There are moments in your life where something happens that changes all the rest of your life, right? Some time, I think in the late 70s, I should have been working in my little 415 Records office but Lester Bangs was in San Francisco for a visit and wanted me to show him around. As we walked around the city he kept drinking and got progressively more and more drunk. Eventually we wound up in North Beach and he could barely stand. So he leaned on my shoulder as we walked-- and he was a big guy. It was mid-afternoon and I noticed that the side door of the punk rock venue, the Mabuhay Gardens, was open. I walked down the alley and put Lester in a chair and let him fall asleep. Nes Aquino was "auditioning" a new band from the Art Institute, Romeo Void. They were great... amazing; I "signed" them on the spot.
They-- their success-- gave my own music business career an actual foundation and changed my life in every conceivable way. I owe it all to Romeo Void-- to Debora Iyall, Frank Zincavage, Peter Woods, Larry Carter and, soon after, Benjamin Bossi. That's Larry in the wife-beater undershirt in the concert footage for the classic "Never Say Never" video (above)-- and as the mobster in the fedora who gets shot in the story line. He's been living in Bellingham, Washington.
A couple of weeks ago, Larry, Romeo Void's dummer suddenly passed away. Debora messaged me today that "He was evidently found at his front door with his car keys in his hands. He’s had heart issues since we met and of course worsening throughout the years." She was told by one of his old friends that he was at odds with his Trump supporting father, and their last conversation didn’t go well. I hadn't spoken with him in years but Larry's drumbeat was pivotal to the success of Romeo Void’s biggest hit, "Nvr Say Nvr." He co-wrote the song and all the music for the Benefactor album. "Nvr Say Nvr" was used most recently in The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, The Wolf of Wall Street, Rage and the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Larry drummed in the band from 1981 'til 1984, the year before they dissolved.
Debora is back at school in the Coachella Valley, and she told me that she's teaching art to 200 students a day in classes of 40. "The students are amazing, glad to be back, but after 5 days of school I already have 2 out for Covid related reasons. They’re either sick or in quarantine due to contract tracing." Benjamin is back in the Bay Area. Frank is living in New Mexico and Peter owns an English language school and lives in Japan.