It Feels Like Losing a Friend

Famous people die, because people die, and famous people are people.

Some deaths do cut deeper, though. As a music fan, I felt the losses of 2016 — David Bowie, Prince (PRINCE!), Leonard Cohen — very deeply.

Dave Rosser wasn’t FAMOUS, but he was a well-known musician, and he played with my favorite artist, Greg Dulli. Dave was the guitarist for Twilight Singers, Gutter Twins, and Afghan Whigs, among others. He was respected by his fellow musicians, and out-and-out loved by fans.

The first time I saw Afghan Whigs was in Pittsburgh, at Mr. Smalls. The band is extremely accessible, usually coming out after shows to mingle with fans, sign CDs or posters or setlists, and chatting with anyone still hanging around. I took pictures (that I can’t find now!) with John Skibic, the other guitarist for the band, and Dave. I think I have one with Rick Nelson, too. And of course, the pictures I took with John Curley and Dulli.

(If you do visit the blog post from 2014, Mr. Rosser is off to the right of Mr. Dulli in two of those images.)

Then, when I went to Cincinnati last year, I chatted with Dave again. I expressed surprise that he sang baritone on a couple of songs. “Oh, I love singing those low notes!” he exclaimed. “It’s my natural range.”

Dave and Diane
Dave, Diane, and the red hat (Cincinnati, 2016).

Last year, the band announced that Dave had been diagnosed with inoperable colon cancer; there were fundraisers and benefit shows, and an outpouring of love and support. The Afghan Whigs recorded a new album, and announced new tours. Dave played on the album — check out the guitar on Copernicus — but didn’t join the group on stage for the tour.

Still, I think I expected to see him again. When I bought my VIP ticket to the Cincinnati show later this year, I imagined being able to give him a hug, ask how he was feeling, tell him it is good to see him.

I won’t get to do that now. And that sucks.

Reading through stories from fellow fans, one theme is prevalent: Dave was easy-going. He was down to earth. He was strikingly friendly, easily starting conversations, making people comfortable. I mean, he tore it up on stage, pouring all of his talent out on us. But down on the floor, mingling with the audience, he was just a guy, doing his thing.

I’m not sure what else to say. When the news broke on Wednesday, I wanted to pack it in, go home, and listen to Twilight Singers for the rest of the day. I texted my husband, “Hi, I know this won’t mean much to you, but Dave Rosser died. He was the guitarist for Afghan Whigs.”

My husband surprised me, though. “That SUCKS!” he texted right back. “I’m sorry. In spite of my teasing, I really thought they were a tight band, and I really enjoyed the show we went to together.” Dan and I may not have the same taste in music, but we can recognize talent.

His text continued, “I remember two years ago, when BB King died, I felt like I lost a friend. I suppose that’s the way it is with the artwork of those who touch us, and inspire us, and reach us in that solitary place deep inside.”

He captured it, utterly. Dave was someone I had met — someone I had liked — and chatted with. He was a vital part of music that I love. I cannot imagine how much deeper his close friends and family and bandmates must be hurting. And I hurt for that, too.

Rest in peace, Mr. Rosser. You will be missed here. Thank you for your music, your ease, your smile. I hope you know how much you meant to so many people. Go in love and light.

Rosser on stage.
Image by Janet Elizabeth. Thank you for sharing.

10 thoughts on “It Feels Like Losing a Friend

  1. We don’t always get to choose what artistic voice speaks to us. Their passing affects us because we are losing something, a part of our lives that can often be difficult to define.

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