Brian O’Laughlin

That’s us with Brian O’Laughlin, he on the left. Funny, musical, soft spoken, gentle, sharp, stoned, and a little lost, he’s long gone now but still much loved, still remembered. Yet this seems to be the only picture of him we have. It was 1985 or so in a motel room in San Francisco between a pair of John Trubee and the Ugly Janitors of America gigs and Brian was filling in for Michael Rosen on drums. We’d made a memorable weekend of it. There’d been the gig at Berkeley Square the night before and a bunch of us drank all of Camper Van Beethoven’s beer and they looked at us angrily but they thought if they said anything we’d kick their college rock asses. I suppose me and Ugly Janitors Brian and Jon Sharkey plus Ed O’Bryan, also along for the trip, did loom somewhat. That was the night before this pic was snapped. Later that night after this pic was snapped the band played the Viz on Divisidero, the old Viz, still a bar, on a frigid San Francisco night. The Janitors played an incredibly memorable set highlighted by the old Brel tune No Time To Live in which Trubee gave one of the most expressively gorgeous guitar solos I’ve ever heard by anybody. It was stunning. I recorded the set on cassette, and it still knocks me out. Brian was on loan from Richie Hass and the Beatniks, who we were really tight with, but that’s another story.

Actually I think I have that chronology reversed. The Viz gig was first, a Friday, then we drank all Camper Van Beethoven’s beer on Saturday night. There was a local band on the bill, also large, the Morlocks I think they were, and we and the Janitors and the Morlocks owned the Berkeley Square green room, drinking all the beer and eating all the little sandwiches and smoking bowl after bowl of dope and it was like backstage in Mad Dogs and Englishmen but without the Texas Butter Queen. I remember loudly complaining that the cheap ass club hadn’t supplied us with enough beer, and these skinny little guys across the room muttering amongst themselves. A bartender brought out more beer, told us it was for Camper Van Beethoven and the skinny little guys glowered at us so we drank some of it and stole the rest while they were on stage.

Later back in the room the three of us cracked open the beers and smoked more dope and told stoned jokes and spun stoned stories, some even true. We found some Dead on the radio and Fyl complained and Brian laughed and laughed.

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