Thursday, January 14, 2010

An old friend of my father died

For those who don't know, my father has been a professional musician since the early 70's, which has alot to do with why I love all kinds of music and always have. While dad spent most of that time as a solo piano player, with steady nights in restaurant piano bars and weddings and anniversary party gigs as he could book them, he had a band or two early on, and at least one of them included a guy named Charlie Kaye on drums.

I've always loved listening to my dad play piano, but back when I was five or six, I was transfixed by Charlie's drums, and one of my best memories from that age is going down to my father's basement "music room" in my feetie pajamas on nights when the band was practicing & "playing" (banging on) Charlie's drum kit for a few minutes (that is, as long as they'd let me), while the band took a break. (Even though my dad was a keyboard player & even had one of his bands named after him--Casper & Friends--I spent several years wanting to be a drummer when I grew up, thanks to Charlie Kaye. To this day I love exploring new rhythms from distant lands, and while I've had many musical & rhythmic influences over the years, I'll give Charlie some of the credit for that, too. I wish I'd stuck with it as a kid and actually learned to play.)

They played softball together, as well. I don't remember whether they were in any kinda league, or if it was just a bunch of bleary-eyed musicians & whatnot getting together on a Sunday afternoon & having fun, but I do know that my dad took my brother & I to a few games. Charlie brought his son, Eric, too.
At one of those games we three got into the wrong cooler & caught a pretty good beer buzz before getting caught. (As the oldest, I got yelled at most of all, even though I'm not so sure any of us knew that we'd done anything wrong by drinkin' the weird tasting soda. It wasn't as though we were intentionally sneakin' beers; we were just thirsty, and didn't know the difference. I don't recall any of us doing anything to hide the cans we was drinkin' out of... It wasn't our fault that no one was paying much attention...)

Charlie Kaye was a good guy, and back in the 70's, he & my dad were pretty close friends...

We got word a day or two ago that Charlie Kaye had a massive heart attack & died on Monday the 11th.

When I was looking online for an obituary & funeral arrangements, I discovered he was still a working musician here on Long Island, with a band named after him, this time. (Last I'd heard, he had his own business... Something to do with electronics, I think--so discovering that he was still playing was a surprise.) There were even videos...

May I present my friend, Charlie Kaye:

Had I known he was still playing live, I might've gone to see him one night, & perhaps even tapped on a cymbal, for old times.

The band also had a website: The Charlie Kaye Band. Charlie is the distinguished gentleman in the center in both photos on the site.

For anyone interested, a few more videos of the Charlie Kaye Band can be found here.
(Updated 1/15/10, 9:30 AM, with small edits for clarity.)

UPDATE: Saturday, 1/16/09, 1:24 AM
Spent the early part of Friday evening with a whole lotta other people at Nocello's Restaurant in Northport, celebrating Charlie's life and saying a last goodbye. While it should've gone on a whole lot longer than it did, Charlie Kaye led a good life in which he made a lot of "best friends," and a lot of people happy. If only we all could have as much said about us after we go.

While we couldn't stay for the whole thing, it was a great send off, and I'd like to make it known that I want something similar when I go. No maudlin wake, with me layin' all stiff in a corner. Fire up the kiln & chant "Ashes, ashes..." etcetera, & then get everyone with the slightest interest in my passing together, hire a good band, bring in some tasty food, and let the good times roll. I'll make a note to try to go in the late spring, early summer, so it can all take place outside somewhere & be just right for y'all...
Added 11/29/11: Since this post often gets hits from people searching for information about what to say to family members left behind, here's a post I came across that those folks might find helpful (keeping in mind it's just one internet stranger's opinion, and may or may not fit your particular situation...) - Sense of Events: What to say to the grieving

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