Everybody knew. Chris was the first of three drummers to audition. Halfway
through the first song, it was over. Chris had a steady meter, power, great feel,
and an uncanny ability to set up shots. The two other drummers waiting to audition
recognized his talent. The third drummer to try out was Mitch; I said I would
call him. “No, You won’t,” He replied, and he was right.
Chris and I worked together for seven years. We drove thousands of miles and
played countless gigs. Chris was the most dedicated musician I ever knew. The
metronome was his constant companion, and he practiced obsessively on his
practice pad. He had a spot on his thigh where the nerves were dead from continual
drumming. Boop Bop, Boop Bop, all the rudiments; slow at first, then
gradually faster. He had talent, no doubt, but all that work made him something
special. He often rented a room in my house; we spent a lot of time together.
There were four different bass players in the band during that time, and he continued
working with Bruce, another fine musician and friend, for many years after
the Fins disbanded.
The drums are the pulse and punctuation of a rock band. Counting in, setting
the groove, supporting the vocalist snd pushing soloists, he was the leader on
stage. Chris was always focused on the task and possessed a smooth and energetic
demeanour. He made us all better; his dedication was infectious.
But enough about that – Chris had a dark sense of humour. He was fun to be
around. All the practice made him comfortable and confident on stage; Chris always
encouraged us to entertain the crowd. On a tour of the Mideast, he did a
photo essay on camel toes, actual camel toes. On travel days, he was my
pharmacist. “Okay Dave, whadda You got” was his opening line after Sunday
breakfast, before the long drive to the next gig. I would empty my pockets and
do a “Show and tell.” Acid, hash, weed, a bottle of Jack etc., Chris would carefully
guide me through the day as he drove; “Better eat a chunk of that hash
now, and wash it down with some Jack.” That was Chris, always trying to help.
We had some movies we repeatedly watched – Scarface, Monster Zero (Japanese
Sci-Fi), various Clint Eastwoods and of course, the noble Monopoly tradition
that was unique to The Fins. Women loved Chris, but he was often suspicious
or unaware of their interest. One week in Kimberly, a waitress named Kim
had a massive crush on Chris and planned to take him home on Saturday night.
She showed up at the bar (it was her day off) and got pretty drunk. We said
goodnight to Chris and planned our evening Monopoly game without him as she
led him away. As we were getting ready to roll, in comes Chris with his usual
three-pack of 7-11 hotdogs. “She passed out; deal me in,” he said with a huge
grin. It was clear that playing Monopoly with the band was his personal choice.
Another road trip found Chris, me and a lovely blonde woman in the ‘Roxy Rowboat’
my inflatable rubber raft. We were rowing around Osoyoos Lake, reasonably
drunk. We got in an argument about who we would be on Gilligans Island.
Chris and I wanted to be Mary Anne, and the woman thought I should be the
skipper. But, of course, she wanted to be Mary Anne too, and a heated discussion
ensued. Chris and I did the only sensible thing we could think of and threw
her off the raft. After a few minutes, we looked over and saw her standing on the
shore in her white cotton dress, soaking wet, waiting for Chris. I dropped him off
on the beach.
It is impossible to explain the bond of friendship or how much he influenced me
as a musician and person. The songs, the laughs, the inside jokes; I loved the
guy. Calm, confident, professional, always prepared. A natural leader in his
unique quiet way.
We were playing at the Overlander in Williams Lake when Chris knocked on my
door. “Let’s go shopping at Saan,” he said. Saan was like a low-brow Zellers; we
went shopping for props for the evening show. “I think you need to wrestle Elio
tonight,” stated Chris. So, we got black Isotoner gloves, a black Balaclava and a
pair of black double knit underwear. The plan was to come out in my Dayton
boots, Balaclava, black briefs and gloves to fight Elio. As the band played ‘Peter
Gunn,” I strode out in my outfit and challenged Elio, who put down his guitar
and dove on me. We fought a ridiculous wrestling match for five minutes, only
stopping to sniff the stripper’s pole. The crowd was dumbfounded, speechless.
Years later, I rented a sound system to a country band that played at the Overlander.
The bar owner told them about it.
After the Fins, Chris went on to play with the immensely talented Mike Norman
for many years, live and in the studio. Unfortunately, when Mike lost his battle
with Cancer, Chris lost a friend and many gigs. Bruce Morrison, a former Fin and
Chris played with Rick Tippe from 1994 through 2011. Chris collaborated with
Simon Jarrett in Rocket Science and worked with a wide range of musicians.
Talent without baggage; that was his way. Unfortunately, Chris fought Cancer for
many years and passed away in 2020. However, we always stayed in touch and
had a Fins reunion for two nights in 2017. His playing was sublime. The band
got together every year to play Monopoly and talk about old times. Chris was a
great player and fun to be around. More than anything, he was my friend.