Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Brendan Mullen: A Tribute

When a person dies, it’s common for others to say how wonderful they were, how much they cared, how genuine they were. In Brendan's case, all of those words rang true. He really was as great as the international press will say he was over the next few days. The world is so much less without him.

I moved to Los Angeles  in 2003 with dreams of becoming a music book author. After all, who doesn’t move to LA with dreams of being something?

Late one evening in 2005, my then-girlfriend and I were the only people having dinner at a small restaurant in Echo Park. I was talking her ear off about a book idea I had on “Albums that (Should’ve) Changed the World.” I told her my plans to feature the dearly departed Rik L Rik somewhere in those pages, as Rik’s deep voice was a major part of my life’s soundtrack. I knew I had my work cut out for me, as Rik was as much an enigma in death as he had been in life. I clearly remember saying to my companion, “I really need to touch base with people who were there when it all happened…”

The second I finished saying the word “happened,” in walked Brendan Mullen.

Since there is no such thing as a coincidence, I took full advantage of this interesting turn of events. I approached Brendan at his table, gave him my business card and asked for his assistance in piecing together the details of Rik L Rik’s life. To be honest, I was expecting Brendan to simply shoo me away after interrupting his meal. Instead, I got a warm smile and, “Sure! Anything for Rik! I’d be very happy to help you.”

Before long, Brendan became my volunteer co-pilot for my book chapter on Rik L Rik, regularly (almost obsessively) contacting me with dates, phone numbers, emails and insights into what the Los Angeles punk scene was truly like in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I could easily roll off the names of three dozen people I interviewed and got to know because of Brendan.

As the project continued, it became obvious that the Rik chapter would end up as a full-length oral history book and a charity release in support of Rik’s son. As soon as I told Brendan the news, he immediately offered a slew of tips on how to properly compose a book of this nature. Here I was, a writer who had yet to publish a single title, getting heartfelt advice from one of the greatest oral history editors of all time! Brendan really rolled up his sleeves for me, and there is true magic in the Rik book manuscript as a result.

Brendan is all over the upcoming Rik book… from verifying photos to correcting chronological data to writing the beautiful foreword. Brendan once told me how honored he was to be a part of this project.  In so many ways, the book is as much his as it is mine. And he didn’t ask for a dime.

So here I am, going through the ton of emails we shared over the years, laughing and crying at the same time. There was such humor and sweetness in his words. This is really, really hard.

There is a reason why Brendan Mullen is being mourned throughout the world as one of the most important promoters in the history of Rock n Roll: He believed in music and those who made that music.

He believed in me.

My heart is broken.  Goodbye, dear man.

Joel Gausten / October 13, 2009

EMAIL JOEL at gaustenbooks@gmail.com