Miscellaneous Rumbles

I miss Bear!

1

I just received an email reminding me that it was the third anniversary of his passing. His humor would have helped a lot of us get through this past year.

2

He once gave me a leather velcro'd wolf tone killer strip that was embossed with "Bear". It still lives in the case of my 6120.

3

He was one of a kind that’s for sure. A good guy to his bones.

5

One of my fond memories of the ‘11 Nashville Round Up was playing a duet of Windy & Warm with Richard Hudson while Steve played bass.

6

I was honored when he asked me to send him the backing trax for "Ghost Riders" about a year before he passed. He liked the tracks and thought it would be a fairly fun song to play. Unfortunately, he never managed to send me back a copy with his playing on it.

I would've loved to hear his licks.

7

Bear was a fine fellow, for sure, for the most part sunny right up to the end (allowing for intervals of darkness and unsteadiness of affect brought on by his physical condition) and always large-hearted and generous.

It could sometimes seem - from this online presence - that he over-dramatized the imminent likelihood of his own mortality. But in fact, in all the time I knew him, the end was always truly near, and I don't doubt that he felt that more acutely some times than at others. I'm sure some days he felt like he couldn't feel that bad and see many more days.

There's a way in which we never knew the Bear that was, in his prime - a burly gentle bear of a biker whose conventional senses of decency, loyalty, patriotism, brotherhood, and morality/ethics - whose code - you nevertheless would not have wanted to cross. The strong, active and ambitious father and provider who managed a plating business in California - before business reverses and failing health drove him to the Louisville area where he first lived in a trailer, and then moved in with his daughter - must have been an absolute mountain of a man.

That decline had to have taken a lot out of him, and likely deepened his kind-eyed, large-hearted gratitude and gravitas. Reduced in circumstance and scope for action, he nonetheless kept self-pity at the bare minimum which was almost required as he considered his options. And he always took the best option available to him, connecting online and sending out his decency, instinctive tolerance (which was sometimes at variance with his own code, but always won out over it), and warm benevolence to everyone.

He followed his remaining passions and pursuits in the Bear Cave - the maybe 15' x 15' basement room his daughter and son-in-law remodeled for him. He had his stuffed recliner with sidetable, lamp, and amp, a couch and chair for visitors, computer desk, a glass cabinet full of die-cast models of bikes and cars that meant something to him, and the ever-churning small collection of guitars hung on the wall.

For as long as it was physically feasible, music was a lifeline. Bear was a fine player, never flashy - seemingly unsophisticated and without conscious command of theory and harmony - but with an innate understanding of what would sound good, when and where, and the quiet command to deftly and without drama put it there. He knew a lot of material, over a wider range of genres and styles than you might expect. No matter what was playing around him, he always fit in and contributed something essential.

He had a great ear, seemingly connected directly to his fingers (and maybe routed through the heart) - and was the kind of player I call "band glue." His sense of rhythm was uncanny: always in the pocket, steady, sure. Not fancy - but whether he played bass or guitar, everyone simply sounded better when he was playing. He had the gift of somehow putting everyone else's parts into a context where they worked ideally. Things sounded cleaner, leaner, and simpler when Bear was part of the combo - though it was rarely evident just how that magic worked.

He agreed once to do a gig with my son and I at the now-gone supper club located along the Blue River in Indiana, between my place and his (but closer to his). I'd asked him to play bass on our several-hour slate of originals, and sent him chord sheets and basic guitar tracks to introduce him to the songs. I looked forward to the gig, and know it would have been a special night - but in the week leading up to the date, one of his constellations of physical conditions worsened, and he had to cancel.

Those conditions included congestive heart failure, a touch of COPD, diabetes, kidney problems (if I recall aright), and persistent anxiety - a natural result of everything else. He was frequently on oxygen, and his daily medication regimen must have taken a spreadsheet to manage. While he often shared some of this here, he didn't make everything public, and I don't think any of us know just how bad he had it.

Getting on the GDP and virtually hanging with his friends here was perhaps the main focus of his declining years. He could participate here on an equal basis, where his physical condition just didn't matter; here, he could be OK again, and usually manage to give the impression he was healthier than he was. Some days, it was the greatest effort - and the greatest joy - he could manage. I have no doubt the GDP extended his life, and immeasurably improved its quality.

For years, I was prepared for the news that Bear had gone into hibernation for good. How he withstood the succession of small heart attacks for as long as he did is something of a mystery - and/or a testament to the sheer physical and psychic stamina he'd once had. So I was not surprised when the news came.

Of course I miss him, but I know both how physically diminished he was - and how far the ripples of his good nature had spread through this online community, how deep they went. No man is truly missing as long as he is missed.

I just don't know how the physical plant could have held up longer than it did - and the merest touch of COVID would surely have taken him down. Maybe it's just as well he didn't see 2020.

8

I miss him here also.. He was a good one for sure

9

well writ proteus...i also thought about his chances of survival in these covid days

he loved guitars and he loved music

that's why we all are here!

cheers

10

Controversial at times. But who isn't. Steve lent a lot of credibility, humor, musical acumen and of course - humanity - to the GDP. I deeply appreciated his presence. I wasn't here when he passed so I didn't have a chance to mourn with you all. So my late late condolences to all his friends here, and of course, to his family - especially Baby Bear.

Proteus, thank you for that wonderful bio/tribute. I've cut and pasted your words into my personal files. And thanks to Don for this thread.

To Bear - you are missed, my friend...

