BABY WAS A SINNER: A TRIBUTE TO CHAD HANKS OF AMERICAN HEAD CHARGE
A great man was lost to the depths today; he was a talented musician, an intelligent nihilist, and all around good person. He was an avid fan of the band KISS, a sushi aficionado, a Ren & Stimpy fan, a dog lover, and he enjoyed the Mass Effect trilogy. And certainly not least of all he loved his mother with all his heart.
His name was Chad Hanks and he was a very good friend of mine.
Normally I’m also pretty indifferent to death. I’ve always been of the belief, a belief he and I shared, that we’re all pretty insignificant and there’s really nothing waiting for us at the end, that it is up to us to make our own meaning while we are alive.
Chad’s passing is different. I have not had to cope with the loss of a close friend since my time in the military, and it was under very different circumstances. With this, I’m having a hard time putting into words how much this man meant to me.
When you’re a musician, you don’t see many of your closest friends very often. One of the things you sign up for right at the beginning, is the understanding that you’re going to be isolated from those you care about. In the last years of his life, we didn’t speak very often. Not because we’d fallen out of touch, but because we were both busy. While we didn’t speak as often as we once did (or should have), we were both of the mindset that you can be far away from someone and still be able to talk like no time had passed when you finally found the time to talk or see one another again.
This man was my friend; we’ve slept at one another’s house, we’ve shared booze (the man didn’t take no for an answer), and we had what can only be called a shared life of classic mirth. He inspired me to find my own meaning in life
Along with being a co-founder of one of the most off-the-wall metal bands of our time and a great inspiration to me, Chad also was a teacher; he taught at the Minneapolis School of Rock, where he inspired kids to be the musicians of today and tomorrow. And these kids could not have had a better teacher, Chad, the poster child of perseverance, himself a musician since his childhood, was a phenomenal educator.
Like many musicians, Chad wasn’t without his demons. While he found intermittent solace in life’s indulgences, his fight was better fought with his inhalation of music and the support of his loved ones.
In the months leading up to his passing, Chad had been in the hospital many times, due to Hepatorenal Syndrome, a disease that causes the failure of the liver and kidneys. This disease is very difficult to fight, and in the end, Chad’s life was cut short from it.
In the early hours of November 12th, 2017, Chad succumbed to his illness. He passed away as comfortably as possible, surrounded by his bandmates and loved ones.
Like everyone else who knew him, it has been very difficult for me to process the loss of such a good person. If you didn’t know him, he was the most personable guy; he treated everyone like family and that was the very foundation of his charm.
One of the fondest memories I have of him, was the time my girlfriend and I were attempting to fall asleep on his couch after a show at 1st Ave. He had just wrapped up a romp in the sheets and came out to get some orange juice from the kitchen. We made some jokes about how his ass must hurt and I’ll never forget what he said to us, he said “You know, I’ve got some serious stuff you’d probably like. If you want, you can take a couple donkey dongs with you when you leave.”
And that was Chad. A full- time joker, but also a very giving person, even when it came to sex toys. He always told it like it was and he never backed down from a challenge (even if that challenge was donkey dongs).
Today, my life is lessened at the loss of this man but it will always have been made better for having met him. Despite his human imperfections, he was an inspiration to many, a friend to many more, and someone that will always be remembered for their kind heart, giving spirit, and infectious personality.
In true musician’s fashion, a memorial will be held at 1st Avenue in Minneapolis on November 26th, where bands that were close to him will play. Friends from all over the nation will be there to remember him as we knew him and to celebrate his life they way he would want us to, by partying like there’s no tomorrow.
My thoughts go out to his mother, his loved ones, and his band. If I’m here in Milwaukee, crying my eyes out, I can’t imagine what they’re going through.
Like I said, normally I’m pretty nihilistic about stuff like this, but today it’s different. Chad made it different.
Today it’s different because today I begin a life without him in it.
God dammit, Chad, you will be missed. You lived a life of great fiction and you died a death of great truth.
Written by Hobbes Caltous for Bloodrock Media on November 12, 2017