Martin Fierro Passes Away

Martin Fierro
Martin Fierro: January 18, 1942 - March 13, 2008

Martin Fierro, famed saxaphonist for Legion of Mary and Zero died Thursday in Marin County, CA after a short battle with cancer.

A Native American of the Apache and Tarahumara tribes, "The Meester", as many affectionately referred to him, has always been guided by the Great Spirit to bring his unique musical gift into peoples' lives. Born in Mexico on January 18, 1942, Fierro's family moved to El Paso, Texas in 1952. He taught himself to play the saxophone in order to join the high school band. However, marching on a football field was not what the Great Spirit had in mind. Before he could blow a note of "Stars and Stripes Forever" he was drafted by a rock and roll band playing in a local club six nights a week. Fifteen year-old Fierro developed his chops backing up musicians such as Chuck Berry.

In 1964 Fierro embraced jazz, performing in Mexico City with the Maxnava Jazz Four for audiences that included Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonius Monk. At the invitation of those musicians he planned to move to New York City to continue a career in jazz. However, in 1968, destiny guided him to the San Francisco Bay Area where he continued to play both jazz and rock, mesmerizing live audiences and embarking on a recording career with a variety of bands and musicians.

Fierro joined the band Mother Earth, recording with Michael Bloomfield, Mark Naftalin and Tracy Nelson. He also formed a lifelong musical alliance with Jerry Garcia, appearing on The Grateful Dead's Wake of the Flood album and joining Garcia in The Legion of Mary. Among other groups and artists, The Meester has recorded with James Cotton, The Quicksilver Messenger Service, The Shades of Joy and Merle Saunders, and performed with Steve Miller, Boz Scaggs and Queen Ida. In 1970 Fierro composed the musical score for the cult film classic, El Topo.

Martin Fierro was a founding member of the jam band Zero and has also performed in recent years with The String Cheese Incident, Yonder Mountain String Band, Dark Star Orchestra and New Monsoon.

Listen to Martin play a beautiful Cole's Law with Zero from 9/1/95 in Chicago, IL

[Published on: 3/13/08]

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Andy Thu 3/13/2008 04:37PM
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RIP meester, we love you. Chut Up!

vicfirth Thu 3/13/2008 04:49PM
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Take care brother. Thanks for everything. I am going to have a few cold ones and allow you music to fill my soul this evening. Love you

RandyCrouchMusic starstarstarstarstar Thu 3/13/2008 04:59PM
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RIP bro

Sueshi Thu 3/13/2008 05:03PM
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RIP Martin.

I will miss seeing your smiling face and am privileged to have called you friend.

TimCorcoran Thu 3/13/2008 05:04PM
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((((Martin Fierro))))

geomakla starstarstarstarstar Thu 3/13/2008 05:07PM
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God speed Martin!!!!

if ever anyone had a smile, that was both pure and infectious, it was this man! I have no way to thank you today.... it will take so much longer...

all my love, Meester.

moephishH2O Thu 3/13/2008 05:09PM
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This is a sad day. He had such a stage presence and was ALWAYS laughing and having a good time with the crowd. Thanks for so many great memories, Martin.

funkme starstarstarstar Thu 3/13/2008 05:13PM
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I saw him play for 20 years. RIP Martin. Thanks for all the great music.

willydog Thu 3/13/2008 05:20PM
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jalew Thu 3/13/2008 05:37PM
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R.I.P. The Humble Giant

Martin was an inspirational being. I will remember Martin for his beautiful music, huge laugh, humorous musings on life and his incredible presence.

Thank you brother Martin!

soundchaser Thu 3/13/2008 05:50PM
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Another great sax player joins the all-star band in the next world. Like others have said, his presence always brought additional smiles wherever he blew.

??Learn to work the saxophone...I play just what I feel.??

Peace Martin.

