by Thomas Pace on February 5, 2013

This Thursday a good portion of the Chicago music community and its supporters will come together at Lincoln Hall for the first annual DANSTOCK music fest. Aptly named for its founder Dan Stock, DANSTOCK (get it?), is a fundraising event for the Robert H. Lurie Cancer Research Center. And while the money goes to fund cancer research, I think I speak for many when I say that I will be there to honor our good friend Dan.

I met Dan about twelve years ago through the good people at Uptown Recording. Uptown had just made the big move from basement studio to grade-A commercial recording facility and was still growing into its new building when Dan came in to do a record and basically never left. A talented musician, he soon proved that he was every bit the artist behind the mixing board as well and quickly built a name for himself as a producer with a gift for getting the most out of the bands he recorded (including DeXter, a band I play bass in). After a session with Dan you felt like he was an honorary member of your band.

While over the years Dan and I were always staunch supporters of each other artistically, I’ve also been lucky enough to have collaborated with him a number of times including a brief stint when he played keyboards in a band I fronted called RUSK, and “Friend or Foe,” a student film of Dan’s for which I wrote the script and acted. Dan engineered and recorded the song “Life in One Day” from my first solo Cd “Walking Distance” and took the pictures for the graphic art of my third Cd “Electrocaine.” He is one of the few people I talk to without filter or fear of judgment. His input and advice have been an integral part of my creative process for a decade.

If you ever met Dan Stock you would almost certainly remember him. If not for the long wavy mane of hair that grew from his head as if trying desperately to escape, or the beard that grew with similar design, then for the contagious energy that he radiates like heat from the sun. If you ever had the good fortune to see him perform with his rock trio BRUSIER, with his Les Paul slung low and double stack attack, the way he jumps and screams from the stage, you would know, as I do, that Dan is truly a star and a sight to behold.

I guess it was about six or seven years ago when Dan first developed cancer. Melanoma. It was a strip of skin on his back that the doctors made short work of and for a long time it seemed like an isolated episode and was soon all but forgotten. Dan moved on.  He and his wife had a beautiful daughter, Charlie, and he added devoted stay-at-home-dad to the long list of the hats that he wears. Being a stay-at-home-dad myself, Dan and I seemed to find comfort in our commonalities and for the last four years or so Dan and I met for breakfast every Friday. It was often the only social event in my calendar for the week and I found that I started looking forward to it as early as Tuesday. We spoke of everything. From art to politics, sports to our childhoods.

It was also right around then that the cancer came back. A lesion on his brain. Then a tumor in his leg. Then a tumor in his back. Each time he would be treated and seemed to return to his normal self only to learn shortly there after that the cancer had returned and that more treatment was necessary.

This cycle played it self out I don’t know how many times. It was impossible to tell because throughout his battle Dan has kept his cards very close to his vest. He never complained. He got his work done at the studio producing bands and doing much of his finest work. He continued to pursue music and recently started writing music for a new project. To see Dan, you would never know, but the cancer was winning. In the last few months Dan was unable to make more and more of our Friday breakfasts due to his treatments and the absolutely brutal toll they took on his physical being. But Dan is a warrior and warriors fight.

When we got the news that there is no more that doctors can do for Dan and that it’s time to concentrate living the little time he had left, those who know him were devastated. But not Dan.

Since being released from the hospital into hospice care, Dan called on his friends to help organize DANSTOCK (thank you Dennys and O’Conors and everyone else). An event, not to raise money for himself or his family, they are going to be alright, but to raise money for those who did so much for him when he needed it most, the Robert H. Lurie Cancer Research Center. That is just Dan’s style.

There are a lot of things that people may not know about Dan.

He is an avid and capable cyclist.

He is not only a great guitarist and songwriter but a classically trained pianist (among other musical talents).

He can throw a baseball harder than anyone you know.

He is incredibly smart and an amazingly quick study. He learns with remarkable ease.

He is self-motivated. No one has ever had to tell Dan to get his work done much less do it for him and his work always gets done.

He takes himself seriously.

He’s a neat freak.

He hates onions.

He has faced death the same way he lived his life, with purpose and without regret. In his too short life, Dan has lived the value of a hundred years or more. I am only sorry that the world will not benefit from his being among us for forty more years. The man is a rare gem.

Last week I had a visit with Dan at his apartment and while I was there he was meeting with his hospice nurse. They were discussing the dosage of pain medication dispensed by a machine to which Dan is constantly connected. Dan was asking that the dose be lowered because, while it helped with the pain, it was fogging up his head and he wanted to be able to think clearly. The nurse was agreeable and while she programmed the machine to give a lower dose she remarked that it was the first time she had ever programmed a lower dose in a situation like Dan’s. She said that normally people in his position only ever need the dosage increased.

That is Dan in a snapshot. There is no one else like him. No one.

So buy a ticket to DANSTOCK. Help us help the Robert Lurie Center fight cancer. But more importantly, join us to show our respects to a great man that leads by example and follows no one and left a wake of inspiration behind him. A man that showed us how to live, as well as how to die.

We love you Dan.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: