Butch Rock


In 1981 I moved to Eureka, California for a year. I rented a room in this flophouse, the Greyhound Hotel. This guy who lived in one of the rooms down the hall from me was this guy named Butch. He had an electric guitar and an amp in his room. And I’d often hear him jamming away gleefully as I passed by in the hallway
So I was intrigued (I’m a bit of a rocknroll freak).

So I got to know this guy Butch. And some nights I’d hang out with him in his hotel room and jam. I’d break out my electric guitar. And Butch would brew up a batch of magic mushroom tea (they grew all over the place in Humboldt County in the winter). Along with a fifth of whiskey to take the edge off. And we would jam.

Butch had good skills on the guitar. He leaned towards heavy metal and fuzz tone power chords. But he liked classic rock too. (In between playing a Black Sabbath song he might also play “I Will Follow” by U2, with that classic riff, and anything by the Rolling Stones.)

But a favorite song to jam on when the psychedelic mushroom tea was truly percolating in our souls (for lack of a better word) was “Hey Joe” by Jimi Hendrix
It was a perfect song to jam on when you were deranged on drugs and whiskey
Because it has the same 5-chord progression repeating itself through the entire song. Starting in E and ending in E. So it was easy to play. You didn’t have to worry about some middle 8 suddenly popping up with weird chords.

Me and Butch were both trying to live out some weird Rocknroll Fantasy back then. He was a Keith Richards wannabe and I was a John Lennon wannabe. Butch was also an excellent songwriter. He was too much into the drugs and alcohol to perform his music professionally on stage or in recording studios. But a local rock band who played at the local bars and clubs often performed cover versions of his songs live. Like I said he was a good songwriter.

But that’s as far as Butch ever got in the music business or living out his Rocknroll Fantasy.

Sometimes — when “Hey Joe” comes on the radio — I’ll wonder what ever happened to ole Butch. He disappeared without a trace. Of course I still have a cheap cassette recording of our crazy jams. I labeled it “Butch Rock.” He could really play.



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