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SurfGuitar101 Forums » Surf Music General Discussion »

Permalink Rich Fifield of the Astronauts has passed

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Bob Dalley reported yesterday that we lost one of the greats. Anyone who plays or enjoys Surf owes a debt of gratitude to Rich Fifield. For a few years his band burned white hot, and released genre defining recordings. The world may not note his passing, but this little corner won’t forget. God bless The Astronauts.

Rich and the Astronauts rule. So sorry to hear this.

The Delverados
Kristi Jean and the Ne'er Do Wells and Facebook
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So very sorry to hear of Rich's passing. He was one of the giants of surf guitar. RIP.

Bob

image

Jeff(bigtikidude)

Darn!

The artist formerly known as: Synchro

When Surf Guitar is outlawed only outlaws will play Surf Guitar.

It looks like Rich Fifield died on Nov. 18, 2021
A few day later, drummer Jim Gallagher passed away.
Here's the obituary.
https://www.dignitymemorial.com/obituaries/boulder-co/james-gallagher-10456263
As of this writing, I believe Jon "Stormy" Patterson is still alive.

"You can't tell where you're going if you don't know where you've been"

Here's a video of a bunch of differently sourced Astronauts video /docs strung together. It's a nice documentary to the Astronauts. John Koontz's (Tuck) footage of The Astronauts induction to the Colorado Hall of Fame makes an appearance. John was a huge fan -

It's kind of cool knowing that one of the most influential surf bands of all time came from just up the road, in Colorado.

RIP Jimmy, Rich, Bob, and Denny.

"You can't tell where you're going if you don't know where you've been"

Last edited: Nov 27, 2021 18:24:50

Thanks Chris

Jeff(bigtikidude)

https://www.dailycamera.com/2021/11/30/astronauts-drummer-longtime-boulder-resident-jim-gallagher-dies-at-78/?fbclid=IwAR3w6vHd4zuzfgtgw5fuRCQi3-bmgPxYPUEM8aB_Ld5bIeplTbXDTHyTb6M

A very nice write-up for Jim Gallagher. No Rich Fifield info.

I doubt more than 10 of us even care - prove me wrong....go

"You can't tell where you're going if you don't know where you've been"

Last edited: Dec 01, 2021 22:08:31

Sonichris wrote:

https://www.dailycamera.com/2021/11/30/astronauts-drummer-longtime-boulder-resident-jim-gallagher-dies-at-78/?fbclid=IwAR3w6vHd4zuzfgtgw5fuRCQi3-bmgPxYPUEM8aB_Ld5bIeplTbXDTHyTb6M

A very nice write-up for Jim Gallagher. No Rich Fifield info.

I doubt more than 10 of us even care - prove me wrong....go

As a Westminster/Broomfield guy, I may not be representative of the masses, but I care, and I think that there are a lot of other folks that care, as well. The Boulder music community was pretty small and I would venture that anyone who wanted to remain active in music in those parts would be remembered within the circle.

That’s what I always liked, because it was a small community of musicians and if you dropped into the Peking for some Jazz or popped over to the Walrus, you might find yourself in the presence of some serious talent, all for the price of a virgin screwdriver.

Actually, there’s more likelihood that I would have dropped by Jim Gallagher’s Dairy Queen, than have heard him play music. It was fairly near where I lived as a teen.

So, I’m only one out of ten, but I suspect that there are many more. The sad thing is watching that generation of musicians pass on. The Jazz guitarists I was in awe of as a kid have all left us and more than a few of the Classic Rock guys are gone as well. The First Wave of Surf was 60 years ago and the youngest of those artists would be in their mid seventies, by now.

But we are keeping the music alive and through the Internet we are able to stay in touch with people that are still interested. I remember hearing First Wave Surf when I was just a child and it means as much to me now as it did back then; which is to say that is means a lot to me. My appreciation has only grown over the years. These early Surf bands were pioneers.

The artist formerly known as: Synchro

When Surf Guitar is outlawed only outlaws will play Surf Guitar.

Last edited: Dec 01, 2021 22:55:53

Thanks Chris for the updates. The Astronauts were definitely magic/lightning in a bottle. I remember having so much fun trying to play their songs.

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"It starts... when it begins" -- Ralf Kilauea

Rich, Jim and Company were way more influential on me and my 60's era bandmates than just their brilliant surf guitar recordings.

