Monday, September 13, 2010

Tom O’Rourke: A Remembrance

The photo at left is a Cincinnati-based band named Kickstart. On the viewer's left is the bass player, Wayne Bachelier, a classmate of mine from McNicholas High School. To the right is his older brother Mike, the multi-instrumentalist and songwriter. In the middle, on the lead guitar, is another classmate, Thomas “Snork” O’Rourke.

Tom was the best guitar player in the class. I first learned the blues from Tom; not just how to play it, but how to feel it, and how to let the listener know what I was feeling. "The folk music of the South," he called it, with an intuitive understanding of what that meant. He was also a good friend, and not only because he laughed at my stupid jokes. After graduation, we'd see one another on campus at UC, and occasionally at reunions, but I more or less lost touch with him.

At some point, he stopped playing for a long time. Apparently he started up again, and had been playing with the Bacheliers. Last Saturday, he got a new motorcycle. The next day he passed on an invitation from Wayne to come over to play. Tom wanted to try out his new wheels. According to news reports, Tom was riding down State Route 749 in Pierce Township early yesterday afternoon, when a Lincoln Continental coming the other way, edged over the double-yellow line and struck his bike, killing him instantly.

Tom is survived by his wife, Cheryl, and their two children. If there's a memorial in early October, I'll already be there for it. Otherwise I'll have a Mass said. And I'll do what Tom did when he came to his senses. I'll get serious about the guitar again after a few years of slacking off. Someone's gotta pick up where Tom left off. I owe myself that much, to say nothing of Tom.

Requiescat in pace. amen.

POSTSCRIPT: I want to extend a special welcome to readers from the Cincinnati area, who are visiting this site for the first time. (Yes, I'm opinionated; I've learned to live with it.) I moved to the DC area in 1980, but I get back home once or twice a year. My next visit is in early October. Just so you know. I also feature a "guitar workshop" here on most Thursdays. Just so you know that too.

POST-POSTSCRIPT: The visitation will be at TP White on Friday night from 5-8. Everyone is invited to Rick Schlueter's house afterwards. I'll be there in spirit.


Unknown said...

I have only known Tom for the last year through Mike Bachelier. But what I know he was a "class act" guitar player, but also as a person. My passion took to me to a hospital in Haiti last June. When I came home I asked the band if they would record "Just One Girl" written by Mike about my trip, and dedicate all the money collected to Project Medishare
Relief for Haiti. Tom was right there, when I started sponsoring a Haitian family Tom was again right there to offer support. Their song is on iTunes for download, but last Saturday I showed Tom and the band the CD covers and CDs Mike and I made of the song. Tom was really happy that he could turn his love of music into a source of hope. God blessed me for allowing me to have him as a friend this last year. RIP
Kim Banrad (Lydia)

Unknown said...

Anyone that knew Tom had a friend in him.. Class Act from hello ~ Tom and his music will be greatly missed~ I feel honored to have known Tom.
My heartfelt sympathy goes out to Cheryl,Colin and the rest of the family.. RIP Tom~ #1 kickstart fan -Missy