Somewhere around 1985 I decided it was time to perform live again. My band Wax Theatricks dissolved a few years earlier. I was lucky enough to get The Heaters to back me up. The first show was produced by Chuck Auger at the Soulard Preservation Hall.
The hall was packed that night and my nerves were shot from stage fright. There were a lot of people there who were curious as to just how I would pull it off.
As I stood at the side of the stage, waiting to go on, Sue Leonard walked up and put her arms around me. She felt my fear. She looked into my eyes thoughtfully and said, “You know everyone here loves you.” I looked at the audience and realized I knew just about everybody.
I realized I was with family and my fears dissolved. I opened with What To Do, the first song from our last Lp. The song is basically a riff with lyrics to the effect of -Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you, I won’t let anyone hurt you, I love you.
It was a dream gig. Sue stood in the front row for the whole show. I never do cover songs, but I dedicated the Kinks “You Really Got Me” to Sue as an encore.
Sue was Mark Gray’s girlfriend. Mark was the band’s sound man and she went everywhere with us. She slept in cars, went days without sleep, ate crap, and always took care of us. We’d be in some small college town were the audience didn’t know us and we were sure we’d bomb. Sue would lure guys onto the dance floor and soon the place would be jumping. No one could resist her beauty or charm. She was even in the recording studio with us.
When the band split Sue went to
When they came to the states Sue came first. They weren’t married yet and for some reason Peter didn’t come when he was supposed to. She was sure he wasn’t coming. During this time Sue and I had a brief romance. Peter showed up and it ended immediately. I ended up really liking him.
Last Thursday Fojammi called to tell me Sue had been entered into a nursing facility in
I was horrified. “I’m not dead,” she said. “I’m gonna pull through this.” I asked if a transplant was possible. She didn’t want to talk about it. I really felt like a jerk when I realized her positive talk was for my benefit. It was as if I was feeling sorry for myself about her illness.
She had just lost her dad and second husband in the last year and said she really had no wish to keep going. “Keep trying!” I said. She said what she knew I wanted to hear.
Dominic walked in and was much better at putting a happy face on things than I was. She got Dom to promise he’d bring peaches from a tree in her back yard. Then she recited a beautiful little poem she'd written about her father that had something to do with her peach tree.
Our friend Kay is turning 50 and Sue’s spirits lifted when we said we’d take her to the party in her wheel chair. “That’s something to work toward!” she said. We left it at that.
I was mixing acoustic guitar tracks in the studio yesterday when Fojammi walked in. “I have bad news," he said, "Sue died an hour ago.”
A few years ago the band all went on a trip to the
When Fojammi broke the news to me he said Sue was the first band member to go.
I still feel like crying.
This is the only pic I have of Sue. It’s from a small picture on the back cover of the Jambox EP. The band Jambox was my brother Patrick, Tony Patti, Fojammi, Geo Ramsey, Sue, Tammy Stone and Annie Byrne.