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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Rain Hawkghost

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In 1981 I moved up to Eureka and went to Humboldt State for a couple of semesters. I became friendly with this woman in one of my classes named Rain Hawkghost. I always loved her name. Rain Hawkghost. What a beautiful name. She was a full-blooded Native American Indian.

After class on Friday evenings me and Rain Hawkghost liked to stop in at this Holiday Inn on the highway and drink beers at the bar. They had a free buffet — little meatballs on toothpicks, egg rolls, deep-fried zucchini, stuff like that. We really loaded up while we were drinking. Ha ha.

Sometimes I’d spend the night at her place. She had this big three-story suburban house. She’d been married to this rich lawyer but she divorced him and got the house as part of the settlement. As well as a nice monthly alimony on account of their 7 year-old-daughter. So she was set (I guess she got a better lawyer than him).

She had this big double bed with the softest mattress I had ever slept on. You’d sink way down into it to the point where you felt like you were submerged underwater practically. I remember flailing away on that bed, like bouncing back and forth on a trampoline, while we were getting it on. As they say. And in the morning Rain’s 7-year-old daughter would jump onto the bed and jump up and down for fun.

I was still madly in love with this woman in Berkeley who had dumped me. So I couldn’t muster much passion for Rain Hawkghost. But I was hoping something would develop, if only to take my mind off the Berkeley chick, who I thought about obsessively and relentlessly.

And Rain was sort of “dating around.” Rebounding from a bad marriage and hoping she could find someone to share her life with (and preferably not an asshole like the last one).

So we were both sort of looking at each other thinking: “Is this the one?” That thing you do when you’re searching for love, searching for a mate.

And I remember thinking: “If this clicks I could move in and live in this big suburban house.” Which would have been a big step up from the little hotel room I was living in with nothing but a bed and a sink and a hotplate.

One thing I enjoyed about Rain Hawkghost. Together we looked like John and Yoko. I resembled John Lennon somewhat back then. And she was short and skinny with thick, frizzed-out black hair and she was about 10 years older than me. So she had the Yoko Ono thing going. People would sometimes comment about it as we walked down the street side by side.

Anyways, a couple years ago I wrote a blog about Rain Hawkghost. Shortly after I got an email from this woman who turned out to be Rain’s daughter. She had done a Google search on “Rain Hawkghost” and she had stumbled across my blog. So she was curious who the hell this guy was who was writing about her mother.

I asked her whatever happened to Rain. She said: “She died in a car crash in 1984.”  She was 39.

But that’s the weird thing about the internet. No matter how distant a person is from your distant past. They’re only a click away nowadays.

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