AUSTINITSUA Thu 3/13/2008 05:51PM
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I've only heard his name in passing a little, but having listened to some LOM and Zero and a whole lot of Chuck Berry, so I've probably unknowingly heard his work. Whenever a musician passes I try to give them a listen and learn a little more about their body of work. Fierro will be no exception. Tonight I'm throwing some Zero on the stereo to go back and figure out who this guy was. RIP.

QuantumTuba Thu 3/13/2008 05:56PM
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This man was a brilliant saxophonist. RIP

passionpresents Thu 3/13/2008 06:50PM
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May you live on forever in every sweet note of music that rises up into the heavens....

pscotton Thu 3/13/2008 07:32PM
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A fine musician with a kind soul and a gentle heart has passed. We miss you already Martin.

musicalearth Thu 3/13/2008 07:48PM
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at least i got to see you and enjoy your music at numerous shows.

peace to you and all you've touched with your awesome music.

blow on

ROCvibes Thu 3/13/2008 07:49PM
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feel privileged to have been able to see him play past couple of summers with zero and also sit in w/ yonder...sounds like he lived a very fulfilling career cut short, thank you and rest in peace

cindycort Thu 3/13/2008 08:23PM
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Marteen, my sweetie, your soul is free, you are the spirit, you are the light, I love you so much. My love to all of your family. You will always be with me. Give a hug to Big Dan for me. LOVE CINDY CORT

bighippiemarc Thu 3/13/2008 08:51PM
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Saw Martin on his birthday with Zero / Ventura Theater 1997/8? Awsome. Unforgetable sax, unforgetable show. Thanks Martin....see you again someday...

shibuya510 star Thu 3/13/2008 09:01PM
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A dark day indeed.... Strange, but just a few hours ago I was BLASTING String Cheese 12-08-03 where Martin sat in for much of the second set, leading the cheese into an improv My Favorite Things > Elanor Rigby > All Blues out of Riders on the Storm, an amazing, off the cuff move, showing Martin's unspoken communication skills and uncanny leadership abilities..

"My brain is just a jellyfish, in the ocean of Martin's head- cuz we drank too much tequila, and woke up seeing red, Now all we really want from life- is to crawl back into bed, cuz our brains are a bunch of jellyfish, in the oceans of our heads!"

-Bill Nershi

RIP Master Martin!

shackca Thu 3/13/2008 09:49PM
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ohhhhhhb man Meeeeeeester was such a warm human being, I am so bummed, this is like getting kicked in the stomach. Many Many great memories seeing Mar-teeen playing with Zero, Jerry Garcia on and on - must have seen him play least 150 times. so sad warm memories. Thanks Marteeeeeen

SaltyDog starstarstarstarstar Thu 3/13/2008 09:52PM
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so bummed at this news.... will miss him.... no you chut up

playitleo Thu 3/13/2008 10:14PM
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I am so thankful he showed up to every other SCI west coast show in the recent years. I will always remember him with ZERO though. Thanks for the music Martin!

loveitlive Thu 3/13/2008 10:32PM
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I got to see Martin the first time at the SCI show on 12/03, and then again when Zero came back to the Fillmore. I have both shows in my collection so he will live forever through the wonder of live downloads.

Peace be with you Martin, all the best to your family......

Dgold starstarstar Thu 3/13/2008 10:36PM
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MISS YOU MARTIN! Here's an mp3 of Martin telling some of his great stories on my radio show

adventuresinperception Thu 3/13/2008 10:39PM
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damn this is horrible news. my all time favorite Eyes of the World is from sept 24, 1973 and features martin blowin on sax. LOVE YOU MAN!!

Falcor Thu 3/13/2008 10:49PM
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My heart is so sad right now for Martin's family and loved ones. I will forever be grateful for the times that I have been able to spend with Martin over the last few years. He was one of a kind and his music will live on forever. RIP.

Bear Fri 3/14/2008 12:12AM
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Oh no - didn't expect this so soon! So sad to hear this news. I will miss your kind, positive presence, stories and music, but am honored to have known you. Give Jerry a hug for me, and you guys tear it up with the great Band in the Sky!

