Only this week did I learn that my friend Dave Amara (1964-2014) passed on June 19th.
Some of my longest running relationships with friends, family, co-workers, etc. include several people who share the same first name, and this Dave was younger than any of them, so I am especially shocked and saddened. He was a true friend, a beautiful person.
We stayed connected from the first time we met (1986 or early 1987) until fairly recently, when he called me on the air at KAOS. The phone call might have been no different than usual, except that Dave was going through a difficult stretch. Perhaps I could commiserate with him because I too know about struggling to keep or attain a good job, about family strife, and what it's like to be a loving father. Although I became a parent long before Dave, I always learned something from him. I would visit him at his home when I traveled from Washington to Michigan almost every summer (1994-2010) and witnessed how much he loved his children during the more recent get-togethers.
He was crazy about the British band Badfinger, and a few years ago did a radio special with WCSX/Detroit's John O'Leary on the group. I hope that is archived somewhere.
Needless to say, my radio tribute to Dave this week is a set of Badfinger tunes.
Dave was pals with Joey Molland, who joined Badfinger in 1969 when the Iveys split and morphed into their more celebrated incarnation. Since Joey has been been playing the oldies circuit for many years now, and it's not known for huge revenue, Dave would pick him up at the Detroit airport--and once he did an incredible favor for Joey. Molland was trying to either get to Canada or get back into the states and realized he didn't have his passport. I probably don't have all the details right, but it went something like this: Joey's wife Kathy (now deceased) overnighted the passport to Dave from the Molland home in Minnesota and Dave hurried it to the Windsor-Detroit border (Windsor, Ontario is the true "South Detroit"), enabling his friend to enter, or re-enter. And I don't believe this great act of selflessness had anything to do with idolizing a rock'n'roll star, either. Dave would have done the same for anyone he cared about.
One of the coolest memories I have of Dave happened during the dregs of my radio career. I had to do a remote broadcast for WBRB one June (possibly from New Baltimore, MI) during the hell that is known as Fishfly Week in Michigan. Those awful insects with wings (which live only 24 hours--or a week, depending on which encyclopedia you read--after they exit the larvae stage) stick to everything in sight: your clothes, your skin, your car, buildings, your dirty soul. The dead ones eventually end up on the ground and crackle as you step on them; no avoiding that, as they simply pile up, everywhere. Dave hung out with me at that broadcast for a long spell--he may have even helped me pack up the radio equipment when that ridiculous night was finally over.
When WBRB folded in early 1990, Dave left the funniest message on their answering machine, impersonating the voice of a senior citizen. He said, "The Voice of Macomb County has been silenced forever!" I've tried to simulate that tone many times, never getting close to how zany he made it sound.
He was cool enough to support my sometimes struggling bands over the years, often joking about how our main singer didn't get the opening line correct when we played Badfinger's "No Matter What." We always had so much to talk about, and last night, I found the vinyl of the Rutles album he gave me. It brought back a rush of memories.
The unforgettable Dave always signed off his emails to me with "keep believin'." I miss you so much, my wonderful friend. I hurt for everyone who loves you, which includes myself. You have always made me believe in the power of friendship.