Jan 28th 2012
This is what I wrote to be read at Ricky’s Memorial today…
I sat in my office and forgot about geology for a while when I seen Ricky had left us on facebook. I cried off and on all morning hiding in this little room knowing nobody at the mine could truly understand what the people in the DTES mean to me, I couldn’t talk about it. Mostly I cried for Ricky but I cried for a lot of brothers and sisters we’ve lost, and somewhat selfishly cried for myself and the parts of me I lost down there and will never get back. So many Woodsquatters have left us whether it be Taum Danberger, the first I knew to die in the DTES…or squatters who left us very young like Punk Rock Tom and his sidekick Kasper. I have outlived so many of my friends in the DTES and having been an activist, Co-op Radio programmer and PHS worker for 10 years there were times that these deaths happened intimately before my eyes…and I’ll never get over it, it will always hurt, I know this now. Losing Ricky opens up a lot of those wounds in me. In Vancouver I became an emotional shell of my former self, I was burnt out and left Vancouver, probably for ever. I’ve seen enough death so now my wife and I are creating life. As we lose some comrades more are born in their place, it is our responsibility to continue on.
I came to know Ricky as a squatter on the street in front of Woodwards, for as timid as he could be there was a lot of fight in him, he never stopped believing we could end colonization. He was one of those people who are often overlooked within a movement (or anywhere really), but they are the ones I feel most strongly about in my heart. Ricky never judged me or cared what my politics were, we were on the same side and that’s all that mattered. He didn’t care if people were trash talking me, we were friends and he always showed me respect. I really loved Ricky, nobody ever has or ever will be quite like him.
Over the years I would sometimes get Ricky to open up a concert I was putting on. He would be very excited about it, excited enough to call me everyday for two weeks before the show to make sure it was still on and he could still play. There may have been moments I regretted giving him my number, but they quickly passed. I don’t think Ricky had enough chances to play real shows like that, I don’t mean to say he didn’t perform for others lots, but he was rarely promoted in any larger way to the general public. He was an unknown star plucking away in the Carnegie, at protests or at Anza Club bluegrass jams. To Ricky playing a show with Joey Only and Andy Mason was the big time, I don’t think he would have differenciated between playing at BC Place or Cafe Duex Soliels, they were all huge shows to him…he would have arisen to any occasion on any stage. We should have produced an album of his songs, I’d hate to think that voice is lost, hindsight is 20/20.
He would waddle up to the stage, shaking his head left to right nervously while the audience thought to themselves ‘this should be interesting…’ But they never thought that for very long because when big Rick strummed that guitar in open G and sang ‘I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow’ peoples jaws would drop. Sometimes I played guitar or bass behind him and it was never hard because every song was in the key of G, yet the audience never seemed to notice. If his voice wasn’t a thing of beauty enough for them his sense of humour and stage presence would startle them. I’ll never forget when he said at the end of the show ‘I can’t play any longer, I have to catch a flight to Nashville, I’m gonna be on the Grand Ole Opry tomorrow with Dolly Parton.’
I hope he’s at that Big Opry in the sky right now, I’m sure the creator has kept a special place for his spirit to take refuge. Ricky’s pain is over, now us still living must go forward and let him go rest. It is my advice to you in the future that you take nothing and nobody for granted because it all can end so quickly. Unfortunately I can’t travel the 900km to be there today with you…Debbie Krull wanted me to join you on skype and sing a song for Ricky, that also proved to be difficult for me to do in Barkerville. But you can hear the song I would have played if you google CBC RADIO 3 and JOEY ONLY…the song is called ONE LAST SONG and it’s a warning to all of you that you ought to tell your friends you love them whenever you can because you never know when the last time you’ll see them will be. I always sing that song last at my shows and raise a toast to our fallen comrades. There are many of you there today I would like to say to you in case we never meet again, that even if we didn’t see eye to eye all time, I have a lot of love and respect for you, especially those who stayed in the DTES and kept fighting when I could no longer do so. You are heroes to me.
Love and rage, from Wells/Barkerville BC,