G: Bring the Kids - PG: Approach With Caution - PG-13: In-Laws, Coworkers Keep Out - R: Wife, In-Laws, Coworkers Definitely Keep Out - X: Probably Something Involving Robert Logan
Rick Gagnon was pretty much my favorite person on the planet. We met mid-80's at the Buena Park Record Show, when I booked a table after getting into financial hot water and decided to sell off most of my insanely large record collection. Rick was at the table next to me selling a lot of Beatles stuff, and communicating with his lifelong best friend Dave Gnerre on a headset whenever one of them was off checking out other vendors. They also used the headsets to say the snarkiest shit about people behind their backs, which is why I immediately liked him.
I went back for a 2nd round a few months later and Rick was next to me again. This time he said we should hang out, and of course I agreed. Rick owned a bike shop in Fontana (Rick's Bicycle City) for over 20 years, and was everything from a published rock photographer, to a band manager, to the fan club president for The Iron Butterfly. We had the exact same tastes in 60's rock music, Japanese everything, and anything 70's adult cinema related. He probably knew more rock trivia than I did, which I don't admit about anybody. He was a freakin' music encyclopedia.
Things started to change a bit by the late-90's when he decided to retire early and cash out. He didn't really plan for it, and after working 6 days a week his whole life and always having something to focus on, he got bored and caved into his vices. I'll end that part of the story here and say I miss the hell out of him and wish he was still with us. He was the coolest, most generous guy I knew, and had a great way at looking at everything. Here are a few things I remember about Rick...
Before I knew him, Rick went through a long speed-freak phase. During this time, he helped book Wally George (the late right-winged TV nutjob, though it was mostly a put-on) into a college in Redlands. Wally asked if they had provided security, they hadn't, so the co-promoter lied and said, "He's (Rick) your security." Rick wasn't more than 5'10, 135 pounds when I knew him, so he couldn't have been over 125 back then. Wally said aghast, "You're my security?" Rick, speeding out of his head and looking like hell after not sleeping for days, improvised and said, "That's right Wally. I'm an expert in the Art of Karate." Wally said, "I don't mean to be rude, but you don't look all that tough to me", to which Rick replied confidently, "That's the beauty of Karate, Wally."
Rick was at a function in Redlands with PBS's late, great Huell Howser (Rick could do the best Huell impersonation, btw... "Louie! These are the best muffins I've ever tasted!") They were chatting about something they had in common, and Rick said, "You know Huell, we're crazy!" and Huell in his Huell voice replied, "Well... I know one of us is!"
Though he never played a live show, Rick released two 45's in the early 80's under the name Rikki Rush. Not much happened with either, but a gentleman named Christer in Sweden thought the song "Donna" was the best Southern California pop song ever. Christer released it on a comp in 2001 called 'Home Runs' with similarly obscure artists. Rick used to bring it up whenever we disagreed about anything, "Don't fuck with me man, I'm considered a God in Sweden."
RIP Rick Gagnon...Randy Carr »