Eulogy for a music fan

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Eulogy for a music fan

Postby George Lawrence » Wed Jun 24, 2009 12:46 am

I spoke at my cousin's funeral a couple of weeks ago, the first time I've ever spoken at a funeral. He died young of many afflictions. In final drafting my notes to send to my family I thought it appropriate to post this here to show you fans that we musicians understand your devotion to the music and what it means to be a fanatic, a fan.

My memories of my cousin Frank Maier
I am George Lawrence, Frank’s first cousin on his mother’s side. For four days I’ve been trying to make sense of Frank’s life ending at 54, one year younger than me. The minister will speak about God’s role in that. I can only speak to what I know of Frank’s life and how he led it. I want to talk specifically about two successful aspects of Frank’s life; his music avocation and the way he handled knowing that he would die young.

Frank was the closest thing to a brother I ever had, especially when we were young. My sister Priscilla and I spent a lot of time in Memphis with cousins Frank and Anne. We lived just down the highway in Olive Branch, Mississippi. So my memories of Frank are mostly from our childhood and teenage years. My sister says that Frank idolized me because of my career as a musician, but that’s not exactly right. We inspired each other. Frank was the one who actually gave me my heightened enthusiasm for music. He had a bigger effect on me and my musical ability than he ever knew about and it is only in retrospect that I realize what he did for me. Even though he did not play an instrument he influenced my playing. I’ve never met before or since anyone who was as big a music fanatic as Frank. I learned to play the drums in the elementary school band and I saw the Beatles on Ed Sullivan when I was in fourth grade, but my younger cousin appreciated them more than I did. His depth of excitement about the Beatles was overwhelming and I was very impressed with how headlong he had dived into this music phenomenon. It was contagious and I caught it. I have a deeper appreciation for the rock and roll music form because of Frank.

To say he was a Beatlemaniac would be a vast understatement. He had the Beatles wig, the Beatle boots, the Beatle dolls, the Beatles lunch box, but most of all he had a love of their music. I remember sitting with Frank in his bedroom for hours singing along to the early Beatles and joining in the whole pandemonium that they caused. Of course we were impressed with their daring haircuts and their mod clothes and were really impressed by the screaming girls. We would put on silly music shows for our parents miming to Beatles records with toy guitars and drums and we would make our sisters Anne and Priscilla be our go go dancing girls, and Frank was usually the ring leader in all this. We had silly nicknames for each other; I called him Beatle, for obvious reasons, and he called me Ernie because he thought I looked like the youngest son on the then hit tv show “My Three Sons”. We never stopped calling each other by those silly names. The Beatlemania never stopped and I lay the blame squarely on Frank. I publish a magazine for drummers now and guess who’s on the cover this month? ; Ringo Starr, the Beatle’s drummer.

But as we grew older the Beatles music grew serious as well and their songs became more complex and experimental. They were changing music and society and we knew that something unique was happening. Frank and I were very impressed with these grown up songs; the beginnings of the psychedelic movement in the Rubber Soul and Revolver albums, and political lyrics in the song Taxman, the serious adult love songs like Norwegian Wood , the whimsical Yellow Submarine were influential on us as we entered Junior high school in 1966 and were joining real bands with real instruments; Frank singing and me drumming. Of course we were in different cities but our lives and our music paralleled each other. Then the Seargent Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album came out and I first heard it on Frank’s record player. We were mesmerized and very touched by this flight of fantasy and musical masterpiece, a concept album with orchestras and electronic instruments that had more to do with pure musical composition than with just simple teenage rock and roll. We dissected that record - the lyrics, the melodies, the drum parts, the guitar parts, playing it over and over and trying to figure out what they were thinking and doing. Our musical heroes had matured and so had we.

I didn’t see as much of Frank after high school; I had become a road musician and his knowledge as a music connoisseur led him into being a professional DJ in and around Memphis. We grew apart as life led us in different directions but we stayed in touch over the years and of course when we saw each other of course we talked about music and bored everyone around us. He and Virginia and Richard came to see me when I lived in Nashville, and once when I was performing in Memphis he and Virginia and my Aunt Jean came to see me play with a recording artist and I was so proud that they enjoyed what I did. I am so very glad that my sister Priscilla and Frank’s sister Anne grew very close and have been very close and very best friends ever since. They have been a great source of comfort to each other.

Frank was not just a hobbyist or a collector. That was just the surface. He was a deep lover and a deep connoisseur of popular music. It was an obsession and he could not get it out of his mind. He did not have the talent for playing an instrument so he used his love of music to share music with others and to influence other people, like me. In music he was successful, not in a commercial sense but in an artistic sense. He figured out a way to share his love of this music with everyone he came into contact with. He was a true amateur, which means someone who does something for the sheer love of it.

We have stayed in touch via email. Frank must have known very early on that he had been dealt the same hand as his father in the life span department. Five years ago Frank sent me an email in which he said “I've got you on my list of pallbearers, dude; went ahead and sort of wrote out last wishes and recorded a CD of Beatles music (primarily ballads) for background music at visitation. May sound morbid, but Daddy died at 49- I'll be 50 in Feb. and you'll be 51 on 2/17/05! I'm hoping to at least make it to 60, but with diabetes, cardivascular and one kidney combo, I'm being realistic. Of course medical breakthroughs happen every day, so if they can wipe out heart problems and diabetes I'll be ok. Well, I'll talk to you later.”