Ned8 starstarstarstarstar Fri 3/14/2008 02:29AM
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God Bless.... Martin.... So much love to you

thelostsailor Fri 3/14/2008 03:05AM
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The music world has lost an unparalleled treasure. No musician played with more emotion, feeling, and passion than Fierro. His work with Legion and Zero are inspiration to us all to aspire to great things. For me, one of the best of a handful of sax or flute players ever (Coltrane, Parker (x2), Denson, Fierro). Do yourself a favor and pay true homage by listening to the feel-good anthem of all-time, Cole's Law. I recommend my favorite version, at full volume, available here (DAE):

you gotta want gotta feel it...

thanks Martin.

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Fri 3/14/2008 04:36AM
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‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

oh no. I never got to see him, due to living in the south east..

I wish I had seen at least one ZERO show, or legion of mary show. :((

miss you Martin!! rest in peace brother.

Souljive Fri 3/14/2008 04:57AM
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Thanks for sharing your talents... you are appreciated.

haardcoor Fri 3/14/2008 05:03AM
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RIP MARTIN!!! 25+ years and counting of listening to this amazing musician. His playing has influenced my musical tastes to expand! Anyone that was fortunate enough to see him play will also remember his carefree dispositon, along with his humorous antics. You will be missed. I will be going into my archives for a personal tribute this evening. I know you are laughing & jamming right now! PEACE NOW EVERYWHERE!!!

TelefunkenUSA Fri 3/14/2008 06:24AM
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An old cowpoke went ridin' out one dark and windy day

Upon a ridge he rested as he went along his way

When all at once a mighty herd of red eyed cows he saw

A plowin' through the ragged sky, and up a cloudy draw

Their brands were still on fire and their hooves were made of steel

Their horns were black and shiney and their hot breath he could feel

A bolt of fear ran through him as they thundered through the sky

He saw the riders comin' hard, and he heard their mournful cry



Ghost riders in the sky



Ghost riders in the sky

Their faces gaunt, their eyes are blurred, their shirts all soaked with sweat

They're ridin' hard to catch that herd, but they ain't caught 'em yet

They've got to ride forever on that range up in the sky

On horses snortin' fire... as they ride on, hear them cry

As the riders rode on by him, he heard one call his name

If you want to save your soul from hell a'ridin on this range

Then cowboy, change your ways today or with us you will ride

A'tryin' to catch the devil's herd across these endless skies



Ghost riders in the sky



Ghost riders in the sky



Ghost riders in the sky



Ghost riders in, the sky

NYLifer Fri 3/14/2008 07:08AM
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Play on brother. You made my day every time you played. IT'S TOO LATE! chut up.

BRabbit Fri 3/14/2008 07:12AM
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we need to fight cancer not war.

djtobiwan starstarstarstarstar Fri 3/14/2008 07:15AM
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"we're gonna take a chort break -- we're gonna go change our chorts"

Martin, we love you. You gave us so much. Last night, as SK and company traveled from High and Lonesome into Cole's law, I was hit by a wave of nostalgia, sadness and unbridled joy all at once.

...From banding with Meester on the Florida 97 tour, to Hawaii, to Chester's and back, it's been a beautiful ride. Thanks for convincing me to move to the West Coast with your musical persuasion.

Like Gandalf becoming the White Wizard, you are now a super-legend.

Rest in Peace brother.

Toby G

jackstraw1984 Fri 3/14/2008 07:20AM
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this is sad, he was fuckin great. may the four winds blow you safely home, meester.

philhitz Fri 3/14/2008 07:22AM
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jerry adds another player to his heavenly all-star band -- rip martin

blower starstarstarstarstar Fri 3/14/2008 09:12AM
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The music world lost a treasure. Thinking back to November and a late night Banyan show in San Francisco. I'm very glad I spent the effort driving across the city at 2:00am to see him play that night. Cancer is crazy shit. Just months ago he was wailing on the Sax. RIP my friend.

