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R.I.P. Jerry Fuchs

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Brooklyn drummer Jerry Fuchs died in a tragic elevator accident early Sunday morning in Williamsburg. The 34-year-old Georgia native played with many bands during his 14 years in New York City, including LCD Soundsystem, !!! (pronounced Chick-Chick-Chick), Turing Machine, and most recently the Juan Maclean, Holy Ghost!, and the Athens, Ga.-based Maserati. The Brooklyn music community is still in shock 48 hours later, but a few of his friends and former bandmates offered up some thoughts that help explain why so many felt such a strong connection to the mustachioed man behind the kit.


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Gerhardt Fuchs: The One-handed Drum Machine

Scott DeSimon

Fuchs' bandmate in Turing Machine

I loved listening to records in his apartment -- we called it 'The Shack" because, basically, it was. He lived in a self-contained room off of the hallway of an apartment. It was a [crappy] building and his roof leaked so he had this elaborate piece of sculpture over his bed that was basically a plastic funnel for any rainwater that came in. A few months ago, we were there listening to music and he was playing this Klaus Schultze record. I asked him what it was and told him I loved it. He went away on tour, and on last Wednesday night, we were back in his room listening to records again. And in his bag of record purchases from tour was the Klaus Schultze record I said I liked. He'd remembered that I'd like it and picked up a copy for me. He was always doing things like that. He was unfailingly loyal and generous to his friends. 

Musically, he was unmatched as a drummer but at the same time, hated being in the spotlight. In fact, a few times when we were on tour with Turing Machine and we'd arrive at a venue with an obnoxious drum riser, he'd set up in front of it instead of on it because he just thought it looked cheesy and wanted to be on the same level as the rest of the band. He was flat out the best drummer I've ever seen or played with.

Jon Fine

Fuchs' first bandmate in New York City

The word irreverent is a terrible and weak word, and I'm afraid that people will say Jerry was irreverent. He liked making fun of stuff and he liked making fun of himself. His bandmates in Holy Ghost! said it nicely: he was a dude who liked to hang out with his bros. The heart and generosity of that guy, and that fact that he was just so freaking funny ... and everyone responded to that. I think it took him a while to realize he was that funny, that he had that much to bring to the party, because when I met him, he didn't feel confident sorta being in the center or the swing of things socially. But you watched him grow into that, because he had to -- because he was that funny. The way he could bring people in and engage them was that strong. That's why you see the outpouring on Facebook and everywhere else, because so many people knew him, because every town that he played in, he was that guy. I mean, who wouldn't want to know him? Who wouldn't want to know him well? Who wouldn't want to be his friend? That's why he had so many friends in so many places. And he was never affected by any of this. Last year he played in maybe 200 shows -- just a completely punishing tour schedule -- but that meant that in his world he was an incredible success. All these people wanted him to play with them, all these people wanted him in the van and to be around him. But he was not the kind of guy who developed a swollen head the way you see with musicians -- he did not have a great deal of ego about himself socially or himself musically. He was a humble sweet guy from Georgia. Even though he grew up so much in New York City and in the rest of the world, on stage literally, he never lost site of that.

Jeremy deVine

Label Owner, Temporary Residence Records, home of Fuchs' band Maserati

I last saw Jerry on Friday, the day before he passed away. We met up for lunch at Roberta's as we have done many times before. He was preparing to leave for Paris on Sunday, so this would be our last chance to hang out for a while. As usual, we traded exhausting stories of our personal lives, which sort of seamlessly transition into semi-formal discussion about Maserati. During the discussion, I was lamenting about how this would be the first Thanksgiving that I spent alone since living in New York, and that I currently didn't have a TV or stereo due to a recent breakup. Without flinching, he responds "Dude, we gotta fix that immediately. You'll drive yourself crazy in that apartment without a TV. Trust me, I know where you are, I've been there. You need a TV, it'll make all the difference. I'm gonna sort you out with something this weekend before I leave." I brushed his offer away, but it was so exemplary of Jerry's nature. He was always one of, if not the most generous, humble and modest friend I knew. He always made me feel better about life, and I have to believe that anyone that knew him for longer than an hour felt the same way. I miss him already, more than words can express, but the lasting impression he has left on me will color almost every human interaction I have for as long as I live.

Henry Owings

Publisher, Chunklet Magazine and close friend of Fuchs

The longer I'm on this planet, the more I realize how rare it is to find somebody like Jerry. One thing that I noticed over the years: musicians are a strange bunch. The ones in the band that are always the strangest are the drummers. Knowing Jerry the way I did, he defied every convention as far as what a drummer -- and somebody at his level of talent -- should be like ... because so many of them are smug jerks, or people you don't want to talk to. Jerry was always -- always -- the one in every band he was in that I would gravitate toward socially and musically. He used to play in a band in Athens called Space Cookie. It was four-on-the-floor Descendents rock, but it didn't matter. It didn't matter because you could just stand at the front of the stage and just watch him play. And it was a blast. And then when he got off the stage, he'd do some goofy dances or something -- he never took himself seriously, which I think was endearing in a professional sense, but also in a personal sense.

Village Voice remembers Fuchs: "The Most Wanted Drummer In Brooklyn"


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