On Friday morning I learned of the tragic death of Garth McLeod. Its two days later and no-one really seems to know what happened and I am still trying to assimilate the information.
Garth was one of those people who pretty much everyone just liked. In the mid 90’s, when I started to manage Scabby Annie, he was one of the people that helped me most. He gave me the list of names and phone numbers of all the clubs that Sugardrive was playing and said to me, “Tell them that Garth from Sugardrive recommended you call.”
At the time I had no idea what that meant. But when I did start working my way through that list I soon realised that Garth’s endorsement opened doors. Every single club owner commented on his friendliness, professionalism and their ability to deliver, no matter the conditions. As the in-band manager, this was all driven by Garth. And without hesitation he gave that endorsement and that info to a guy who had known for 6 months and a 3-piece punk band from Benoni. From that day on I listened very carefully to everything he said.
Watching Garth play was a dream. When Sugardrive started their famous “In The Circle” shows, I would always make sure I sat in a place where I could watch what that man did on his kit. Whether he was playing along to pre-programmed loops or free-styling through a breakdown, his coordination, inventiveness and technique were always impressive to watch. And I am not even a drummer.
When Garth one day said to Roger, the drummer from Scabby Annie, “Man you’re fast, I hate having to play after you!” Roger was the most pleased drummer on the planet. Compliments like that meant a lot, no because they were infrequent, but because the recipients knew they were genuine and came from a competitive guy who didn’t say stuff lightly.
Garth, as we grew older we saw less and less of each other. But every time I visited Marshall Music you were ready with a smile and a chat, no matter how stressful your day. I guess I am battling to assimilate the info because I just don’t want to. To Annie, your wife, my sincere condolences. I don’t really know you at all, but having known Garth, I feel for you.
It’s been a rough few weeks for rock and roll. This is the second time I am writing about death in as many weeks, and Caleb Eastwood from the Jedi Rollers in PE was also lost to us in this time. What can I say? Life and death happens. We do not know enough to avoid it. I only take comfort from the fact that every one of these people who has passed on from the here and now, LIVED their lives and we who remain behind for now, are all the better for them having been here at all.
Garth, as we said at Phil’s wake, Rock In Paradise my friend. Missing you already.