It is with a deeply wounding sense of loss and grief that I report the passing of my friend Gary Primich. Details are sketchy but his website will remain up with details concerning his funeral and whatever memorials and tributes that I am sure are to follow. All I know today is that Gary was dog sitting for his ex-wife over the weekend, and when she returned this morning she found him dead.
I have a hard time putting into words what Gary meant to me, both professionally and personally. I was honored to play on 3 of his CD's, playing what I consider to be my very personal best blues ensemble work ever. His playing was always a wonder to behold, either recorded or live on stage, being able to intuitively recreate everything good that there was about the blues harp; a major feat when you think about how degraded the instrument had become in the wake of the Blues Brothers and Bruce Willis and similar ilk found clogging the lists of blues jams worldwide. Far more than a simple mimic, he was able to balance the public desire of familiarity by mastering the styles of the greats, yet all the while forming and then setting his own unique sound.
Additionally, he was the best country blues straight harpist that I ever encountered, period. And his work on several Steve James CD's, that I had the great fortune to be on as well, rank up there as the best music I've ever been a part of.
Truth is, the last few years had been mighty rough for Gary. It would be a cheap blues cliche' to say that he was tortured by inner demons, but the rumors that he had fallen into a nasty drug habit had turned out to be shockingly true. A divorce soon followed as did a downturn in his music career. I got him on the phone last year when I heard that he had a successful stint in rehab, and let him know that I would play with him anywhere, anytime if he ever needed a bassist. He seemed genuinely surprised, "You'd play with me?" he asked, as if he didn't think his music worthy. Such was the man.
Not but 2 months ago, guitarist and band leader Steve James was back off the road and I was going out for a bit myself. We sat down at his place, cracked open a bottle and listened to those records again, marveling at every single moment of his playing. We both agreed at how lucky we were to be able to make music at that level, and how he made us sound very good indeed. We both made note to call him just to see how he was doing, and we both did, though he never called back.
Needless to say I am really furious at his exit.
Do yourself a big favor, and get you a Gary Primich CD like Travelin' Mood or Mr. Freeze or anything with Steve James, so that you too can recognize the sense of loss that we who knew him all have now.
"The Travis County Medical Examiner’s office has yet to release a cause of death pending toxicology tests, but Gary Primich’s ex-wife Tina Rosenzwieg, who found the body, said a drug overdose is suspected."