Remembering Rick

By Rob Darby on May 7, 2015


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With the recent passing of my brother, Rick, I've found myself thinking about the many ways I am indebted to him. It was Rick who would tickle my nose while I slept, which resulted in my own fist awakening me. It was Rick who laughed when his best friend and I broke a window while wrestling. Yes, he was, in some ways, a typical big brother.

However, he influenced me in some wonderful ways. When we were 15 and 13, he became too lazy to take care of his newspaper route, thus allowing me to make some money from it. In a matter of months, I met my goal. I had enough money to buy the world's cheapest bass guitar. But, at the last minute, I floundered. Did I really want to play bass? Maybe I'd prefer to play guitar, like Rick and our older sister, Karen. When I communicated my doubts to my brother, he quickly found a cure to my dilemma. He began by showing me John Paul Jones' fantastic bass lines on Led Zeppelin's “Ramble On.” That caught my attention, so he moved on to several Beatles' songs, with the kicker being McCartney's melodic work on “Something.” The topper, and the song that actually convinced me to play bass, was Cream's “Badge.” Jack Bruce became my musical hero, and eventually, like Jack, I would have everyone saying, “turn down the bass.”

 

In a relatively short time, Rick and I were playing horrendous versions of Beatles' songs in our shared bedroom. Then we started witing songs together—a pleasure which we would enjoy well into adulthood. By the time we were both in high school, I had joined a band with some school friends, and Rick had discovered the Blues. On a typical weekday morning, our mom would send me to awarken Rick. Most days he was already awake, sitting in his pajamas and playing blues guitar on his 1963 Fender Stratocaster.

 

 

My relatively mellow brother put together his first blues band to play at a back yard, family-safe party in the Summer of 1979. He took for the band's name a nickname given to him by my friends: “Mr. Passive.” I was thrilled that he asked me to play in this lineup, only to realize later that he didn't know any other bassists at the time.

 

 

I eventually caught the Blues bug from Rick, and in the late 80's we put together a 5-piece band with Rick and I both playing guitar. Over the course of a year, “Shakedown” dwindled to a three-piece, and I was on bass again. Then it fizzled out.

 

Rick Darby, The Crossing ClubIt was in '92-'93 that we had most of our musical fun. Returning more to our blues-rock roots, we starting a band with Bobby Sundre—an amazing drummer and wonderful guy. Bobby was a big Ginger Baker fan, Rick, a big Eric Clapton fan, and following Jack Bruce's lead, I was still playing the bass too loudly. This band, “The Crossing,” was a powerful blues-rock band that, for some reason, had a tendency to resemble Cream in it's approach. What a blast!

 

Uncontrollable circumstances eventually brought this band to halt, but we were then asked by a club manager to reunite and open for “The Mighty Flyers” (a regionally very successful blues band). Rick was at the top of his game that night, and he played his heart out—and he had a lot of heart! Applause broke out after each of his solos, with the occasional cry of, “turn the bass down!” I was always proud of my big brother, but that night I was in awe.

 

 

Within a few years after that, Rick was in a car accident that left in him with chronic, disabling back pain. He still played his guitar when he was up to it. Once again, it became a normal thing to find Rick, sitting on his bed in his pajamas, playing a Fender Stratocaster. When my work moved me out of Fresno, Rick and I kept in constant contact. Until May 1, 2015, when my brother drew his last breath, he continued to introduce me to new music and to encourage me in creating music.

 

 

I am greatly indebted to my big brother, Rick Darby (aka: Mr. Passive). Despite his calm demeanor, he had a passion for music and a love for people that made him a unique musician, and a truly great, and loveable guy.  RIP, Big Bro.

 

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By Rob Darby, one of Melody Fusion long lasting members. 


Ingrid Wood, Brielle

Ingrid Wood Flag
about 2 years ago

Rob, we are very sorry to hear about your brother's unexpected passing. Our deepest condolences and we wish you and your family lots of strength and love.

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Rob Darby, Oakley

Rob Darby Flag
11 months ago

Thank you all for reading this. Rick was a great guy (and musician), and I just wanted the world, or some small percentage of it, to know something about him!

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