As I've written here before, one of my high school classmates, who's dad was a records rep for RCA, introduced me to the A-nauts in the fall of '63 when he gave me a promotional copy of their brand new "Everything is A-OK" album.  Just looking at the album's cover was enough to hook any aspiring guitarist.  It obviously made a hell of an impression on me.  I shortly thereafter discovered their "Surfing' with..." and well, here we are.

Additionally, throughout the mid-sixties we would grab the latest Astronauts album and try to learn everything on them, adding those songs to our band's ever expanding song lists.

I was lucky enough to catch them live here in Atlanta twice in the Summer of 1965.  They played no surf at either show but they rocked.  After their first show, my two buds and I got the opportunity to meet the guys and hang out for a while.  That was mind blowing because all three of us were big time fans.  The guys in the band were very engaging. At those shows, Rich was playing a Fender Mustang guitar out of a Super Reverb amp with two blown speakers... At that point, I had a Super Reverb with several blown speakers... Figure.  During our conversation that day Rich turned me onto the concept using super light strings.  His description of how taking a normal set, tossing the low E, moving them all down one position and adding a banjo string for the first string was "frightening." At that point in time, no sets configured like that were commercially available.  Pretty cool.

The influence that Rich's lead guitar work had on my guitar playing, (especially my trying to improvise which is actually pretty funny), all goes back to Astronauts and the records they made for RCA.

At some point in the late 90's I ran into Willie Moseley who writes for Vintage Guitar Magazine at a local guitar show.  We got to talking music and pretty soon the conversation (which at this point also included Jeff Carlessi from 38-Special) morphed into surf.  He mentioned that he had just written up an interview with Bob Demmon for the magazine.  After I related my Astronauts experiences to him, he offered to check with Bob to see if it would be OK for me to give him a phone call.  Not long after that Bob called me at the office one afternoon, and we proceeded to yack for about two hours.  It was a really special experience.  He told me that he well remembered playing in Atlanta, and that the guys in the band never realized until he did the interview with Moseley, that the band had such a devoted following.

Add me to the list.

Add me to the list several times……

Ed

Traditional........speak softly and play through a big blonde amp. Did I mention that I still like big blonde amps?

You make a good point, Eddie. It wasn’t limited to Surf music, for a lot of these people, and especially so if they wanted to remain in business after about 1964, or so. These guys were musicians, and covered the ground they needed to cover. The movie scene where the Blues Brothers cover Country songs comes out of real life.

The artist formerly known as: Synchro

When Surf Guitar is outlawed only outlaws will play Surf Guitar.

Been there and done that synchro. I did about a year in a "country" band playing 60's and earlier country and about 10 years hiding from sight and discovery in a wedding band.

The country band played every Saturday night for six months in the same dive.

The wedding band played out about once a month or maybe a bit less but raked in the cash when we played.

Cheers,

ed

Traditional........speak softly and play through a big blonde amp. Did I mention that I still like big blonde amps?

Thanks for posting that video, Chris.

eddiekatcher wrote:

Been there and done that synchro. I did about a year in a "country" band playing 60's and earlier country and about 10 years hiding from sight and discovery in a wedding band.

The country band played every Saturday night for six months in the same dive.

The wedding band played out about once a month or maybe a bit less but raked in the cash when we played.

Cheers,

ed

When I was in my early twenties, I fancied myself a Jazz guitarist and was committed to seeking my fortune as a Jazz guitarist. Somewhere along the line I realized that even a national caliber Jazz guitarist would probably not make much money and revised my goals. But, back in the day, I played Moose Lodges, VFWs, weddings and even a high end Bar Mitzvah. I remember fearing that someone I knew would walk into the Moose Lodge and I’d be caught, red-handed, playing sing-along music for a bunch of beered-up Moose members. Imagine the shame of knowing 10,000 chords and only ever using three of them. Smile

I don’t have a professional reputation to protect, so it’s really of no concern in my case. However, it is ironic that no matter how accomplished a player is, there’s a fair chance that they will, sooner or later, end up doing a “three chords and stale beer” gig. My next scheduled gig is mostly C&W, but I have some influence in the setlist, so the tunes are good.

The artist formerly known as: Synchro

When Surf Guitar is outlawed only outlaws will play Surf Guitar.

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