Pat Blythe – Dear Frank

Preface …..

The loss of Frank Gutch Jr. has affected so many people both in and out of the music industry. For many, it’s a deeply personal loss.

Frank was a prolific writer and reviewer and there weren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish whatever he wanted to do. There was always a new artist, brand new music or a new release from someone he was following. His dedication was and is unbeatable. His love for the music and for those who created it yet went unnoticed who, in his estimation, should be world famous by now and “why weren’t they?”  There was absolutely no one like him. Irreplaceable, unique, exceptional, matchless…..Frank would blush, lower his head and say he was just doing what he loved and believed in. (I can hear his “aw shucks”) and then change the subject. He had an intense and genuine curiosity about other people’s lives and not only loved hearing about them but in many respects took great joy in living vicariously through all of us.

I had lost my husband Chris just over a year prior to first “meeting” Frank. Frank rapidly became someone I was comfortable sharing my life with. He was an expert interviewer and was especially fascinated with Chris’s 20 years of photography in the music business during the 70’s and 80’s. Frank encouraged me when he knew I was struggling, understood what it meant to carry on Chris’s work and how difficult and challenging it could be. He was someone I could turn to when I really needed to do some ear-bending….about Chris, about photography or just simply to share the events of a wonderful evening out listening to great music. He was the perfect sounding board. Frank wasn’t a replacement for Chris, but he was damn close.

It wasn’t all one-sided. It wasn’t always about me. I would sometimes sit for hours listening to him regale all the wonderful stories and experiences of his life. We shared our histories, our struggles, our families, so much in those three years. He called me just as often as I called him. His unexpected loss has cut me to the bone.

To Colleen, Frank’s sister….to Joel, Frank’s brother-in-law….I am profoundly sorry for your loss. Family was so important to Frank. My heart goes out to both of you.

Dear Frank….

I’m not sure what to say. The tears just won’t stop and my heart hurts so much. I am remembering all our conversations…phone….face time….Skype or FB. We would talk for hours about so many things but music and photography were our first loves. I remember how excited I was when I found out your birthday was the day after mine. I hoped some day we could celebrate together.

I loved listening to your stories about Cheeto (sic) and your photography escapades together. The first time you saw Tom Waits. Meeting the ladies from Heart. Life at Peaches. Your sighs when I wore my Queen t-shirt during a video call (I know, I know, not your favourite band, at least not after the first album), our mutual love for Captain Beyond, Spirit and the last band we discussed….Gypsy.  I fell in love with the Research Turtles whose music will forever remind me of you. Column topics… always wanting to know what I was going to write about. Your eagerness to hear about all the good music and bands I’d heard lately. You fell in love with Julian Taylor, Sam Taylor, Vinyl Ambush and of course “the boys” as we all call them…. Xprime/James Blonde….. and so many others. I remember Skyping  with you when “the boys” were staying with me while they were recording their last album. That was a hoot!

What Can I Say – Research Turtles

(my two favourites….A Feeling and Tomorrow) by this band are blocked in YouTube

Sufficiently Breathless – Captain Beyond

Constantly curious, expanding your horizons and listening to as much music as humanly possible….always.

But it was more than a passion for you, you were the music. It oozed out of every pore of your body, it was the fibre of your very being. If you were a note, you’d be an F natural. Fair, frank (ha!), frugal, fun, forgiving, fanatical (about music), faithful, fascinating, but most of all a Friend.

Just one month after I began writing for DBAWIS you commented on a piece I had written. I responded and we never stopped communicating after that. You didn’t like to focus on yourself. You loved to hear about what I was doing, thinking, planning, listening to…. With every question I asked you about you, you always managed to turn it around to me. Over time I gradually learned about your life, your loves, your losses, your family, your favourite pie, how much you missed your “momma”, your admiration and respect for your dad, the love and pride you felt for your sister…..your photography, drumming and of course life in the record stores, especially Licorice Pizza and Peaches.

Your knowledge of music, the business, but particularly the people was endless. Your enthusiasm was boundless. Like the trunk of an enormous family tree of music you knew all the branches, twigs, buds and leaves. You followed the roots and all their connections. The music of the Pacific Northwest was your garden and you were constantly nurturing and fertilizing it, trying to get everyone to smell the flowers.

Take That Love – James Blonde

Your aversion to “hits” and love for local artists took hold and never diminished. Your relentless pursuit for “the good stuff”, because “there was so much out there”, was endless, always searching for the next great song. Your leaving has left an enormous chasm for all of us. Your incredible generosity and humanity touched so many lives.