11

I was fortunate enough to meet and jam with Bear several times over the years. My best friend Mike who sounded like Johnny Cash made it with me a few times. Bear played bass, I was Luther and Mike and I would take turns singing.

12

I was just thinking of Bear last week. I bought an old bass that has belonged to a few friends, and it made me start thinking about not only the story behind the specific instrument, but how happy Bear was when he got that short scale Jazzmaster bass and started playing again periodically. I remember the picture of him sitting in what I think was a nursing home where he played his first gig in years. I think I'm remembering this right... Anyway, one hell of a dude, and he will forever be missed around here. I wish I could share all the motorcycle things I'm learning with him, he was so passionate to talk to, and especially kind to newbies, never condescending about things of which he was knowledgeable.

RIP Bear, hope you're having a blast jamming wherever you are.

13

One of the biggest downsides of having a site up this long is remembering those we’ve lost, and Bear was a huge loss. I miss him too.

As the Elks toast, “to our absent members!”

14

I had the pleasure of bringing Bear to one of our Round-ups in Nashville. I got to see the Bear Cave first hand and met his family. Good ole Bear had a way about him for sure. Dude could sport a smile like no one else.

I think of Bear every time I pick up my G5191BK. I got a strap from him that has the bear claw right at the strap button. Every time I see that Bear claw I think of Steve. Great write up, Tim, and well deserved toast, Bax. Here's one of my favorite videos of Steve...AKA the Bear.

15

Let me add a video of Bear playing "The Bear", a guitar that I now own. A short time after this, Steve indicated that he needed to sell the guitar to cover some incurred bills. This was his first Pro-Series Gretsch but obviously not his last.

One of the mods I made to the guitar:

16

One of the biggest downsides of having a site up this long is remembering those we’ve lost, and Bear was a huge loss. I miss him too.

As the Elks toast, “to our absent members!”

– Baxter

Tim, I know what you mean, but having a site up this long enabled us to get to know folks like Bear. I’d much rather to have had a friend that I lost, than to never know the friend at all. So thank you again, Tim for creating this community. Thanks to Don for the thread and Proteus for the beautiful sentiments.

I miss Bear as well, although I didn’t know him as well as some of you. We shared a few posts over the years and I finally got to meet him at the 2012 Nashville Roundup. I will say he was a true Country Gent and I’m blessed to have known him

17

Y'All know he was my 1st guitar teacher. He was surprised that I can read music & told me he could not. That surprised me. He taught me so much more than guitar. Near his last bit of time, he asked me to be his attorney; turned out he thought he could tell me his non-legal health secrets, during a lesson, with the caution that I couldn't tell. He loved that game and always laughed as I explained for the bajillionth time about that.

One of my favorite memories of Bear was of him looking over the little outfits I got us to give John & Enid when their own precious Olivia was coming to be their baby Girl. He was like a kid himself, and chuckled at the little bears.

Another sweet memory was when I drove us about an hour from Louisville to TommyFest. (Incidentally, we sat with Mr. & Mrs. Farmer Brown.) Bear was struck that Tommy himself said he'd heard so much about him and was so glad to meet him. (I mentioned Bear to Tommy when we visited at CAAS; but there was no need to tell Bear that, now, was there.)

He was complex, to be sure, but a Dear Ole Bear. I'll find us more photos, soon.

18

So I’ve been away from this site for a few years—I guess I just got lazy and favored the Gretsch FB groups because they’re always there in my feed. But tonight I clicked on the GDP bookmark for a visit and this is the first post I see. I’m sad to see the news that he passed, and that it was three years ago. Could that much time really have flown by?

RIP Bear. He brought so much to this group as Proteus wisely penned.

19

Welcome back, Tim. Hope you stick around. I can hardly imagine it's been three years myself.

20

Welcome back, Tim. Hope you stick around. I can hardly imagine it's been three years myself.

– Suprdave

Thanks Supr, I will make it a point. Can’t believe I strayed away for that long. This forum really is like no other, by any format or by any social media platform du jour.

21

I met Bear at my first Roundup. Got to play with him as he was on bass. There’s always something about veteran players. Whether on bass or guitar, they “get” the differences and know how to fall in accordingly. Bear was one of those guys. I also remember him having me laughing uncontrollably when we’d get to hang out. As cliche’ed as the term can be, he truly was a “gentle giant”.

Wonder how Baby Bear’s doin’.

22

A message to Bear thru the GDP turned into a healthy back-and-forth via emails for a good amount of time. Of all of the things that I know he was, the most important that still shines brighter than ever was his kindness.....I told him so quite a few times and that I thought it was maybe the most important attribute a person can display. It made him happy that I told him because of this, amongst other things, that he was a gift to humanity. It makes me happy to know I was telling him the truth. I told him he was important, and of course I was telling the truth again.

Of course I also contacted him about certain questions and pointers......as Proteus noted, the timing of his playing was spot on and I noticed it. It turned into a topic we touched upon more than others when talking shop.

I certainly do miss him and am thankful for his time here.

23

Boy that was a great read Tim. I’m so glad we went and visited him in the bear cave that time. It was truly a privilege to know him.

24

IDK how I missed this thread the first time around. GDP is definitely a lesser place without Bear, he is missed.

25

Just a bump to remind us what we were talking about before 1/2/21, The GDP's Lost Day.

(My protocol is to find topics I commented on which were active in the last 48 hours. This won't catch everything, because I hadn't participated in every thread. Y'all could also find started-by-you threads with activity in the last 48, and similarly bump them, and then we'll remember what we were talking about.)


Register Sign in to join the conversation