By Adam Waldman
Today is the sixth anniversary of the launch of Hard Rock Daddy. Aside from acknowledging the anniversary on social media, I had no real plans to commemorate the occasion. That all changed on January 14th of this year when I saw a post by Sahaj Ticotin talking about the passing of Brian Bowman. I clicked on the link to Brian’s name, hoping that it was just someone else with my friend’s name. I figured that there was a chance since Sahaj is a musician and producer with a lot of friends. My heart sank as the link took me to my friend’s page.
Brian and I never met in person. We became friends because he was such a big fan of Hard Rock Daddy. That’s how we met, but as time progressed, we would have conversations about a variety a topics beyond our love of the same music. We are both dedicated family men with the same views of the world, and equally passionate about music and sports. If we didn’t live halfway across the country from each other, I have no doubt that we would have gone to concerts together, attend sporting events together, or just grab coffee to sit and talk about life.
Brian was such a big fan of Hard Rock Daddy that he would e-mail me asking when the annual Top 100 Hard Rock Songs of the year list would be put out. In fact, that was our first interaction. I always knew that there were fans of the site, and that the list is popular, but I never thought that people were actually anxious for it to be released.
Here is my last interaction with Brian…
January 11, 2019
ME: “Hey brother. You’ve been very patient this year. Hope everything is ok. LOL. Just published the Top 100 Hard Rock Songs of 2018. Here’s a link.”
BRIAN: “Yes!! I was giving you 3 more days until I started bugging you about it. LOL”
ME: “LOL. Nice! Help me spread the word if you can.”
How appropriate that his last word to me was “absofruitly.” I can hear it in his voice as if he spoke the word instead of typing it. What a perfect way to capture his personality in one made up word. Always there to help in any way that he could. Always the biggest fan of the site and the annual list. Always the loyal friend. We only knew each other for a short time, but I am genuinely pained by his loss.
True to his word, Brian’s last correspondence to his brother, Tim, was a link to the list of the Top 100 Hard Rock Songs of 2018. It was also his last correspondence to his eldest son, Keegan. His last post on Facebook was on the same day that we e-mailed. It was an article entitled “The Legend Of Zelda Theme Meets Heavy Metal In This New Video.” I was one of eight friends tagged in the post.
I wasn’t there physically on January 13th, the day that Brian passed away due to complications from Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Though we only knew each other for a few years, I was one of the last people on his mind before this tragedy struck.
It wasn’t until Brian’s wife, Terra, shared a poster to be used at his memorial that I realized that his birthday was (appropriately) the same day as Hard Rock Daddy’s launch anniversary. He would have been 44 today. I wish that we were just celebrating the anniversary of the launch of the site today instead of memorializing one of my friends, but these are the cards that have been dealt by life.
Brian was such a passionate music fan, that celebrating his life in song (with stories from family and friends) is the best way to honor his memory.
I’ll start with the songs that remind me of my friend…
QUEENSRYCHE – “I Remember Now”
Seriously, out of all the songs in the world, am I really beginning with a “song” that is just a speaking part of the band’s epic concept album, Operation: Mindcrime??? Amazingly, yes!
If ever there was someone that I would give advanced access to, it would have been Brian. But I kept something under wraps until it launched. However, I did provide a hint that he didn’t get. When I was about to debut a feature called “My Favorite Album” on the site, Brian asked me what the first album was going to be. I told him that I had to keep some things a mystery, and closed the e-mail with “sweet dreams.” On this track, the nurse says, “sweet dreams…you bastard.” When I told him about the clue the following day, we both had a good laugh. He was beating himself up for missing the clue, but cracked up when I told him that I don’t usually say things like “sweet dreams” to another dude.
STONE SOUR – “Unchained”
It was just a regular day. Brian had just heard Stone Sour’s cover of Van Halen’s “Unchained,” and thought of me. He sent me the link and I gave a thumbs up. He replied with… “I didn’t know if you had heard that so I’m like fuck it I’m sending it to AW lol.” Stone Sour has become one of my favorite bands, not just in modern times, but of all-time. I love all of their music, largely because of Corey Taylor, so I responded with one of my favorites…
COREY TAYLOR – “Snuff (live acoustic)”
Often times, when you send something to someone, they put it off until later (if they get to it at all). A few minutes after sending it to Brian, I got an enthusiastic response… “Dude that version of ‘Snuff’ is incredible.” I couldn’t agree more! In fact, it’s been brought to my attention by my children that I play the song too much! My response to them is…“at least you can tell what the song is to tell that I play it a lot!” I shared this story and song with Terra as my contribution to the music played at Brian’s memorial.
GWAR – “Fuck This Place”
From the serious to the sublime. In May of last year, Brian sent me the following message…“Hey homie, you should add ‘Fuck This Place’ by GWAR to Feel Good Friday songs. (Not sure if GWAR is someone you’d want to add, but that is a great ‘leaving work on Friday’ song lol).” You gotta love a guy that thinks of this as a feel-good song. I miss his sense of humor terribly. Knowing about his illness and work history, this one has meaning that goes beyond the title.
