RIP Mark Price
Mark in 1974 & at the last Huey gig (2006)
Tin Huey bassist Mark Price passed away in November 2008. To pay tribute to him, two of his Huey band-mates remember Price and his work- saxist Ralph Carney & keyboard player Harvey Gold.
I met Mark Price in 1974, most likely early winter. He was wearing a really corny tyrolian style winter cap and had one month's worth of stubble on his face and head after having shaved his head and eybrows with his pal Rick Peters the month before in an act of looniness... He was kinda frightning... but nice...
It was when I was working at Disc Records where Harvey Gold worked with me. I was just senior in high school and kept hearing about Harvey's band Tin Huey. Then I got in the band!
When I started playing with Tin Huey in the summer of 1974, right after graduating high school, I used to drive over to his house. He was still living with his parents and we would play louder than shit with his parents upstairs just tolerating it... His Mom was into it, not so sure about his dad, who was a judge. He played the craziest style bass and sang like a man possesed. He kind of had his own language which was sort of Eastern European sounding and a bit of Scottish as well... A great example of Mark's impromptu voices, is on a tape called "Water"- just Mark testing out his new delay system for the now-called "Bushflow" studios, somewhere in the mid 80's... It is a thing of beauty- Mark goes on and on about water... He could be a very cranky, no one to suffer fools when one didn't quite get some technical thing he was trying to explain, but it usually turned around into a funny wacked out response.
Tin Huey's Warner bros. period, seemed to be kind of hard on Mark- a bit too much pressure in a way. He did some amazing performances on the record though (Contents Dislodged During Shipping). He had more of a guitarist approach to bass and sometimes, he wasn't able to do parts that Chris Butler came up with which were at times technically chalanging. Also, there was a lot of "partying" (say no more) and there were a few overly medicated gigs and recordings,which are either brilliant or a complere waste.
When the band broke up after our deal with Warners was terminated (we got paid to NOT record a 2nd record), he went into a kind of down period even though he was married and had a step-kid. He was having to be more of an adult, tryng to make it by recording bands in Akron, at Bushflow studios though the interest in Akron was waning.
But finally with the help of his wife Beckie, they started a video production company that filmed show horses and lectures about horses- Beckie had an in to the horsey set... It was a living, and Mark did some amazing straightly-read voiceovers about horse sperm!! (you know, for breeding). But he was not playing much, if any, music...
He and Beckie moved out to California in the early '90's after I had come put from a non-succesful attempt to move back to Akron after living in N.Y. state for 9 years. This was late 1988 and 1989 until I moved out to the Bay Area in the fall of 1989, right before the Loma Prieta earthquake! The time spent in Akron that nine months was made tolerable by having Mark and Beckie around... They were getting into new age stuff and Mark had always had a crazy mystical side. They built pyramid speaker cabinets for the new "Bushflow" studios and he and his brother had built a Reichian orgone box in the early '70's!
We had alwyas tried to play music again but didn't really reconect 'til the Tin Huey reunion shows in 2003. That was such a great time! We did a few more shows and then Mark found out he had cancer. We did a benefit show for him and (guitarist) Michael Aylward who needed heart surgery- we called it the "Nicked Up Hueys Benefit." Mark played great but people just look different when you know they have cancer. He seemed to really be beating it and we did our last Tin Huey show in the spring of 2006. It was the best show of the lot.
Sadly, Mark got worse and the cancer got the best of him. There was a benefit for him in Marin where he lived, at a new age bookstore. I went to it, Mark looked very bad this time. I did a little improv thing and he joined me. It was to be Mark's last performance. He died little over a month later. He was truly a unique human (or maybe not human).
When Mark Price died on 11/4/08, I had put in 51 of our 56 years with him so I'd think there would be so much more to look back on than just "Mark Price, bass player for Tin Huey."
But what Mark was in this role with the band clearly reflected Mark, in general- both at his best and worst.
I remember in 6th grade, he was the first to wear glasses, me getting similar horn rimmed glasses a week or two later. He was president of Science Club, I (was) his VP. He (was) the first with Meet the Beatles, my mom taking me to O'Neil's to get it a day or two later. Mark was, for the longest time, in the most interesting ways, a step ahead, more often than not, as years passed, a serious giant step, not so much ahead, as way off to the left of the path... He'd make up characters, languages, accents, points of view, that would cause Pepsi to blow out (of) noses, make it impossible to breath as in addition to being hilariously creative in the most unorthodox ways, he was also relentless. A true entertainer- once he had you, he seldom let go.
As a bassist, while almost never there to provide that rock solid bottom expected of the rhythm section, he'd play things on a four string that was the stuff of legends- the kinds of things he would play in high school on his priceless Les Paul "Fred" after walking around his house practicing shredder speed scales for hours every day. Less a discipline than a symptom of his craziness. I recall the Hueys, one night, spontaneously stopping dead in the middle of a song, so shocked by some sort of flash insanity Mark threw off, that we could only yell at him, punch him, scream in outrageous delight, then start up the song again.
His signature song, "Seeing," so often started with the weirdest, most brilliant event that we can only, in the absence of a better term, call a bass solo, that I'd have tears coming out of my eyes by the time the rest of us kicked in.
To this day, when a bunch of us get together to 'jam,' there's an unique sound that comes out, an often randomly alternating rhythmic-arrhythmic, tonal-atonal, flow- herky jerk 'thing.' Not jazz, not rock, definitely not blues... in and out of pockets of all the above (except blues, of course), something I think we can place a good chunk of responsibility for on the shoulders of Mark... definitely Mark. His influence, as much as anything else, defined the earlier Hueys' sort of brittle angularity, assuming we can be deluded enough to assert that we ever offered anything whatsoever identifiable.
Mark was giving, always in search of more love, always looking to offer more love. He was the kindest man, would share anything he had, and thus always stood to end up with little to nothing for himself. He had little discipline but a real hunger for enlightenment. Unless you aimed him and pulled the trigger... AND stayed in the room with him, you'd have no assurance that anything he committed to would actually get done, but you could ALWAYS count on Mark to deliver, as a friend, a brother, a fellow musician, a combination of qualities that absolutely no one else in my experience has ever come close to exhibiting.
Couldn't remember to go back to the 'D' to save his life, but could tear off a riff that would strike you blind.
In more than one way, Mark Price played a strikingly strong role in defining my aesthetic, my view of the world, my way of playing music. He was also my friend and brother, gracing me with love and friendship for over half a century for which I will be ever grateful, and am heartbroken to be moving forward in time without him. In another, critically important form, he'll always be with me.
Also see the Tin Huey website
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