her here- what a tribute to such an amazing person.

  • 26w ago janedarvie janedarvie

    Sorry for your loss John. Much love man.

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