Frequently self-deprecating, never understanding (or comfortable hearing) how much you meant to the music community and to those who loved you. You hid behind that rather sardonic wit and wry sense of humour believing your life was boring. It wasn’t. Far from it.  Every once-in-a-while I would get an ever so brief glimpse of the sadness and loneliness you sometimes felt and a wistfulness for the past, but it would be gone in a flash. You were thoughtful, patient, kind, didn’t suffer fools gladly and our chats would often be peppered with a few “fucks” (from both of us) here and there…..okay sometimes a lot.

You loved napping…..frequently. You had that in common with Bob….Bobert as you called him. There was huge love, admiration and mutual respect there. Both of you with your legions of stories and experiences….such a strong and deep connection.

You loved your DBAWIS “family” and was everyone’s cheerleader, sharing our columns and commenting, often with a wink and a nudge. Every Tuesday, there were those three words…. FRANKITY, FRANK, FRANK  and the following three to five thousand words (sometimes WAY more) of your column followed by Notes…..ahhhh, those Notes…..with so much music! This from a man who kept telling me he didn’t know what he was going to write from week to the next.

From your DBAWIS review of  Stealing Jane, (Nov, 5, 2013) this analogy really hit home, “As ironic as it sounds, it really isn’t. Love, as dominant as it is in our lives, is the aluminum foil to life’s steel and as much as we want to disregard that, we do so at our own expense and many times, the price is steep.” I highly recommend reading this…..hell all 364 of Frank’s columns should be recommended reading…..and listening.

Take It Easy – Stealing Jane

Your bonding with Vickers over vinyl was a real joy for you and you never stopped talking about it. You so looked forward to meeting him and together raiding as many record stores as possible during your trip to L.A. last year.

When things got to be too much or you needed “some air”, you would go for long drives, sometimes for hours. That was how you cleared your head.

I’d come home from the clubs late at night knowing you’d always be waiting for a “full report”….who I met, what music I heard, how many frames I took this time. You loved the energy and hearing about all the different bands, immediately looking them up on line as we talked. Our last conversation was almost four hours in length. We discussed your column on Gypsy which then led to the music of Tranquility, Spirit, vinyl collections, your backlog of reviews, Vermin’s book, Bob’s book, how my writing had changed over the years, the pics I had sent you, what was happening with “the Chris” project, and, maybe, just maybe, you’d visit this summer. If not, we’d meet in Vancouver and drive down the coast to Tangent. Damn!!!!!

Gypsy – Full Ablum

Linda – Tranquility (from the album Silver)

It’s impossible to pack three years of weekly video calls, three years of FB messages (yes, I kept them all) and phone calls into one document. You continued to be my driving companion, keeping me company during many trips back-and-forth to London.

Always willing to listen, celebrate the highs and comfort during the lows. You loved Chris’s work and pushed me to “do something” about it. “People need to see what he did. You need to tell his stories.”  I promise I’ll get that book done. You were my adviser, my counsel, my biggest supporter…..you were my “person”. You poked and prodded, teased and cajoled and I loved it when I got that belly laugh. You were my biggest fan and biggest critic, much like Chris. You commented numerous times how you wished you had known Chris. Well…..say hello to him for me. You two have a lot to talk about.

I cannot believe I’m referring to you in the past tense. It just doesn’t seem possible. I am totally gutted, completely shattered. There are so many things happening I want to share with you. I’m going to miss you so very much my friend. The hole in my heart just got a whole lot bigger. Love you large!

Frank Gutch Jr.

Thank you just doesn’t do it but, thank you….

Pat

xxxxxx

P.S.

……and I’m going to include this song, maybe one you never knew, by my favourite band (you can stop laughing). This is for those who have left us and from those who have left us.

Teo Toriatte – Queen

=PB=

Pat’s column appears every Wednesday.

Contact us at: dbawis@rogers.com

dbawis-button7“Music and photography….my heart, my passions.” After an extended absence —  33 years as a consultant and design specialist in the telecommunications industry — Pat has turned her focus back to the music scene. Immersing herself in the local club circuit, attending the many diverse music festivals, listening to some great music, photographing and writing once again, she is eager to spread the word about this great Music City of ours…..Toronto. Together for 34 years, Pat little-red-headed-dancing-girlalso worked alongside her late husband Christopher Blythe, The PictureTaker©, who, beginning in the early 70s, photographed much of the local talent (think Goddo, Frank Soda and the Imps, BB Gabor, the first Police Picnic, Buzzsaw, Hellfield, Shooter, The Segarini Band….) as well as national and international acts. Pat is currently making her way through 40 years of Chris’s archives, 20 of which are a photographic history of the local GTA music scene beginning in 1974. It continues to be a work in progress. Oh…..and she LOVES to dance! 

4 Responses to “Pat Blythe – Dear Frank”

  1. Marlene Schuler Says:

    Beautiful heartfelt tribute Pat! My thoughts are with you.

  2. Peter Montreuil Says:

    Well said, Pat!

  3. A beautiful tribute Pat. Condolences.

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