I always liked to joke with Greg that he was the best Craigslist find ever! Back in 2005/06, my drummer in Galveston got the “Causeway Dysfunction Syndrome” (where the person refuses to leave the island). Late the day of gig I found Greg on Craigslist looking for work, and I called him. I said, “can you play these four beats” (4/4, 2/4, rock ballad, and blues shuffle), he said “yeah, I think so”….him being modest as usual. The man could play anything!
From that night on he, Tom Rodgers and I played many a gig, and recorded two albums @ Sugar Hill, “Trained Professionals” & “Neverchange”. During the second album we added Tommy to our line-up becoming a four piece. Then Ike came along and ruined Galveston for gigging for a while.
Vince Hiller took over the bass spot and we rocked many more gigs, and hosted several Jam nights, at Whispering Pines and B&S Joint….It was during the hosting of the jams that the “legend” of Greg Babineaux began to spread. Jammers came because he was gonna be there on drums. They could throw any song at him and he’d play the parts dead on. The Police “Message in a Bottle”? No Problem. Zepplin’s “The Ocean”? Just like the record.
Tommy and Vince moved on, and we played about a year with Bruce Sallee on bass. Then I had my car wreck, breaking my pelvis and my left thumb. I was in a wheelchair/walker/cane for about 6 months. Greg had to keep playing, and put out feelers with some of the folks he’d met jamming. Who of course were delighted he was on the market!!
I never have quite recovered to the same number of bookings since the accident, and though he often played for me (I just had to catch him far enough in advance!) he was often with Kelly Chambers, Danny Sparks, Edison Freeman, Sherry Sarno, and many others.
Greg was a treasure band mate. Dependable, Sober (a blessing in a drummer), Engaged, with an extreme desire for the music to be done right. He came from a different genre of music than mine when he joined, and he put in the time researching the artists that I was doing, and learning my originals. And, those originals he made better with his playing. No wasted time in the studio, and he was like a metronome. Engineers would remark on how few beats of his they had to correct.
After I recovered enough to start gigging again, the great Ed Starkey played a couple dozen gigs, and then Greg and I met Guy Schwartz (though technically I had met him twice in years before). We gigged furiously, and recorded two more albums, “Weed at Walmart” & “Billy Bourbon Rocks” at Bong Island Sound, with Guy as producer on both…
We were booked Saturday night with Greg, and when he didn’t show, and didn’t respond to calls or texts I became very worried. Sunday I put in the missing person’s report, and my worst fears were realized.
Did I mention Greg’s other artistic endeavors? He was a painter, with many works hanging around Houston. I have three myself. One I commissioned for the cover of the “Neverchange” album, one I traded for some Microphones, the other for some drum equipment. I will treasure them forever…
Greg’s other passion was as a first-time author, and he was on the cusp of publishing his first book. It is my fervent wish that his family will be able publish it. I would volunteer to help with that.
There is so much more to Greg Babineaux than I have written here, as you can see by how many people have commented on him. He touched people’s lives. He took the time to talk with folks.
It’s funny when you’re in a band with someone for a long time. You spend a lot of time together, but often its only on stage, and before/after gigs. But your personal lives are separate. So, you know them well, and you don’t know them at all. When I was filing the MP report and the police were asking me questions, I felt kinda stupid. I knew he had relatives, but I didn’t know names. Hell, I didn’t even know his address. I just knew where his house was, and I looked it up on google earth while I was on the phone!
Guy and I have had a saying for the drummers that have filled-in in Greg’s absence, What’s wrong this drummer? “Not a damn thing, he’s just not Greg Babineaux”. I’m afraid that’s a feeling that’s gonna last.