Gene Eugene's Funeral
By Dan MacIntosh
DanielAmos.com March 25, 2000
"We just don't do this sort of thing well," remarked Mike Stand. "I'm used to running into all these guys at festivals, not funerals." Stand captured this awkward moment perfectly. What were guys like Mike Knott and Derri Daugherty doing carrying a casket? Why was Dan Michaels fighting back the tears to eulogize his buddy at the gravesite?
Yet, strange as it was, there stood so many of my musical heroes dressed in black, burying the irreplaceable Gene Eugene.
This morning was a scene for uncountable uncomfortable exchanges that went something like this: "Hey, good to see ya. Sorry it had to be for an occasion like this." The weatherman predicted rain, but bright sunshine beamed down upon the plot in Ontario, CA where Eugene's body now lies.
Gene Eugene was only 39 (or 38, depending upon who you ask). I'm only 37. Guys my age don't pass away suddenly. Besides, rock & roll doesn't take its victims quietly. We've come to expect stories of fiery plane crashes or high-speed auto accidents as the likely causes of death. Not how Eugene went, secretly in his sleep.
Nevertheless, I must admit that more than a touch of gray has crept onto the heads, beards and mustaches of many of my favorite musicians. That is, of course, for the ones who still had any hair left at all. All this to say that we're all not getting any younger.
Gene always appeared to be older than he really was. His sad eyes and weathered face told of a hard life lived. Still, Gene Eugene had a lot of music left in him. Nobody denies that he should have made more than the handful of Adam Again discs they put out in his lifetime. But then, had he not contributed so generously to so many other artists' projects as a producer, engineer or musician, there probably wouldn't have been the overwhelming number of fellow musicians at his send-off.
The bulletin at the church read "In Loving Memory Of Gene Emil Harvey "Eugene" Andrusco." I never knew he had that many names, nor was I ever aware he was born in Fort Frances, Ontario, Canada. How ironic: Born in one Ontario, buried in another one halfway across the continent.
The service was officiated by Johnny Bunch, who is Riki Michele's dad. Pastor Bunch talked at length about how this strict Pentecostal preacher struggled with the then radical music Adam Again was bringing into his church. He recounted how he went from being stubbornly against it all, to gladly telling anyone within earshot "I'm family."
Rob Watson spoke quietly about how frustrated he'd become whenever Gene owed him money, yet how willing he was to rush to the Green Room whenever his services were needed. As he and others noted more than once, Gene probably died owing the most of the room money-yours truly included-but nobody really cared. We all loved Gene. Enough to forgive him anything.
Terry Taylor read poignantly from what looked like a four or five page handwritten document. He spoke of how Eugene the baseball-lover was so supportive of Taylor's own son's hardball efforts. He also joked about the Green Room's constant state of disrepair. He revealed how Gene had the annoying habit of lampooning almost every artists' lyrics, always changing them into something about his own butt. Taylor would laugh, get angry, then ultimately only laugh about this childish ploy. Gene was just being Gene.
Most importantly, Taylor talked of how Eugene's professional opinion of his work counted more than anyone else's. If Eugene didn't immediately love something Terry had written, it troubled him.
Through tears, Mike Knott read a few notes from Eugene's friends and family, before speaking from his own heart. My wife always jokingly refers to Knott as "The Scary Guy," but on this morning, he was a humbled and broken man. His brief talk about Eugene's innate goodness represented the feelings of all of us.
Jon Gibson sang one song for Gene. After finishing it, he spoke-as if speaking directly to Eugene-about how Gene was the only one in this industry to ever give him any love. Eugene had a lot of love to give, and always gave it freely.
The morning's difficult duties ended at the gravesite where Crystal Lewis sang a song Eugene had recently produced for her.
Before I left, I noticed that Mike Stand was one of the last people standing at Eugene's casket. I heard him ask out loud "How do you say good-bye?"
That, my friend, is our dilemma. You've caught us off guard, Gene. We still had so much to say to you. So much to thank you for. But more than this, you still had much more to tell us and teach us.
But in order hear the rest of Gene Eugene's painfully beautiful story, we'll have to wait for glory to once again sit at the feet of this sad-eyed storyteller. We'll miss you Gene.