On October 17th, 2016, I received terrible news. Jeremy Spears texted to let me know that our old friend, Shaun Fox, had died.
After the shock subsided, I texted Jeremy back and we talked more than we had in years. It was good to catch up, despite the circumstances. I contacted Adam Triplett and let him know; he and I had a long-overdue catch up of our own.
Where does one begin when eulogizing an old friend? Thankfully, I haven’t had much opportunity to do that. Shaun and I spent a lot of time together for a short while. At one point in my life, he was one of my best friends. I remember late nights spent writing music, weekend practice sessions, going to shows at places like Common Grounds, The Pit, and the LKM Auditorium. Memories of stapling flyers for our upcoming shows to utility poles in Nitro, even plastering a high school with them after the janitor let us in after hours.
I remember making copies of cassette tapes of our music, manually, one-by-one until we had hundreds sitting in a pile (and we sold them all). I have vivid memories of attending and playing shows in Huntington, Nitro, even Winston-Salem, N.C. And all those late night runs to Hardee’s because it was the only place open at 2 AM. I remember going to parties with our friends; I drove because Shaun didn’t have a license yet.
In late ’94, Shaun and I wanted to go see a band called Stick play at Gumby’s. Shaun was 16 at the time, clearly too young to go. So his mom called Gumby’s and asked if she could write a note, allowing him entry. Someone told her it’d be okay, so Shaun went, note in hand. We got to the door and the bouncer looked at the note, puzzled. Shaun explained that his mom had called and gotten permission.
The bouncer thought about it, shrugged, and let him in. No shit. I couldn’t believe it. That’d never happen today.
So many shows played. So many late nights discussing the wide-open future. So many new bands, new sounds, and new experiences were had by Shaun and me, together. Amazing times that seemed as if they’d never end.
But I also remember that we fell out of touch. Flood disbanded and our friendship suffered for a while. We reconnected and left as friends, but with little contact. Before Traci and I moved to St. Louis in late 2000, we had a party at our apartment; Shaun came and we got a chance to catch up again. I’m really glad we got the chance to do that. When I visited West Virginia in 2003 Shaun and I missed each other. I regret not being able to catch up that trip, but who would have thought then that it would be one of the last times we spoke?
As I write this, my Nitro days are more than twenty-five years behind me, but they’re no less indelible or important. If anything, the memories I made then are more valuable than ever, considering I have fewer years in front of me than I have behind me now. The teenage version of Shaun Fox from my memories-the kid I befriended when I was also a kid-hasn’t existed for many years now, but I mourn the loss. I mourn the loss of the adult version that he later became; the person I never really got to know. Even if I didn’t know him very well at the end, it’s still tough to say goodbye.
Goodbye, old friend. You went too soon. I’m glad to have had the opportunity to meet you and, together to have made some of the best music and memories of my life.
Brian Jarrett / November 5th, 2016