Posts Tagged ‘Tom Staley’

That’s neat, that’s nice (Tommy Ardolino, 1955-2012)

January 7, 2012

The face of a cherub, the beat of a rock’n’roll giant.

Note: I corrected Tommy’s birth year/age from the original post. When I learned of his death last night, I hit Google looking for news. What I got were several news sites that had some future “today’s birthdays” stockpiled into next week, and every one of them said Tommy would be turning 55 on Thursday. However, Hartford Courant music writers present (Eric Danton) and past (Roger Catlin) listed Tommy’s would’ve-been age as 57 on their blogs, and now there’s a photo of him with “Tom Ardolino: 1955-2012” on the nrbq.com home page.

I have this weird psychic bond/sixth sense about death sometimes — not nearly the great disturbance in the Force that Obi-Wan felt when Alderaan was death-starred, but a sense, nonetheless. I just know it.

I first noticed it that March morning in 1975 when I woke up with a start at 8 a.m. for no apparent reason — two seconds before the phone rang to tell us my grandmother had died.

It also happened three times in the course of a week in February 2006 when my childhood friend Rick was dying of lung cancer. (Ran triathlons, never smoked,was an architect to the stars, had a great family. Life is not fair.) We had drifted apart quite a while back — last time I saw him was at our 20th high school reunion in 1999 — but he came in loud and strong three distinct times in the week leading into his death, the last time the day before.

Sometimes I just know without anyone telling me.

Well, I was hardly an acquaintance with Tommy Ardolino, NRBQ’s longtime drummer; we met a couple times after shows and I interviewed him once, as I did all the other band members, during my time at the New Haven Register. I knew he had been in poor health for a while, and the news came out that he went into the hospital the week before Christmas for what was to be a long stay.

It wasn’t so long.

I was just getting ready to jump in the shower late yesterday afternoon when a random thought hit me out of nowhere, and kind of in the form of a news flash: “NRBQ drummer Tommy Ardolino died today.” I just shrugged it off as an overactive imagination at work.

Last night, sitting at the coffee shop, a musician friend posted the news. He got it from one of the guys in the current NRBQ.

Sure enough, there was indeed a disturbance in my Force. Tommy, one of the best rock’n’roll drummers to ever sit at a kit, an eternal cherub-boy who never quite grew up, and who got to live a fan’s wildest dream for three decades, was gone. He would have been 57 on Thursday (Jan. 12).

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