Ryan. Ryno is what we called him. The most popular of his many aliases. Gone. Died. Brain tumor took him at age 42, a month away from 43. My age. He fought. We prayed and fought as best we could at a distance. Some closer than others. Weird to watch someone die. I visited him last week and haven’t seen him since the benefit for his medical bills back in July 2010.
My band the World Famous Crawlspace Brothers were playing a show with my friend Vince’s Misfits tribute band in Delaware, Walk Among Us in 2006. I met Ryan because he was a friend with Vince and was video taping Walk Among Us. Ryan was a big guy and wore glasses and had that I don’t give a shit nerd look. He was very nice. He went on to video tape a few songs of my band as well.
When we were done playing Ryan came up to our merchandise table and bought our cd and T-shirt. He asked us all to autograph the cd. He was the ultimate fan boy. I relate because I can be quite the fan boy with other bands and celebrities. He made us feel really god about our performance. He wanted to make a dvd of our show for us and also post it on YouTube.
A few days later he showed up at my work and handed me 4 dvds of The World Famous Crawlspace Brothers. 1 for each band member. I offered him money but he refused and said he loves the songs and performance. I thanked him and this was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. We kept in touch through the months and he showed up at all of our shows in Delaware.
I discovered Ryan’s music projects on MySpace. He had a heavy metal band called Chemikiller that was incredible. He had a “scum rock” band called 4x that was also great. I loved his music. He was also a huge Kiss fan and was in a Kiss tribute band called Strange Ways and he dressed up like Gene Simmons. I had the pleasure of seeing him. Despite the initial shock of seeing the big guy in tight spandex, platform shoes and make up, his performance, singing and bass playing was amazing. He took on the Gene Simmons persona and I forgot it was Ryan. One of my favorite shows to this day. He later went on to play in The Hellside Wranglers with Vince and Pat from Walk Among Us and myself. It was a more aggressive electric punk version of The World Famous Crawlspace Brothers. He joined up with Vince’s Walk Among Us, The Hated with friend Dan and eventually close friend Brian. Vince and Ryan also started a band called the Negative Zeros. He was always playing, recording, performing and out there.
As I got to know him better I realized despite his talents he was human with human problems like the rest of us. We didn’t hang out as much as we should have but we were there for each other when the chips came falling down.
My one regret is that we never did a Hellside Wranglers reunion like he has wanted to do for the last 2 years. I just lost interest in playing out. I never lost interest in my friendship with Ryan. We didn’t get together as much as we should have but we knew what we had. Once you are in a band with someone there is a universal connection and friendship that lasts forever. At least for me.
In April or May, I can’t remember when exactly, Ryan’s friend Brian called me and told me that Ryan had brain cancer. I heard many stories of how serious it was and didn’t know what to believe. I couldn’t get to the Hospital to see him but I was able to talk to him and he explained ot me what happened. He was getting headaches and memory loss. He said that the final straw was when he was forgetting how to play songs that he has been playing for over 20 years. He went and had it checked out and found out he had the tumor. Most of it was removed and what was left was cancerous. I felt so bad. I prayed for Ryan every day since I found out. Even this morning before I found out he passed, I prayed for him and his family.
July 3rd 2010, we had a great fundraising show and I actually played solo with my acoustic guitar. Ryan was there. He was bald from the chemotherapy. He had trouble speaking but had no problem singing along to my songs that only Ryan knows so well. He knew how to play almost everyone of my songs better than I do. There was a decent crowd and a lot of friend’s bands there to support him. He had a great time. This was the last time I saw him until last week.
I got a call that he is going fast and I better visit him. I got his wife Kim’s phone number and made an appointment. I saw him last week and he was in and out of consciousness. He knew who I was but could barely speak. I hung out as long as I could and left having a feeling it was to be the last time I would see him alive. It was. I wanted to visit him this week but I ran out of money and couldn’t afford the gas.
I checked my messages today and Ryan’s friend Brian left a message to call him. I could hear him crying. I knew. I went on Ryan’s facebook page to see before I called Brian back. There were messages with sympathy etc. I cried. I called Brian.
Ryan was a dedicated musician and a genius on the guitar and bass. I will remember him for these qualities as well as his unconditional love and friendship.
I’m going to go cry some more.
He will always be alive in his music and the memories of family, friends and fans.