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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Tribute to a fallen musician and his family

Well, OK, I know normally it's all comedy here, but today I read this story and I have to say it genuinely disturbed and upset me greatly. If you're looking for funny, feel free to scroll up or down, but today is for the Harveys.

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Back when I was growing up in North Carolina in the 80's, and starting out my life as an independent musician, we really had to take pride in our heroes where we could get them. I mean, the fact is that there were maybe 5 rock clubs in all of North Carolina, each in a different town, and none of them were close to each other at all. There were a few local bands who managed to find a little success in what was then the "alternative" (or "progressive", boy, remember when they called it that?!?) rock scene, and man, we looked up to them.

There was Let's Active (who honestly got more attention because their lead singer Mitch Easter produced the first two R.E.M. albums), there was the dB's (whom I loved! and whom no one has ever heard of, but dammit, I loved them), and The Right Profile (who, in an amazing rock and roll story, actually got a major label deal with Arista Records, and then at the last minute, their lead singer Steven Dubner decided he wanted to be a writer and the band broke up without ever releasing a record. We thought he was crazy then. Today, Steven Dubner is the co-author of the runaway smash hit book Freakanomics, as well as a reporter for The New York Times. I bet he feels ok now with his decision.) Oh sure, later there would be The Squirrel Nut Zippers and The Ben Folds Five, with their top 10 hits, but back in the 80's, man, it was not an easy road to be an independent musician in the South.

The band that ultimately got the most success around that time was this duo from Richmond, Virginia called House Of Freaks. Now, what made them so remarkable was two things: they were the first band who were signed to the (then brand new) Rhino Records label, and the other thing was that, even though there were only two guys in the band (Bryan Harvey and Johnny Hott), they packed a huge rock'n'roll whallop. I mean it, you never heard two people make so much sound before, and they had some really fantastic songs. They were the first band from our area to actually chart a single on the Billboard Top 200 singles with "Rocking Chair", and I remember really being proud of those guys for making it.

Ultimately, House Of Freaks broke up, then they joined with Steve Wynn (no, not the casino hotel guy, knucklehead, but the one from The Dream Syndicate) to form Gutterball, who put out a couple of records. Then that band faded, and Harvey and Hott went their separate ways, and settled down into a normal family life, like most of us do eventually. You know, typical story: rock musician struggles against all odds, hits the big time, spotlight eventually fades, and then live out their life in a normal way looking back on the moment in the sun with fond memories. Not bad, right?

Well, this is why this story that I've read today has upset me so much. Bryan Harvey, guitarist and songwriter for House Of Freaks, his wife Kathryn, and his two daughters Stella, 9, and Ruby, 4 were brutally murdered in their own home in Richmond on New Year's Day. It's such a horrible horrible story that frankly I cannot even bear to repeat the details here, as it is so upsetting for me to even think about. But, if you choose the learn the details here or here, you will see that this is very shocking and unimaginable end to this terrific artist. I'm profoundly saddened by these details and my condolences and thoughts go out to all their friends and family.

It's been a while since I've listened to that first House Of Freaks album, but I remember it well, and I remember how it inspired me to keep pursuing my dream as a songwriter and musician. I never met Bryan Harvey, but in some small way, I owe him a thank you for that inspiration. I hope that wherever he is now, he can rest well knowing guys like me will do their best to live up to the example that he set.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Alex said...

I'm so sorry Linz. I don't now what to say. It's beyond imagination.

1/04/2006 11:49 AM

 

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