WARRANT – “Sure Feels Good To Me”
This was the other song that Brian suggested for Feel Good Friday in his e-mail. I was definitely late to the Warrant bandwagon, but I did become a fan in recent years. Which brings me to the last song…
WARRANT – “The Bitter Pill”
Until I heard the news of Brian’s passing, I had never listened to Warrant’s Dog Eat Dog album. That’s the album that he was going to write about for Hard Rock Daddy. I can see why it was his favorite by the band. It’s got unexpected depth. He never got around to writing about it, but I wish that he did.
It’s appropriate that the album features a song called “The Bitter Pill.” Though it’s about a romantic relationship, the lyrics hit home when I listened to it right after Brian’s passing. His loss is absolutely a bitter pill to swallow for me, and those closest to him…
TERRA BOWMAN (Brian’s wife)…
SWEET – “Ballroom Blitz”
Brian sang it better than the original artist (believe it or not). I, along with many others, looked forward to it when we went to the bar and he did karaoke.
MOTLEY CRUE – “If I Die Tomorrow”
He dedicated it to me.
TESLA – “I Love You”
He dedicated it to me all the time… He always said I saved his life 3 times…the 2 times in the hospital and when we met. I gave him a reason to want to be alive.
KID ROCK – “Blue Jeans and a Rosary”
The song he was singing when I realized I was falling in love with him. No one understood “us” at first. The lines… “She’s happy with a bad seed” and “Happy to be misunderstood” related to me so much.
DARRYL WORLEY – “Family Tree”
The one (and only) time he sang this song was shortly after I found out I was pregnant with our son and he didn’t know. I was completely terrified to tell him. We laughed at it later…Asshole. Lol…
KID ROCK – “All Summer Long”
The song he sang karaoke which caused us to meet… Without this song….I never would’ve had the courage to tell him “good job.”
JOURNEY – “Faithfully”
We danced to this song. There was so much love and emotion in that dance… And I’m forever his….faithfully…
LADY GAGA – “I’ll Never Love Again”
I am so in love with the lyrics and this song. I miss and love you, My Love…so damn much. I’ll never love again.
TIM BOWMAN (Brian’s brother)
RA – “Do You Call My Name?”
An ex and I were driving to a city near where we used to live, listening to the radio and we heard an advertisement for a concert that night at The Machine Shop in Flint, Michigan. It was two bands that (at that point) we had never heard of. One of them was a band called Ra. They were opening for another relatively unknown band called Seether.
The radio station that was putting on the show played “Do You Call My Name?” and I instantly knew that I needed to check out more from them. So we went to the mall and stopped in at FYE. I then did something that I have only ever done three times. I bought the CD based on hearing just one song. We got back in my truck and put the CD in the stereo. After hearing the second song I KNEW right then that Brian would definitely love this band.
I called him and asked him what he was doing that night. Having said what he normally did “sitting around being fat,” I told him that we were going to a concert and that he needed to just trust me. He mentioned being broke and I told him to just shut up because I had him covered. I didn’t mention that it was what the radio station called a “Low Dough Show” and the tix were just 5 bucks.
So we go to the show and we were blown away by Ra. The look on Brian’s face when he heard them let me know that I was right. The guys came out after the show to mingle and sign autographs. Brian and I met all of them and they were just a great bunch of guys.
That show was the first of many that he and I attended at The Machine Shop, but that one will always be the most memorable for me.
RUSH – “Tom Sawyer”
Brian, for the longest time, absolutely HATED the band Rush. But, I kept berating him until he finally gave them a fair chance and found out that he liked a lot more songs than he wanted to admit to.
MURDERDOLLS – “Slit My Wrist”
He bought this album on a whim and brought it over so we could check it out. From the pseudo-classical opening of the first song to hearing Wednesday 13 scream “One Two FUCK YOUUUUUUU,” Brian was flat out hooked on that band. And when Wednesday went solo, my brother and I went with him.
WEDNESDAY 13 – “Bad Things”
Another great memory from The Machine Shop. Brian had gone and got Transylvania 90210 and checked it out. Of course, he tells me to come over and give it a listen.
A couple of weeks later, he tells me that Wednesday will be doing a show at The Machine Shop and tix will be ten bucks so we decide to go. The night of the show, maybe 40 people were there because, at the time, Wednesday wasn’t very well known. He put on a great show, and then, as normally happens at the venue, he came out to hang out with the crowd. He talked to a couple of people then walked by the table where Brian and I were sitting. Brian called him over and for the next 45 minutes he sat there talking about everything about music to us. From what influenced him to where he gets his ideas (he said he gets most of his ideas at breakfast and he “loses so much Captain Crunch it’s ridiculous”) to the places he likes to play, to a couple of stories about his time with the Murderdolls. He was one of the most genuine rock and roll guys we have ever met.
These are just a couple of examples of the normal things that wind up being great memories in the wake of having lost my brother. There are dozens of songs/bands/concerts that I could have mentioned. But those three were the ones that really made me realize just how special those times were (whether or not I recognized them at the time).
