William Michael Knapp of Waterbury passed away peacefully on March 14, 2022. He was born on December 10, 1960, to William Henry Knapp and Evelyn Cody Knapp of Stratford, CT.
He grew up on Hollywood Avenue in Stratford riding bikes with friends, buying old 45s at tag sales, and watching the waters of Long Island Sound at the Sea Wall and Long Beach. He had an early interest in music, and his parents purchased his first drum set when he was 7 years old, as they were tired of listening to him drum on phone books. William also took organ lessons from a neighbor and first learned how to push boundaries by developing his own musical style and language, much to the chagrin of his teacher.
After the sudden passing of his father in 1972, music became even more important to William for solace and comfort. His mother, Evelyn, supported and fostered this passion. His true love was drumming and percussion, and much of his early life was characterized by starting bands with friends and practicing and recording in the “Blue Basement” studio of his home in the 1970s and 1980s. His influences were wide and diverse, including early AM radio, Elton John, David Bowie, Cheap Trick, Blondie, early punk, and new wave. Unbeknownst to his mother, he often snuck away with friends and took the train into New York City, carefully hiding money in his shoe, to witness firsthand the revolution of music at such epic spots as CBGBs in its heyday.
William was also known as “Bill” in the local music scene at a local all-ages club called the Anthrax in Stamford and Norwalk. With his technical knowledge, he operated the sound board for countless local and touring bands. He was a true believer in fostering the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) attitude, encouraging others to play music and forming or participating in a never-ending stream of bands, including The Xtras, Reflex from Pain, C.I.A., Shelter, Onion, Explodee, 76% Uncertain, superfallingstars, and singing bridges.
It was at the Stamford Anthrax that Bill met his first wife, Laura. They married, settled in Newtown, and had two children—Brechin Cody and Tyler Brooks—all within a few short years in the early nineties prior to their split in 1993.
Among William’s many hobbies was radio, and his interest first began with talking to friends on the CB in the 1970s and grew into becoming a licensed ham radio operator, most recently with the call sign WA1WK. He received many ham radio awards and was well-respected internationally for his kind, supportive, and professional demeanor. William was famed for operating “low wattage” and speaking with new and old friends around the world with his small “antenna farm” in Waterbury.
William met the love of his life, Christine Jewell, at The Beat in Port Chester, New York in July of 1998. Together, they spent more than two decades sharing their passions and hobbies, including vintage BMW cars, ham radio, and music. In 2004, they launched their record label, Skipping Stones Records, releasing indie music worldwide. They also ran several DIY indie music festivals in Northampton, MA, called Popfest! New England, from 2004 – 2010. Ever the dream team, William encouraged Christine to learn bass, and together they played with friends in their band, singing bridges.
Professionally, William used his design and engineering talents in his work at AB-CD Planetwide, Morgan Sign Company, advertising agencies, and freelance work. He was the Creative Director for Cyberbury Interactive, a subsidiary of the Republican-American, in Waterbury from 2000 - 2008, initiating forward-thinking projects such as online tools for local car dealers and real estate companies. He also volunteered at the American Radio Relay League in Newington, CT and contributed ham radio reviews to its QST magazine.
William is survived by his wife, Christine; his daughter, Brechin Knapp of New Haven, CT; and his son, Tyler Knapp and his wife Hilary, of Old Lyme, CT. He also leaves behind countless friends around the globe, all of whom will miss him dearly.
William’s life will be celebrated with a tribute music event in New Haven, CT, TBD. His ashes will be spread in Long Island Sound at a privately held gathering at a time to be determined by his surviving family.