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Monday, September 24, 2007

Gary Primich Gone

What just happened? Gary Primich wasn't even 50 years old; he was a top-shelf harmonica player. The news is skimpy thus far - an announcement on Gary's website that he died yesterday. Here is the text of the statement.

Gary Primich, considered by many to be one of the
greatest harmonica players in the world, passed away
suddenly on September 23rd. Not only is this the loss
of a world-class talent, but also of a true
world-class person. Offstage, Gary was a caring and
gentle soul — a real Regular Joe of the best kind.
Onstage he played with a ferocity and indescribable
sound that was often mind-blowing. He’d say Thank You
to his fans then quickly change the subject because he
didn’t want it to be all about him. He loved animals,
he loved people, he loved music and he loved life.
Gary’s career sent him around the world, traveling
thousands and thousands of miles for his love of
music, but he’ll always be right here, in our hearts.

Details regarding a memorial service for Gary will be
posted as soon as more information is available.

Gary was a Chicago guy, a baby boomer born in 1958, weaned on Muddy and Walter and Sonny Boy and Wolf. He played in the 1970's with Johnny Littlejohn, Big Walter Horton and Sunnyland Slim. He left Chicago in the early 1980's to settle in Austin, Texas. From that base, he traveled the world playing 200-300 gigs a year. His harmonica work was stellar; he was a sincere and convincing vocalist, too.

I didn't know Gary personally - we were "one degree of separation" people; that connective layer was Joe Filisko, who made custom harmonicas for Gary and introduced him to many of the Old Town School of Folk Music harmonica students. Gary had a very positive rep, no one had a bad thing to say about the guy. I don't know many people that can hit that standard. I certainly can't.

I have been writing about the passing of blues and jazz people regularly. My first entry on this blog was about the death of an elderly amateur harmonica player. I guess I am focused on mortality due to my own advancing age. Maybe I am just a morbid old coot.

Gary Primich's passing is one of the saddest events ever for the harmonica community; right up there with the death of Paul deLay. God, this guy will be missed.

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