BY VANESSA FRANKO
STAFF WRITER/Press Enterprise PE.com
With his Flying V guitar and always-present mustache, William “Bill” Bartell, better known as Pat Fear, made his mark on music in the Inland Empire and beyond.
Bartell founded White Flag in the early 1980s in Sunnymead, before the area became incorporated as part of Moreno Valley.
White Flag took the ideals of the burgeoning Los Angeles punk scene and turned them upside down in a tongue-in-cheek fashion.
“He was so into watching the music, he had to make music to get even farther in there,” said longtime friend Marc Goldstein, of Riverside.
Bartell also was a reserve officer with the Beaumont Police Department for a time.
The singer and guitarist was found dead in his Moreno Valley home Tuesday, Sept. 24. The initial report from the Riverside County coroner’s office said the death was due to natural causes, but that results of the standard toxicology tests are pending.
Friends said Bartell had been struggling with declining health in recent years, but had been doing better. He had even attended the FYF Festival in Los Angeles in August to see Black Flag reformation FLAG.
Longtime friends shared memories and photos on social media, as did many of Bartell’s colleagues and fans.
“He would treat everyone like part of his extended family,” said Greg McWhorter, who owns Moreno Valley’s Artifix Records with his wife, Kim.
The record label put out a CD of White Flag’s earliest material.
Matt Leonard, founder of punk band The Maxies and other groups, remembered seeing Bartell and White Flag in punk ‘zine “Maximumrocknroll” when he was growing up. It inspired him that he could go on to release punk records and tour, too.
“It felt like we all made it,” Leonard said.
White Flag released the debut LP “S is for Space” in 1982 and put out more than 20 other releases over the years.
Bartell was always recording and getting more releases out there.
“He felt that it was very important that White Flag continue its legacy,” Goldstein said.
Contributing to this report: Staff writer John Asbury, firstname.lastname@example.org