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Jahn Xavier Remembers The Late Guitarist Adam Roth

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Photo by Neville Elder, May 2012. Adam Roth singing lead, also left to right Arno Hecht, Scott Kitchen, Jahn Xavier, Charles Roth and Doug Wygal behind the drums

 

(My good friend Jahn Xavier allowed rock nyc to repost this remembrance of his “soul Brother”, legendary guitarist Adam Roth, who passed last night after a heroic battle with cancer -IL)

I last saw my friend Adam Roth on Wednesday, December 2nd, exactly two weeks before he passed. Our brother George Gilmore was there too, and the three of us got to sit together for a few hours (with Adam’s wonderful friend Eileen, who was there as well.)

The night before, Charly had warned me that Adam was quite thin, and that since he was so heavily medicated there was a chance that he might not be lucid during my visit. I was prepared for the worst, but on that day he was fairly sharp and in good spirits for most of the time. We reminisced about gigs we’d played together, and when we met (I remember it being at CBGB, he remembers it being at The Rat in Boston. We both agree that it was 1978.) We made fun of other musicians, as always, and lauded some of our favorites (hey, Arno Hecht, you were in there!) I told him again that he has been my favorite guitarist in NYC since I first saw him play, and he knew it was absolutely true, because I’d been telling him that for 35 years – he knew it was not mere kindness. (Lesson: always tell those you love and admire about it RIGHT NOW.)

There was much sadness too. I was there as a doctor reiterated that his care was now palliative, that they were merely treating the symptoms to keep him comfortable, and that other treatments were useless. We talked of our shared love for his brother Charles. We listened to him. We stifled the urge to complete his sentences when he struggled for words, lest we get it wrong. We held hands and cried with him as he talked about his sorrow at leaving his son Charlie Ringo.  We all knew. We all knew. Eventually, the pain meds kicked in and he grew tired, so it was time for me to leave. For the only time that day, we lied to each other. At the exact same moment, we both said “I’ll see you again soon, my brother.” I knew that was goodbye for us. I walked out into the rain on York Avenue and cried all the way to Lexington, saying my preliminary goodbyes, thinking of many great moments spent with my friend. These last moments were not among the best, but they were true, and good. I was glad that we got to connect one more time.

I will always love you, my dear, talented, funny, soulful brother. You’re a part of me now, part of the heart of so many of us.
I will always remember that midnight on Houston Street when you cried tears of joy to see me alive and well after my struggles; it showed me how much you truly cared for me, and gave me hope when I needed it most. Thank you for being such a damn good friend. And for being so goddamned funny.

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