In dedication to the memory of my long time friend Fred “Freak” Smith (R.I.P.) of Washington D.C.’s pioneering post-hardcore band Beefeater and leading goth band Strange Boutique, and of L.A,’s controversial “ghetto metal” band Blaxmyth and cutting-edge sludgy dark/doom/nu-metal meets gothic punk-metal crossover band American Corpse Flower, whom passed away on Aug. 8th, 2017 at the age of 55, sadly after being stabbed by an unknown assailant in Las Palmas Park in San Fernando, CA.
I am deeply hurt, troubled and angered by this news, and to also discover that apparently in recent years he had largely receeded from the music scene, had been having some depression or mental health issues and had “fallen through the cracks” of the mental health system, and had been living in a recovery home for people with such afflictions… from which, as of just lately, he had departed from and had been living instead in parts unknown for the last couple of months, possibly even in motels, couch surfing or in parks for apparently all anyone seems know. And this is especially upsetting because he was one of the nicest, most humble, helpful and empathetic friends that I ever had the honor of knowing, and thus I am sure that he did not deserve the hand or the demise that he was dealt. 🙁 😒 😤
Fred, or “Freak” as most of us knew him by and that he referred to himself as (having actually legally changed his name to as well), had a burning passion and drive for being a musician, for being an integral part of the music scene and for perpetuating it to thrive, and for being a non-conformist individual and “flying his freak flag” more so than most others.
It’s true that some people might have occasionally perceived him as coming off as a bit brash or coarse from time to time, but a lot of that stemmed from the fact that he was a very smart, deep-thinking, talented and often emotionally driven person whom also held his ground steadfast when it came to his opinions, beliefs, morals, ethics, values, standards, interests, likes and dislikes, etc.. And this is not to mention that in order to really get anywhere in the music scene in regard to earning respect from industry types and other musicians, etc., and also in regard to giving potential fans a taste of the “rock star” image that attracts them to begin with, that there is also a bit of an unspoken prerequisite to display a bit of prideful braggadocio and swagger to some degree… let’s just face it, “dude”. 😉 🤙 🤘
But in all actuality Freak’s true inner nature, which also generally came across to people pretty clearly right away as well, was nonetheless that of a very well-intentioned, compassionate, generous and kind-hearted type of guy that never really asked for much, never really complained about his problems in life much, and that would gladly give you the shirt off of his back… quite literally. In fact, he had a unique charm about him which ultimately tended to win over just about everyone that he ever crossed paths with and always made people smile, especially when he so often addressed them with his trademark slogan; “Fucckkkerrrrr !”, which as Danny Baraz so accurately described was Freak’s own way of saying “hello,” “goodbye,” “good job,” “I like that song” and “I love you,” among many other things… and for which we all knew and adored him for. 😜 😀 👍
I initially met “Freak” more than 20 years ago, back around the time when he first moved to L.A. in the early ’90’s. Being a couple of musically diverse and eclectic type of musicians that both came from the early punk and goth scenes and also had a devout interest in the various genres of metal, and whom both had fiery, extroverted personalities and a taste for over-the-top showmanship and eccentric fashion choices, we naturally gravitated towards each other and immediately.became friends. Then, shortly thereafter, in the mid ’90’s he got me a job working with him as a sales rep in the business ads department of the Recycler classified newspaper (the paper which helped launch the careers of many L.A. bands like G’N’R, Metallica and Motley Crue), where he was the lead salesman and was one of the best that publication ever had, and was a job that he held for a long time at a work place where he was valued, respected and was well known for as well. And later he was also instrumental in getting me a job as a photographer for their partner publication called Auto Buys, where I worked my own way up to being the lead photographer, and which was the best job that I ever had in terms of it having paid the best, been very flexible regarding setting my own work schedule and taking vacation time away, and was the most fun job too… and for which I was never able to thank him enough.
And he would always take interest in what I was doing musically and encourage me in my endeavors and pursuits, and periodically come to see me perform and commend and exalt me in person and also when speaking of me to others as well… an admiration for which I was always humbly honored by. 😊
Hence between working together for about five years where we saw each other more less daily, and hanging out at the same shows, etc. we thus became very familiar with one another and formed a solid bond of friendship throughout the 1990’s. And after I left the Recycler & Auto Buys in 1999 I still frequently saw him at shows, or we would occasionally check each other out performing somewhere, or chat on the phone occasionally, etc… and that went on for several years in to the 2000’s. But unfortunately, after about mid way in to the new decade I just simply didn’t see a whole lot of Freak very often anymore for the next ten or more years or so. I mean we would still run in to each other here and there at gigs, rehearsal spaces or parties on rare occasion, and we would very rarely still talk on the phone or online from time to time, but sadly we just never really hung out too often anymore, and for no actual known reason either… other than I suppose that we were just both “off in our own worlds and doing our own things”. :/
And most regrettably we never did get around to collaborating on any music together either…but hopefully we will finally get to jam together someday in the great ever-after… 🎤🎸🥁
…we better man, ‘cuz I love you bro… can you hear me “fucckkkerrrrr” ?!!! 😜 🤘
But in the meantime I will miss him greatly and always cherish our friendship and his memory… :'(
Goodbye my friend, I’m so sorry that we didn’t have more time together, and also that it ended this way… I’ll see you soon enough though. 😇
May He Rest In Peace… And May We Meet Again Someday And Feast Together In The Halls Of Our Ancestors. 🙏