I don't know if 'gutted' is the proper adjective to use, but it comes pretty close to how I feel right now. I awoke to the news that a man that I admired, a drumming Legend, someone that I would listen to play on records and be amazed at how effortlessly the fills and accents and tempo changes and style shifts seemed to just emanate from his very being, had passed away in the night at the age of 49, and the world had became just a little less brighter than it was the day before. I fucking hate it.
I can't even recall how many times I've seen Conflict. Doing a couple of Tours with them makes specifics difficult to focus on, but I'll never ever forget the first time I ever saw them perform. The first time they played in L.A. in the early 80's was such an event it was surreal. There was no social media to hype up their appearance, no chat rooms to spread the word, it was just a sense of feeling that you HAD to be there, that you HAD to see this amazing band who had put out such life affirming music, singles like This It Not Enough - Stand Up And Fucking Fight, To A Nation Of Animal Lovers, The Serenade Is Dead, and masterpiece albums like Increase The Pressure, and It's Time To See Who's Who, passionate, powerful music with a message done as only the British can do it. Other bands you could blow off, because they would be playing next month or next summer, whatever, but you couldn't do that with Conflict. No. Fucking. Way. And their arrival in sunny Southern California hit the region hard, like an earthquake, with their gig at the Olympic Auditorium setting off a powder keg of controversy and drawing a huge dividing line in the local Punk scene of either Pro-Conflict or Anti-Conflict. Like the band said, it was time to see who was who. And we did. That night was crazy. Gang fights, Police war on the masses, and for the time in the early 80's it was just another Friday night in downtown L.A. Their next gig @ Fender's Ballroom in Long Beach was the clincher. It was set up to be the showdown, because everyone was talking about the gig on Friday, what happened, who said what, who fucked up who, and now the warring sides had time to organize, time to get their shit together, and they did, and they all converged on the tiny city by the sea in a scene reminiscent of the seminal Quadrophenia scene where the Mods and Rockers clash; different time, same stupid fighting macho insecurity bullshit mentality, and the war needed a soundtrack, a soundtrack the gangs thought that Conflict was going to provide, and Conflict wasn't having any part of it. Nope.
Skirmishes were being set off everywhere inside and outside of the venue. People were vocalizing things loudly, shouting, swearing, squaring off, it was just fucking crazy, thick with tension and ready to explode at any moment, and in the midst of it all comes this thick bloke, a real Yob looking slab of man, eating what appeared to be a carne asada burrito and drinking a beer, just walking around with a smile on his face, asking people what the fuss was all about, and just telling people to not be so serious and just enjoy the music. And people listened, shockingly enough. I watched him and thought to myself, "Isn't that the drummer from Conflict? RAD!!" and I went over and introduced myself and that's the first time I met Paco, one of my many Heroes, and I was thrilled to see he was just another guy like us, living Life, having fun, and not taking things so seriously. He was a Drummer. I got it. The more I got to know him, the more I got to love him - always cheerful, always fun to be around, such a sweetheart of a man, lived Life to the fullest and had a great time doing it. I can play the first side of Increase The Pressure flawlessly, because that was a record that I would put on and play along to while practicing my drumming, amazed at the drum work being done, hoping to someday be half as good as he was, and hearing of his passing just makes me feel every bit of my mortality and even more dreadful of my impending doom. Paco had been sick for a while now, diabetes related from what I recall, and I'm not going to sit here and act like we were best buddies, thick as thieves, but I always had the hope that I would one day see Paco again, share a beer with him, some laughs, and just remind him of what a huge influence he was on me, and now that it's never going to happen, I'm a little bummed out about it. Godspeed Paco. Your musical legacy will never be forgotten. You will be missed. Rest easy my friend. You've earned it.
Idle Gossip updated
Music Review: Better Broken - Understanding Delivery
Pictures: Walk Proud @Blacklight District Lounge
Music Review:Living On Hope Street. Vol. 3
Pictures: A Broken Line @The Breach
Pictures: P200 @The Griffin
Gig Calendar updated
Music Review: Unfair Fight - False Walls