R.I.P.

Rest in Peace Uncle Don Don

My Uncle Don was the only rock n’ roller in the family.  When we were kids, we called him “Uncle Don Don”.  Our cousin Geoff already had an Uncle Don (my dad), so my mom’s brother became Uncle Don Don.  It’s just much simpler for kids if everybody has a different name.

Uncle Don had curly, flaming red hair.  Those Scottish roots.  In the old days he wore it long.  Come summer, he’d be at the cottage in nothing but a pair of old cutoff jean shorts.  Whether he was playing badminton with us, or just drinking a beer with the adults, he was always there with the jean shorts.

I can reveal now that it was Uncle Don who inspired a portion of Record Store Tales Part 2:  Gimme An R!

“Occasionally we would hear rumours.  Usually these ‘little known facts’ would come from that one uncle that everyone had, the one who wore no shirt, watched a lot of football, and had a handlebar moustache.  Usually this stereotypical uncle would say, ‘Yeah, Helix have been around a long time, like 20 years, I saw them when they were still a country band.  My buddy was in the band too.'”

Uncle Don was the very uncle who told me that Helix were once a country band.  That was him.  No shirt, football and that moustache!  Flaming red.  And jean shorts.

As I got older and into classic rock, we started to connect a little bit.  We were closer in the late 80s and early 90s.  He used to come over to the house and borrow tapes off me so he could record them.  He liked my Zeppelin and my Deep Purple.  From him, I recorded Alice Cooper’s Greatest Hits — my very first Alice.  That happened in the summer of 1989, and I had no idea what to expect from Alice.  I also have a fond memory of us hanging out at the beach one afternoon, just the two of us.  It was a wavy day in August 1992.  I wonder if he wore the jean shorts that day too?

As the years passed, Uncle Don became more reclusive.  I had not seen him in many months.  He was not well.  Cancer was slowly starting to take him.  He knew he was going, and he knew he didn’t have many days left.  At least we had time to prepare.  My mom and aunt, and especially my grandmother, will miss him very much.  Uncle Don was the “baby of the family”, born much later than his two older sisters.  In many ways he had to live with being the “baby of the family” for his whole life.

Uncle Don passed away this afternoon at Freeport hospital in Kitchener.  As a family, we are all relieved that he is no longer in pain.  It is going to take time to process these feelings.  I worry about my grandmother, who still lived with him.  She is 95.  I spoke to her just yesterday.  She is prepared to go on without him, but I worry all the same.

There was nobody else in the family with long hair, listening to Alice Cooper.  It was nice having somebody else with the same tastes.  I thought a bit about what song he would have liked for this post.  I thought about “Over the Hills and Far Away” by Zeppelin, but I think I need a song for me this time. From Alice Cooper’s Greatest Hits, it’s “Teenage Lament ’74”.  The song that jumped out at me immediately as something really special.  The song I played over and over again, trying to figure out the words.  The song that just inexplicably connected with me.  I thought it was neat that I was going into my teens, listening to the music he listened to in his teens.  I started collecting Alice Cooper immediately.  Trash was next, followed by Billion Dollar Babies, School’s Out and Welcome to My Nightmare.  Thanks for introducing me to Alice Cooper, Uncle Don.  You changed a life.  I will never forget you.

 

What a drag it is,
In these gold lame jeans.
Is this the coolest way,
To get though your teens?
Well I cut my hair weird,
I read that it was in.
I look like a rooster,
That was drowned and raised again.

What are you going to do?
I’ll tell you what I’m going to do.
Why don’t you get away?
I’m going to leave today.

I ran into my room,
And I fell down on my knees,
Well I thought that fifteen,
Was going to be a breeze.
I picked up my guitar,
To blast away the clouds,
Somebody in the next room yelled,
You got to turn that damn thing down.

What are you going to do?
I’ll tell you what I’m going to do.
Why don’t you get away?
Well I’m going to cry all day.

R.I.P. Little Richard (1932-2020)

I don’t know when I first heard Little Richard, but I do know when I first loved Little Richard:  1987.  Predator.

Richard Wayne Penniman was 87.  He’ll always be remembered for “Tutti Frutti”, “Long Tall Sally”, and “Good Golly Miss Molly”.  His piano work was astounding and his voice unmistakable.  I’m gonna miss Little Richard.  Rest in peace.

 

R.I.P. John Prine (1946-2020)

I’m not qualified to write this; Tom Morwood is the guy who should be eulogizing John Prine.  Many of us are crushed.  As much as Neil Peart hurt early in the year, so John Prine pains us now.

John Prine, age 73, has succumbed to Covid-19, the latest in a list of artists who did not survive the pandemic.  When this is all over the view will be very different.

When you have earned the praise of Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson and Tom Morwood, you are the real deal.  Prine was that and more.

 

Rest in peace.

R.I.P. Kenny Rogers

When I was really young, my mom bought my grandpa a copy of Kenny Rogers’ Greatest Hits for Christmas.  He ended up getting two copies.  I liked the song “The Gambler”, so I asked my mom if I could have the extra copy.  Surprised, she gave it to me, and so in my earliest record collection, I had the Flintstones, Star Wars, and Kenny Rogers.

