Gary was best-known as the singer for the Ex-Idols, a notorious Los Angeles/Orange County punk band active in the early 1990s.
I knew him as the leader of Tuscaurora, a loud-as-hell rock band in the late 90s. Gary wrote terrific, creative songs, sang with a unique voice, and played left-handed guitar. As musicians go, Gary was the real deal.
Gary was a charismatic, talented, and troubled person. He had an infectious smile and true punk's sense of fun, adventure, and a lust for chaos. Whenever I think of him, I think of him smiling or laughing.
I didn't know him well, but well enough. Well enough to know how much he loved and idolized Kurt Cobain. How passionate he was about music. And drinking.
I spent time with his kids. I saw his bands play. I saw Gary set fire to a stage. My then-girlfriend Anne was the bass player for Tuscaurora and the keyboard player for the M-80s, an 80s cover band who were one of the inspirations for Sid Luscious and The Pants.
I reconnected with Gary briefly a few years ago. At that time, Gary was taking composition classes, "learning to write real music", he said. It sounded like he had moved beyond his self-destructive tendencies and achieved a new kind of happiness and stability in his life.
I am sure Gary's better friends are feeling the same way I am about him these days: Surprised. Not surprised. Disappointed. Angry. Sad. Mystified. Grateful that we had him as long as we did.
In addition to his music and devastated friends, he leaves behind 3 children.
The world is the poorer for his decision to quit its stage.
Tuscaurora - Like We Were Never
Tuscaurora - Beautiful Nothing
Tuscaurora - Get You High
The Ex-Idols - Kind of a Sid and Nancy Song
The Ex-Idols have made their music available for free download.
"He took it all too far, but boy could he play guitar"
- David Bowie, Ziggy Stardust