How do you deal with knowing you are going to die young? There is no handbook for it. Some may think that bearing that burden uncomplainingly is the noble way. I think there are very few who have that much strength. Frank chose to talk about it. He would go into detail and great length about his medical problems. He was not complaining. He was simply talking it out. That’s what was going on in his life and he needed to talk about it. I didn’t know how to handle it. It made me uncomfortable and angry. I did not like talking to Frank about his bad health and impending death. I now realize that it was how Frank stayed sane and how he stayed mentally healthy, and I think he successfully completed his life in this way. I only hope that I prepare for my death as well.

Billy Joel, the great American songwriter sang “only the good die young”. Frank was a good person. He endeared himself to a lot of people and had many life long friends.
Frank’s friend Rick Pruett, the world class guitar player, emailed me the other day: – “Frank Maier passed yesterday, 6/8. James Kennedy (Jamie) sent me an E-mail and we spoke for about an hour tonight. He, like myself, had been in touch with Frank on and off for all of these years. Although we rarely saw them, Frank, his wife Virginia and stepson, Richard had been friends of ours'. Here is the link to his obit: http://www.legacy.com/CommercialAppeal/ ... =128210003 Frank had suffered from several maladies including Coronary Artery Disease for years. He had a coronary bypass operation earlier this year. Nevertheless, his spirit was resilient. He was a loving individual who lived for his family and friends. He loved the Beatles and of course was in several bands with me during our years at Hillcrest.”

There is another famous song that goes “If there’s a rock and roll heaven then you know they’ve got a hell of a band!” If anyone got it right about “Rock and Roll Heaven”, then I bet Frank has missed this funeral, went looking for and found Beatles John Lennon and George Harrison within 24 hours of arriving and has resumed his Beatlemania without the pain.

(P.S. Notes after the memorial service) I was impressed with the way Frank planned his own memorial service and funeral. The slide show that his niece Jeannie put together with Frank’s pictures and music that he chose summed up his life beautifully. Even though his life was cut short by disease and bad health, he made sure that he made up for lost time and lived a complete life; He had a happy childhood, a successful music avocation, worked hard when he was healthy, loved and married a pretty woman, had a family with a child and a grandchild, was loved and respected by his many friends and family and was a good influence on other people. He did more living in his abbreviated life than most people do.

I don’t play guitar and piano or sing very well but I would really liked to have sung a song for Frank at the service. I really wanted to get up on that drum set at the church and play for Frank, specifically Ringo’s short drum solo at the end of the Beatles’ Abbey Road album, but I didn’t because my sister Priscilla asked me not to say anything embarrassing. I regret that I didn’t now because I know Frank would liked to have heard me do that, and he knew the trivia behind that drum solo - that it was the only drum solo ever recorded by Ringo and that Starr hated drum solos. Frank would probably even know the color of the drum set he played it on . If you want to listen to it, it’s near the end of side 2 just before the song “The End”.

As Ringo would yell just before the guitar solo on the songs he sang - “Rock on one time for me, Frank”!

George Lawrence
"How much for the women?" John Belushi in the Blues Brothers
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Re: Eulogy for a music fan

Postby Bogeyfire » Wed Jun 24, 2009 1:54 am

Beautiful eulogy George. Also, I have seen the strength in those failing and in those who die too young. I think you captured his passion and the way he touched others. Well done. Thank you for sharing.
Navy Hymn- O Trinity of love and power!
Our brethren shield in danger's hour;
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
Protect them wheresoe'er they go.
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Re: Eulogy for a music fan

Postby AlexInRI » Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:28 am

So sorry for your loss George. Life is a gift and too many of us take that for granted. I've delivered several eulogies and it did help me deal with the pain. Don't worry about the drum solo. I'm sure your cousin is with you whenever you take the stage.
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Re: Eulogy for a music fan

Postby TonyNYC » Wed Jun 24, 2009 5:45 am

Real sorry for your loss George...pretty perfect eulogy and tribute. Bet it made you both proud...with or without the drum solo.
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Re: Eulogy for a music fan

Postby randall » Wed Jun 24, 2009 6:13 am

George,
Thanks for posting such a beautiful Eulogy. Life is sometimes way to short, but the memories are what keep our hearts and souls strong.
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Re: Eulogy for a music fan

Postby sunsetkidd » Wed Jun 24, 2009 6:23 am

I'm sorry for your loss, George; thank you for sharing that. Your cousin was a lucky man in many ways, chief among them having you for a cousin.
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Re: Eulogy for a music fan

Postby Jimohara » Wed Jun 24, 2009 7:30 am

Sorry for your loss George. That was a very touching eulogy!
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Re: Eulogy for a music fan

Postby wheland » Wed Jun 24, 2009 8:07 am

George,

Sorry for your loss. I really liked your eulogy, though.

You concentrated on the good times and the positive aspects of your cousin and his outlook on life- in general and his.

Keep concentrating on the good times you had with your cousin- it's always the right thing to do.

Dennis
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Re: Eulogy for a music fan

Postby panama1955nh » Wed Jun 24, 2009 8:18 am

Hi George;
Thanks for sharing this touching tribute to your cousin. He will be missed

panama
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Re: Eulogy for a music fan

Postby duffyb » Wed Jun 24, 2009 8:21 am

Very nice eulogy, George.
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