Several years later, after joining Columbia House music club, my mom purchased a new Kenny Rogers hits cassette for the car.  That’s when I discovered “Just Dropped In to See What Condition My Condition Was In”, a song that we first found hilarious and then realized was funky and cool. Lebowski just made it cooler.

Kenny Rogers passed away at age 81 peacefully at home. Known for his many hits like “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town”, “Lucille”, and his duets with Dolly Parton, country music will always remember Kenny Rogers.

Rest in Peace.

R.I.P. Roky Erickson (1947-2019)

He didn’t have an easy life, so we hope he will rest in peace.  Roky Erickson was a songwriter extraordinaire, an innovator, and an influencer.   He impacted a young Dave Grohl and befriended ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons.  He was a founder of the psychedelic rock movement with the 13th Floor Elevators.  He also suffered from schizophrenia and endured horrific electro-shock therapy.

Roky Erickson eventually got the right treatment and made a return to recording and touring.  Yet it’s his 60s and 70s material that remains immortal.

Recommended listening:  The Evil One on CD, which is essentially two albums combined into one.  Every single song is amazing, but here’s “Mine Mine Mind” (produced by Stu Cook of CCR).  You can tell he was haunted.  Rest in peace, Roky.

R.I.P. Greg Haymes, aka Sergeant Blotto

Sad news this morning.  I’d heard through the grapevine recently that one of the members of Blotto was sick.  I had a bad feeling about it and this morning I read that Greg Haymes, aka Sergeant Blotto, has passed away from cancer.

This is particularly bitter for me.  I only got into Blotto last year.  I was so into them that Blotto became my favourite band of 2018.  As we drove to and from Toronto to take care of my sick mother in law, we had Blotto blaring in the car almost every time.  “Mum” was dying of cancer, and Blotto helped us forget and just laugh while rocking out.

Now Greg Haymes is gone from the very same, dreadful disease, and I’m pissed off.

Haymes was a writer, a musician, and an artist.  I’m sorry I only got to know his music in the last year.

Hopefully Blotto can bring you some of the joy that they brought to me when I needed it.  Here’s “I Wanna Be A Lifeguard” featuring Greg “Sarge” Haymes on lead vocals.

 

R.I.P. Stan Lee (1922-2018)

Stan, you just had to go, I know that.  You’ve been here for 95 years and entertaining us for most of them.  You gave, and you gave, and you gave.  You deserve your rest now.

Stan, I knew who Spider-man was before I knew the Prime Minister of Canada.  You brought me the Star Wars comics that kept me going between movies.  Through those pages I discovered all that so many of my favourite heroes were yours!  Captain America, Iron Man, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men…I always preferred Marvel to DC and I can’t really explain why.  I liked Superman, but the Marvel lineup was so much better than DC’s.  Their characters were more interesting to me, and it was addictive, how storylines weaved through one title to another.

My dad would buy me one new comic on the trip to the cottage each time. I always chose Marvel.

I wouldn’t be surprised at all if some version of Spider-man is still popular in another 95 years.  Perhaps these characters you helped create will be remembered as literary classics.  If not, I am confident that the Marvel heroes will be a part of our cultural backdrop for a long, long time.

Excelsior!

 

R.I.P. Vinnie Paul Abbott (1964-2018)

“I loved you Vinnie…you were such a good guy, and so nice to me…always…always a great fuckin’ guy.  And I think it’s bull SHIT that you’re not here.” — a tearful Sebastian Bach

 

We have no details, but we do know that Vinnie Paul of Pantera, Damageplan and HellYeah is gone.  He has joined his brother Dimebag Darrell (1966-2004) in the Great Band in the Sky.

To say the metal world is in shock is an understatement.  HellYeah began recording a new album late last year.  Vinnie had shown no signs of slowing down. He has always just carried on.

Rest in peace Vinnie Paul Abbott, who inspired a new generation of metalheads to “Walk”.

R.I.P. Chuck Mosley (1959-2017)

Chuck Mosley, the guy who Cared a Lot, has passed away at age 57 due to his struggles with addiction.

Chuck wasn’t the first Faith No More singer (even Courtney Love was there before him) but he was the guy who put them on the map with two excellent, outrageous albums:  We Care a Lot and Introduce Yourself.  Without Chuck, it is entirely possible there might not be a Mike Patton, who was a huge fan already when he took over the frontman role.  After Faith No More, he spent some time with Bad Brains and as a solo artist.

Chuck was different to the end.  Never one to make safe music.  We will miss you, Chuck.

 

Thanks to Heavy Metal Overload for this news.  

 

RIP Mr. Lahey (John Dunsworth)

My sadness cannot be expressed, nor can the shock. Actor John Dunsworth, best known as the beloved Jim Lahey from Trailer Park Boys, has died at age 71 after a short illness.

Way she goes, bud.

RIP Lahey.