Loss of Innocence
By Gary Singh
l LAST WEEK, I carried on about the stirring efforts of South Bay Live, a grass roots endeavor to reshape, again, a live music scene here. But here's an angle that no one wants to talk about, at least when it comes to the underground rock & roll slice of this whole perverted pie: How about all the folks in the live music scene who have died throughout the last 20 years? There are way too many to mention here, but I'll gloss over a few, including one that happened last week.
First things first: I've been around death for pretty much my entire life. My dad died when I was 16. My cousin ran his truck off the road and died a few years earlier. Another cousin killed himself around 1991 or so. My best friend in college, Mike Andrade, died pretty much right in front of me in 1996. Two other good friends in college also died that same year. I've been through a lot.
But back to the now, and allow me to convey a small number of other sordid tidbits. A longtime pal, known as Rockin' Rob Dapello, died inside the Cactus Club at a show in 2001. He was the brother of Lars Frederiksen of Rancid, and a huge tribute concert with 20 bands was staged in his memory shortly thereafter.
A wide variety of bands played. At the time, I had a lounge duo named Gary & Babs, and we opened the whole thing, although hardly anyone was in attendance yet. Old friends from out of the woodwork came to that gig, and hundreds partied inside and outside the club. Rob and I were huge soccer fans and would carry on all night about either that sport or bands like Motorhead or G.B.H. For that tribute show, they made shirts and stickers that said, "Never Forget Rockin' Rob."
Another dude lurking in the shadows of the club scene was a guy named Big Tom Laughlin. He was a skateboarder and a wacky artist who died in 2004. A memorial concert was held for him at the Blank Club, and they made shirts that said, "Never Forget Big Tom." Just last week, an anniversary gig was held, and brand–new shirts were made.
And then there's Pat Dooley, yet one more longtime San Jose scenester. He ended his life just a few years ago, and I still have my "Never Forget Pat Dooley" T-shirt. I've worn the thing a dozen times without washing it; I've spilled beer on it, and that's exactly what he would have wanted.
Basically, you don't have to have any connection to the rock & roll underground club gig scenario—or whatever you call it—to understand that there's a story here. This is community of people—a local community for that matter—who all support each other and party and grow older and strive to try and just eke out a rockin' life in a suburban wasteland.
And last week was the ultimate capper. She was universally known as Choley (rhyming with holy) but her real name was Nichole. After everyone found out she was dead, the amount of drinking that went down, myself included, was ugly. People went on benders for days. She had many, many friends, and if you remember the column I wrote on the Heathers, the female drinking club, she was one of the two damsels who beckoned me into the bar, which led to that story. If you unearth the Feb. 14, 2007, issue of Metro, where the cover story was called "MySpaced Out," she's on the cover on the left. At her funeral, the motorcade should be 10 miles long.
In the words of Menlo Park author Barry Eisler: "It's strange that we think of sexual experience as involving a loss of innocence. I don't see it that way at all. ... It's when you first experience death—and it's the end and it's real and it's final—that's when you really lose your innocence."