KEEGAN M. HURLEY (Brian’s eldest son)
NOTHING MORE – “Fadein / Fadeout”
ATMOSPHERE – “Yesterday”
FOZZY – “Judas”
METALLICA – “Enter Sandman”
NICKELBACK – “Rockstar”
KEITH URBAN – “Stupid Boy”
GODSMACK – “1000hp”
NICKELBACK – “Side Of A Bullet”
OZZY OSBOURNE – “Crazy Train”
AC/DC – “Thunderstruck”
NICKELBACK – “Far Away”
SHELBY VICKERS (Brian’s sister-in-law)
THE FOREST RANGERS & WHITE BUFFALO – “Come Join The Murder”
This song reminds me of Brian because it’s the final scene in Sons Of Anarchy. We bonded over that show (especially that particular scene). So now when I think of that badass scene, I think of Brian and all of our conversations about Sons.
MOTLEY CRUE – “Hooligan’s Holiday”
After lots of complaining (bitching) about Vince Neil leaving Motley Crue, Brian decided he was gonna check and see how horrible the band was with Jon Corabi. Little did he know he would fall in love with this song and drive me crazy with it.
STEELHEART – “Steelheart”
He loved that the singers voice sounded like a siren …crazy range. He introduced me to many artists like these guys, Yngwie Malmsteen, and so many more.
RA – “Do You Call My Name?”
There are so many songs to choose from, but if I really had to pick one, it would be “Do You Call My Name?” We got to see Ra at The Machine Shop a long time ago, but I still remember him introducing this band to me and going to the concert like it was yesterday. Music is truly how we connected and became friends! He will forever be missed and thought of often.
RACHEL SCHLEPER (Brian’s sister-in-law)
SEVEN MARY THREE – “Cumbersome”
I am Brian’s sister-in-law (Tim Bowman’s wifey…Brian used to call me “the wifey” when talking about me to Tim). Brian was an hilarious dude and an excellent conversationalist. After he got sick with GBS, we talked through Facebook messenger when he was able too. He said he was going through therapy and hopes that one day he would be able to walk unencumbered. It made me think of the song “Cumbersome” by Seven Mary Three. His life had definitely become cumbersome, but screw that unencumbered walking, that man can fly now!
WEDNESDAY 13 – “I Walked With A Zombie”
The last time I saw Brian was at one of his favorite spots, The Machine Shop. I was there with Tim and he was there with Terra (of course). We made a special trip from Kentucky to surprise Brian. It was great! While at The Machine Shop, Brian impressed the hell out of me because it didn’t matter to him if he was in a wheel chair or not, he went to the front of the crowd to ask the lead singer of Wednesday 13 a question. I will never forget that! So, here is one of my favorite songs from Wednesday 13, “I Walked With A Zombie.”
ELVIS PRESLEY – “Can’t Help Falling In Love”
When I think of the love that Brian had for Terra, I think of the song “Can’t Help Falling In Love.”
DANNY GOKEY – “I Will Not Say Goodbye”
Brian became one of my best friends after my first best friend, Terra (his wife), met him and started seeing him. He was a true inspiration to me. No matter what he went through, he always came back stronger and happier. He always made sure to make time for every single person in his life. He knew everything about me and always made sure to ask about my life even when I didn’t want to talk about it. He’d invite me over and cook dinner for all of us. We’d all go out together or we’d sit at their home and just talk.
I’ll never forget the day I met him, just as I’ll never forget the last time I saw him. He had one of the best smiles on his face both times. He was such an amazing friend, father, uncle, and husband. He was just one of those people who didn’t care who you were. Once he hooked you with his line, he devoted his life to caring about you.
He always knew how to make people smile, but he was also one of the biggest “assholes” (in the sense that he told it how it is no matter what it might be). He didn’t care if your feelings got hurt because he told the truth and he just had this way of knowing that after you got over whatever feeling may have come, that you’d be talking again in no time. Those types of people are some of the rarest to find, but the best to keep around. He helped me in so many ways, that I never could’ve repaid him for. He will always be one of my best friends. To him, I was always his “second wifey.” No one will ever be able to replace the spot he holds in my heart. No one will ever understand the relationship I got to watch blossom between him and Terra. They both have some thorns, but at the end, the most beautiful rose you ever saw.
The day Terra was collecting money for his cremation, I decided on a whim to buy some scratch off tickets. I don’t have very good luck in winning, but I bought 8 tickets. I got down to my last 2 (with the first 6 being losers). I sat in my car, and out loud, said…“Brian, whatever I win will go to your wife to help for your cremation.” The very next ticket, I won $100!
I know that Brian is physically gone, but I also know he’ll never fully leave any of us. He’s watching us grow. He’s watching us grieve for him (and being pissed off, telling us to suck it up). He’s here in our hearts and in our memories. He’ll never leave. To my best friend, I love you. I will see you again. But this is not goodbye. (Which is why I chose this song).
Brian, my friend, I hope that you’re rocking out to this tribute in heaven. You were one-of-a-kind. Thank you for being one of the most supportive people that I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. Whenever I launch a new feature on Hard Rock Daddy, I’ll think of you and wonder what you would have thought of it. Knowing you, I’m sure that you would have been as excited as me…maybe more.
Rock In Peace my brother. This playlist is for you…