Sleep Well, Sweet Prince, Bobby "Load" Johnston, 1970 to 2012

Writing obituaries is a miserable way to make a living, especially when you've known the person who passed. But such is life, and if did know the dearly departed, as in this case, sitting around and getting down on yourself is not the way to tackle things. 

You bring the pills, I'll bring the alcohol.

My first skirmish with Load was back in the '90s when they opened up for the Ramones at The Edge.  Forever seared into my memory was frontman Bobby diving offstage and crowd surfing his way to the bar. Which prompted Jeff Tucci, if I remember correctly, to lead the band through an instrumental whilst trying to get Bobby's attention on the microphone.

It was hilarious and sad to see his attempts fail to the tune of, "Hey Bobby, when you get a chance, err, can you come back on stage, we're not done yet..."

That's fucking punk rock.

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It's not even that, is it? Did I not introduce myself to Bobby at least eight times from that show until two years ago? Did he ever remember me? Fuck no. And why should he? Bobby Load lived it his way. From Load to Southern Flaw to his last engagement with the Psycho Daisies, a band who's known its fair share of death, but who understood the nuances of genius and unfortunately remain criminally under the radar.

Bobby had been under hospice care for some time relating to some health issues I'm not particular clear on, but we can venture to guess that alcohol might've had something to do with it and we only do so because it is part of the myth. From the friends who helped him celebrate his forty-second birthday a week ago, we know that he was peaceful and surrounded by love.

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But I'm a little Johnny-come-lately to some of this. Friend, Blowfly's cracker and former New Times writer Tom Bowker knew Bobby back then and this Facebook update's as close as you can come to summarizing it: "The best way I can think of to celebrate Bobby Load's life, is to go over to Aesop Dekker's Cosmic Hearse, download the records we rolled funny cigs on 20 years ago, and turn that good shit up to 11. Then, reconvene at a bar with cheap beer and tell Bobby Load tales until sunrise."

You might want to book a couple of contiguous sunrises because the tales do span that long. He might've been a weird drunk who always looked sweaty, but Bobby Load was without a doubt the finest front man any punk band has ever produced in the dirty south. He embodied the writhing nastiness of Iggy, the Devil-may-care-and-shit-on-you attitude of GG and he was soft on the eyes of many a broad a la Kurt.

Regardless of which, any gig that featured him would undoubtedly be a treat. Equal parts poet and idiot savant, Bobby had a commanding and mesmerizing presence that will go unequaled for a very long time. 

Sleep well sweet prince, raise some Hell wherever you end up. Give the afterlife a South Florida flavored racket!

Punks don't fade, they walk into the sun!

Bobby "Load" Johnston 10/12/1970 to 10/19/2012, check here for funeral arrangements and donation possibilities.

Load - 1997 at Churchill's

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