Sunday, September 4, 2016

Bruce Stanley

One of my best friends passed away Thursday.  This is not the way to start my vacation.

With each passing of a friend or family or musician, it is a reminder that nobody here gets out alive.  The only two things that are certain are birth and death, whatever comes between that you make your own way.

I've known Bruce Stanley for at least 25 years.  We shared time together chatting about music at various stores, either Omni and Relics Records, then over at 16th Avenue Music.  We even helped Chris Proctor pack his gear one night.  Legend is that Bruce was a damn good drummer for Redwing (later Sargent Rock, with troubled guitarist Barry Binger) but I always known him to be one of the best guitar players in town.  He played a lot in the 1990s with The Merles, the band he was in with Jerry Scott, who owned Relics from 1990 to 1996.  I spent many a time in both Relics, on the edge of town (now the Best Buy parking lot) and the downtown Hood.

(photo: Matt  Brooks)

Everybody loved Bruce, and if Bruce considered you a friend, he'd go out of his way to say hi to you and bullshit awhile.  He did that even while busy at the pawnshop, that he'd find time to chat.  There isn't many people I let in my life to tell my troubles to,  Bruce is that rare person.

We share one common trait, we loved music to the point that both of us never had a bonding relationship with women.  I think I've seen him with somebody one time in the late 1990s and that lasted about almost a year.  Bruce and I did managed to go see a few shows in 1997-1998.  One was The Honeydogs and Blue Mountain, the other Big Back Forty opened for The Honeydogs to which that billboard still hangs over my closet.  We also seen Gary Louris and Mark Olsen down at CSPS around 2009 or 2010.

Once 16th Avenue Music closed their doors, Bruce moved to Siegel's Jewelry and Pawnshop, to which he had to deal with some of the lowlifes of this town.  And I continue to bother him up there, but I did buy two guitars from him, in 2003, I got a Gibson Les Paul (ole Blackie) and two years later sold me my favorite acoustic guitar, a Guild.  Bruce also was instrumental in selling me a four track hard drive (which died in 2015) and a Line 6 Amp (on life support).  He knew music gear and I'm sure he still had his guitars at his place of residence.   I never been there to his new house, which he bought not even a year ago.

I think he gave it his all, helping fellow musicians and friends along the way, but I think he had been in declining health the past few years.  He smoked too much and and probably didn't exercise enough and the usual factors of life came into play (stress and dealing with people pawning their stuff off).  The last time I chatted with him, we talked about the new Jayhawks album Paging Mr Proust being a disappointment and the new Foghat album.  He got busy and I decided to leave him be for the next time.  The last time I seen him was during the Rumors Metal Jam but didn't get around talking to him.  This week, I wanted to tell him that I finally got to jam with Rick Clay on Dreams and how fun it was but had errands to do and would have to catch him next week.  To which, like Dennis Pusateri, the next time is to pay final respects with him.

Life is tough, it's hard and then you die.  For the past year, I have to deal with job layoffs, pushing my vacation back to get things down at my place of employment and hopefully there would be hope that we can get more contracts to keep going, but at this stage in life, I'm tired of it all.  It hasn't been a good month, my good friend Jeff Kewley's dad passed away at age 94, but he lived a long and fruitful life.   Thursday on his day off, Bruce went home, watched a bit of TV and then took a endless nap.  The guess is that he may have suffered a heart attack.  But perhaps he was just worn out from life and gave it all.

I didn't get the message till 2 AM after hanging with 50 Shades Of Rock at the J and A Tap all night.  It was a fun night till I got the sad message that Bruce departed from this world.  I went to bed weeping. I lost the best friend to talk music to and to tell bad jokes with since Dennis Pusateri.  And it's not going to be the same again.  The friends I still have around are fun to be with and there'll be more fun and laughs with them but only Bruce had the knowledge of knowing who Blue Mountain is, or The Sand Rubies or The Jayhawks.   Let's face it, the era of life as I know it is coming to an end.  The closing of Hastings, and the days of Relics are history.  Can I ever be a fixture at a record store and chat into closing about music with anybody else like Bruce?  I doubt it.

