Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Phreddie on Gordon Spaeth. We lost another real original... (thanks Phast)
Click HERE to read Joe Bonomo's equally fine obit in Fleshtones Hall Of Fame.

"Dear friends,

It is with much sadness that I must convey the news to you of the death of our friend Gordon Spaeth. During the eighties he was the fifth Fleshtone.

When told about his demise on Thursday, I could not bring myself to actually believe it until I saw Gordon lying in wake at a viewing earlier this evening. He lied so still--Gordon was NEVER still in his life, it seems to me. If he wasn't jumping around on stage,he fidgeted or had a nervous twitch, or something. He was always a man in motion.It did not seem possible that he could just lie there and not even blink his eyes.

From talking to some of his old friends this evening, including members of The Fleshtones and Adny Shernoff (who went to school with Gordon,) I was able to gather the following:

Soon after he got out of high school, Gordon was involved in a drunken brawl that resulted in the death of his opponent--Gordon hit the guy and his head hit something hard. Gordon served some time in jail for this--at least a year and a half--and he never recovered from it psychologically. He turned to drinking and drugging, which kept him from being able to keep a real day job.

Drinking and drugging did not hinder him from becoming a Fleshtone, however.
In spite of the demons that he faced on a daily basis, Gordon's saxophone, harmonica and organ playing contributed mightily to the success (at least artistically, if not financially) of our favorite Super Rock group. Gordon's extroverted musical stylings fit in perfect with The Fleshtones' all-action-all-the-time stage show. Indeed, on The Fleshtones album THE ANGRY YEARS he is credited as having provided "excitement."

Gordon was a sweet man. In the early eighties, my band, Phast Phreddie & Thee Precisions, had a gig at some frat party near San Bernadino. It was one of the times when we were confounded by our regular sax player (Steve Berlin) having a better gig (with The Blasters) out of town. The Fleshtones were in Los Angeles recording. Gordon wasn't needed in the studio, so he volunteered his services for the evening. He rehearsed with us once and off we went. It was a fiasco, of course, but it was a fun one--made more fun by Gordon's presence.

Gordon lived basically via the kindness of strangers--namely government aid in a single room occupancy hotel. In recent years, he had cut down considerably on the drinking and drugging. He played with The Waldos in November (photos of that event can be seen here: u=4217386&a=31678470&vt=vp ) and he was scheduled to record with The Master Plan (Adny Shernoff and Keith Streng) next week.

But his demons got to him again, and this time he could not shake them off.
Last Tuesday (March 8) he leaped from his apartment window to his death.

I had not seen Gordon in a long time--maybe about a year or so. I knew he was troubled, but I didn't think it was that bad. Perhaps he put up a good front around me--he was always laughing and joking when I saw him. I am going to miss him, his saxophone playing and his laughter.

Be well, Phast Phreddie Patterson"