RIP Kevin Dubrow

Whenever a musician unexpectedly passes away, people open up and share stories about how an album/song/concert changed their life or how the musician once signed their stuff behind a club or how they had a chance to interview the musician and how the person was totally cool and down to earth. Quiet Riot’s singer Kevin Dubrow was found dead in his Las Vegas home on November 25, the cause of death has not yet been determined though check out any heavy metal message board for speculation (drugs, heart attack, etc., etc.). I’m no different than anybody else. I never really met Dubrow in the two times that I saw Quiet Riot play but I do have two quick stories to share.

A veteran of a whopping 3 arena rock shows (Huey Lewis, Aerosmith, Ozzy), the Quiet Riot/Poison show I saw at the Cleveland Agora when QR was touring to support ‘QR III‘ (and Poison was an unknown opener) was the first “small” club show I ever attended (the Agora maybe held 1,000 people, give or take). It opened my eyes to the whole concert going experience. Never before did I think I’d be within arm’s reach of a musician I liked, especially given that my seats at the previous 3 shows I had attended were nosebleeds where even looking through binoculars didn’t help. The ‘QR III’ cassette was a favorite of mine at the time but I listened to it not so long ago and it really didn’t stand the test of time – WAY too liberal a use of keyboards, but that’s what the MTV audience wanted at the time.

Years later – many, many years later (’99?) – I caught Quiet Riot on the state fair circuit, touring with Warrant, Slaughter, and Firehouse. I was there to see Warrant but Quiet Riot really surprised me. I wasn’t expecting much but they delivered a powerful set (the same way Great White did, with little expectations, when I saw them in Cincinnati a few years ago). After the show I hung out behind the fairground amphitheater, hoping to get an autograph or two from any of the guys in Warrant. Dubrow emerged from the backstage area wearing the shortest pair of cut-off jean shorts that I had ever seen a man wear. He signed a few quick autographs and then hopped into the front of a pickup truck, sandwiched between presumably two ’80s chicks who were looking to party. As they drove off, the handful of us gathered around just laughed at Dubrow’s appearance and how sad it was that a guy who once probably took limos to aftershow parties was now sandwiched between two women well past their prime.

I was pretty excited to see Quiet Riot and Slaughter this past summer but the show was the same date as a Silversun Pickups show that I already had tickets to so I passed on the retro act in favor of a sound of the future. Not sure I made a bad decision that night, but in retrospect I probably would have gone to the QR/Slaughter bill, all things considered.

Here’s one of my favorite Quiet Riot songs, “Slick Black Cadillac”.

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