SilentMark Fri 3/14/2008 09:24AM
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Now 'chut up ...

Road To Shambala Fri 3/14/2008 09:31AM
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Road To Shambala

RIP Martin. The Heavenly Legion of Mary has some jamming to do tonight.

Thanks for the Jams!!!

jedd starstarstarstarstar Fri 3/14/2008 10:18AM
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Thanks for everything Martin. Had some great times with Zero. RIP.

Sizlunt Fri 3/14/2008 10:52AM
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Shibuya, I was at that Redwood City SCI show as well. Was one of the best that year.

sabaron starstarstarstar Fri 3/14/2008 11:12AM
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thanks for the music and the memories martin! may you be at peace

Lammie Fri 3/14/2008 11:14AM
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RIP Martin.

Backed Chuck Berry as a teenager...very cool!!!

lilbrian43 Fri 3/14/2008 12:18PM
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Marteen,you are gonna be missed more than we can imagine!!

Thanks for all the years of bliss you brought to my ears!!

Zero is over for good!:(

Kimock last night made me feel soooooooo good! The show was powerful and the energy was right!!

Love you all :)

Brian in SF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

kiera Fri 3/14/2008 01:02PM
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What an enormous loss. Martin was one of the greatest musicians there was playing that saxophone straight from the soul. Legion of Mary and Zero are two of my all time favorites. His onstage antics with all those bad jokes will never be forgotten. It was such a treat over the years to see him play with Zero and many up and coming musicians as well. I got to meet him and his wife Lisa a couple of years back at an Annie Lenox/ Sting concert. He was so gracious and kind. We spoke many more times at the Blackthorne Tavern and other shows after that. I am so thankful for knowing him. I was blown away by what a nice and genuine man he was. With all of that talent and history playing with so many greats, he was still so humble and happy to play in a tiny little bar with the young musicians as well. He was a very proud father and grandfather and spoke with such love of life, music and family. My heart goes out to his family and friends and especially little Jessica.

jimbeama starstarstar Fri 3/14/2008 01:07PM
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I just now read the news while on LMA. Shocked...

I too am so thankful to have seen Martin as a guest in many bands as well as with Zero. SCI 12-08-2003 is a classic

SCI Hornings Hide Out 2003

with new monsoon at the Independent 3-5-2005 playing Double clutch

Martin, here is to a true sax man...

-Jim "The Beam" Anderson

tommont Fri 3/14/2008 01:12PM
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Thanks for all the fantastic music over the years Meester. Now you are at the great jam in the sky. I saw Martin sit in w/ more bands than any artist I know not to mention all the great shows w/ Zero and SK&F at 4th St Tavern and listening to Legion of Mary etc. Long live the music, the love and the vibe of Martin Fierro!

akeay Fri 3/14/2008 02:58PM
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A true legend. He had recently recovered from (I believe) a body surfing accident and was back making great music. I was privileged to see him play with New Monsoon at Yoshi's last summer. There was a problem with his mic and you could barely hear him play in the audience while I guess his channel was loud with the on-stage monitors, so the band carried on. The crowd at Yoshi's shortly had this corrected with the sound man and Martin's mic was soon turned up for all of us to hear him play his horn. "Off you go and Godspeed,

that's the most that I will say.

These lessons are dandelion wishes

on a windy day."

Larrym1 starstarstarstarstar Fri 3/14/2008 03:08PM
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Thanks for being my cousin and one of the greatest guys I know. We're all going to miss your postive sprint and the love you showed everyone. Your always in our hearts. Rock on Brother - Love you Man. LM

hawkleberry Fri 3/14/2008 05:17PM
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Thank you Martin, I enjoyed your music. Peace

loyalfamily Fri 3/14/2008 06:06PM
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Much Love, your spirit is an inspiration to us all.

Joshua & Loyal Family

sorenheyer starstarstarstarstar Sat 3/15/2008 10:04AM
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Jokes, smiles and toys!!

I'll miss Martin all the rest of my days.

lordjess starstarstarstar Sat 3/15/2008 10:47AM
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Marteeeeen! You will be dearly missed. Your sax sounds reached and touched my soul. I am very grateful to have witnessed your greatness a few times,, with Zero and during the awesome Jerry tribute at the Gathering of the vibes in 2005. I closed my eyes and you brought me back to a very special time and place. Rest in Peace. JB

EugeneEvon starstarstarstarstar Sat 3/15/2008 11:58PM
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Thank you for everything.

For your music, your spirit, and your friendship.

For blowing my mind the first time I saw you with Zero in DC in '88. I went to see Cipollina, and came away digging you and Steve.

For being there with Zero to deliver the musical magic I missed when Jerry and the Dead weren't able to anymore.

For playing yenta with Naomi and I when we were on tour with you, Zero & David Nelson in Hawaii in '99.

For putting up with all the chit and keeping your humour when Naomi and I managed your Legion of Mary band. We'll release that album we recorded at the Plant yet!

For holding the pinata at Sofia's 1st birthday party last year.

For freaking out little Sofia with your crazy beard last year, and cutting it chorter so she was comfortable with you again when you came over for Christmas Eve last year.

For telling your friends I was a pretty good guitar player during one of my visits after we found out about the cancer. Chut up!

For being you.

Rest in Peace,


liquidlights Mon 3/17/2008 08:08AM
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Martine! I pay my respects because you always respected me...I miss you so much pants-ed wavey gravey on are my hero.... follow the music my friend... will see you again at the great dead concert in the sky

peace Liquid Steve

Laurel Mon 3/17/2008 08:42AM
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There is so much beautiful music in heaven.......

Laurel Mon 3/17/2008 08:46AM
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There is so much beautiful music in heaven now.....

ADORCHAK starstarstarstarstar Mon 3/17/2008 12:44PM
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Martin you are such a soulful man, so full of life, humor, and positive energies. I can not think of you without a smile and a warmth in my heart. I am glad to have called you friend.

Thanks for the memories:

You snarfing my dinner at Sweetwater's in 96 before I had even met you!

For the "Thai Food Challenge" in Cincy in 97

For the heart-to-heart lifetalk in Gainesville during the Alachua County Music Harvest

For those heady breaks behind Fourth Street Tavern ....

And so many other moments :)

God's Speed my Brother.

PCPrabbit Wed 3/19/2008 08:46AM
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love the steely dan quote bisaxual. the dan rules!

SpunWagon starstarstarstarstar Thu 3/20/2008 03:25PM
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Rest in Peace Martin Fierro!!! Thank You for all the wonderfull Music!!!

RothburyWithCheese starstarstarstarstar Thu 3/20/2008 04:11PM
Show -3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
marmock starstarstarstar Fri 3/28/2008 01:11PM
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Thankyou for being there for me when I needed it like a real friend should. You were my friend, shaman, brother and 2nd father. Thank you for being you and teaching me how to be myself. Oh chut up....

raf1 star Sun 4/6/2008 01:50PM
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my dad was very proud of lom..........

mattye starstarstarstarstar Mon 3/16/2009 10:02PM
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We had a lot of great times together, Martin, considering we're just a couple of turkey turds. Looking at those videos of Studio E in Petaluma with you, Kimock, Jackie King, Alex Baum, Jack Dorsey, Eric Wiley and me reminded me how much fun we had. You were an inspirational bandleader who believed in the magical power of music. You told me,"Don't think about the notes, Matty, think about the people you love and the places you like to be. Don't think about the notes."

I'm not thinking about the notes, Martin. I'm thinking about how much I miss you. Alex, Jack and I talk about you all the time, Meester. Every time we play we're thinking about you.

Keep a mike open for me, Martin, we'll have all eternity to jam our asses off!

With love, from Matt Eakle