RIP, Jeff Tucci, South Florida Punk Rock Guitar God
I cleaned some sprouts off some red potatoes, and they sat in the sink, wet and glistening like pomegranate seeds. It was a fleeting thought, them looking that way. A thought I found amusing and privately poetic. I had recently heard that Jeff Tucci had passed. I didn't know the details of his death, still don't, but with my hands in the hot water, potatoes in hand, I began wondering how I'd go about my words here.
A couple of months ago, Load drummer Fausto Figueredo had asked me to pen the liner notes to the band's upcoming album, Drunken Warrior Chief, an honor for me as longtime fan yet bittersweet because Bobby "Load" Johnston's passing had been the last time I wrote about the legendary Miami punk crew. Recently, and before any knowledge of this sad news, I had been informed that my words would not be used in the release and that the band had opted to write something themselves, which is completely understandable -- I was honored for the consideration.
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In my many years writing for New Times, I've been called many things and accused of a great many other. I did not include Jeff in a recent list of Miami's Ten Best Punk Guitarists of All Time, a deliberate action on my behalf and one based more on the click-baiting nature of blogging than anything else.
I had plans for a list that would honor the monstrous accomplishments of Jeff Tucci. It stung when Phil Phucked said, "The simple fact that Jeff Tucci isn't on here makes this list completely irrelevant. Don't try to say that you're saving him for some other subgenre's list."
Plenty of other folks called me out on this omission.
In the few times we spoke, Jeff was nothing short of incredibly nice. A gentleman with a soft side and a pure if not completely natural punkrockliness.
There have been many great guitarists in South Florida's punk rock community, but none will ever embody the gravitas and depth of Tucci's work.
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Though best-known for his years with Load, Tucci also performed with Jack Off Jill and Middle Finger Mob.
I once wrote a review of Middle Finger Mob's demo CD for the now-defunct Street Weekly. I can't remember for shit what I wrote exactly (aside from liking the effort), but I can remember writing something about his guitar that he found pleasing and his thanking me at a show I booked with them at the also-defunct Gables Pub.
At that show, I also remember his reassuring me that they would abstain from wrestling antics, as my relationship with the establishment was based solely on my guaranteeing the bands and crowd would not fuck it up to hell.
If I remember correctly, it was Jeff who led the charge, knocking over a chair. Oh well, I just couldn't get mad.
Jeff during Load's show, opening for the Ramones in Tampa.
The Load/Faceless Wreckords crew has released a statement on Tucci's passing:
As some of you know that unfortunately yes, Jeff Tucci is no longer with us. Jeff was known by many nicknames (Tucc, Coach, Nature Boy, etc...), but really our favorite nickname was 'our brother.' Speaking of families, we can't even imagine what Jeff's family is going through right now, so please let them mourn, as we all do, in (their) own way.
It's been a rough week and hopefully soon enough we will be trading stories about the man himself and our good times.
I'm sorry and saddened. My thoughts go out to Jeff's family and friends. The upcoming Load album was already imbued with some sadness, and it's been doubled now.
When Bobby died, I spoke of punks not dying, but instead walking into the sun. Considering the potato sprouts mistaken for pomegranate seeds, I'll forgo any further poetics, but Tucci's musical presence was too large for death -- he too has walked into the sun.
Arrangements at the time of this writing are private, but a memorial service may occur later this month. Information will be made available via facebook.com/Load.FacelessWreckords.
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