I thought about saying the hell with it and close up shop for a while but that would defeat the sense of purpose.  I'm sure Bruce would come into my dreams telling me to keep looking for new music, keep playing music, keep going as if nothing changed.   So for the most part, I cried a bit more and then went up to Waterloo for another bargain hunt.  I'm sure we'll cry some more when we say one final goodbye to Bruce sometime next week at his visitation.  And life will go on, till the next person that I know passes on.  We're not getting out alive in this life, and I rather not live forever.  Lemmy is gone, Dennis Pusateri is gone, Merle Haggard is gone, and so are 40,000 other people in this world.

But I want to remember Bruce as one of the best friends I ever had and this life and for the past 25 years a highlight to chat with him.  But I wanted to remember him most as the guy behind the counter at Relics, saying in his own way.  Hey Rod, I got a Japanese import of an Matthew Sweet album.  One for me and one for you.

I'll have to find that cd around my archives  to take a listen to it.

BTW, the Brat says she'll miss seeing you too. 

RIP Bruce.

Special Thanks to Carol Becker for the use of  her photos of Bruce during the Relics years. The Top Picture, The Merles picture and the Relics with Jerry Scott above.

Jeff Lawrence shares this 1994 performance photo at Big Dogs.  The band was called The Merles, which he played alongside Jerry Scott.

Lyndal Anthony took a couple of interesting photos of Bruce during the 1980s.  Here's a rare pic of Bruce jamming on a Bo Diddley Type guitar.

Another late 80s photo.


TAD said...

Man, this sucks. None of us know how much time we have left, that's why we gotta make the good times the best we can while we're here.
I remember when my best friend from way-back-in-the-day Don Vincent died of a heart attack out of nowhere a few years back, I was shocked, STUNNED, I went into a tailspin for MONTHS. Because he was WAY healthier than me, almost the definition of Clean Living.
And when I finally got it back together, it really WOKE ME UP. NOW is all we've got -- do it NOW, get it DONE, climb that mountain, write that book, make that music, marry that special woman, whatever makes you happy, do it NOW. Because tomorrow you might not be able to get out of bed. For whatever reason.
Hang in there, buddy. It ain't all hell. It ain't all shit and then you die. I am having the best time of my life RIGHT NOW, and it could happen to you, too.

Jager Ozzy said...

A good Man , Relics Days were The best, Relics (Jerry ,Carol,and Bruce hepled Me bring the one one rock acts of the 80,s and 90,s to Big Dogs , later 3 st live on a monthly basis. We will all meet again @ Big Dogs in the shy, a few of us are already there , Good bye friend , I will see you in the end....Chris Lehner AKA Jager Ozzy

guitarcat said...

I played with Bruce in an amazing band called No Surf with Doug Bright,Darwin Hartl and Bruce on drums. we had a blast playin Richard Thompson,Eric Johnson,REM,U2,Jeff Beck, and a bunch of originals and obscure gems.He was even at my wedding when i was 25..we had befriended at Omni and him hanging out at The Music Loft..I was always a steady customer of music from him there and at Relics..We would talk so long that i would get in trouble when I got back to work.He turned me on to many great bands and records over the years.He bought strings from me and a few guitars before he started at 16th Ave.We then called eachother often,sending customers back and forth.we jammed again a couple times over the years but not as much as we should have.I loved visiting his house and cats on the west side and our laid back rehearsals.I only saw him a few times in the past several years,at Siegels, or shows,and last year he came and visited me at the Loft and we talked about jamming sometime again..I guess that will have to wait

R S Crabb said...

Thanks for leaving some memories Jager Ozzy and Guitarcat! Bruce has touched many lives in his record and band knowledge as well as being a great drummer and guitar player. By the time I got to know him, he was more into guitar playing but once in a while up at 16th Avenue Music he'd lay down a cool drum solo. I'm sure there'll be more stories to tell at the celebration of life for him this Saturday.

All we can is keep on rocking, I'm sure Bruce would want it that way.