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IN Memory Of
Rob Fried

Rob Fried 1951-2006 - Live at Camp Creek July 2002, Pictue by Ed Hall - Click Here for More Pix.

Master drummer Rob Fried died of heart failure on Sept. 8 at the Mclean Home in Simsbury at the age of 55.

The long-time Simsbury resident had been recently diagnosed at Brigham and Womens Hospital in Boston with an extremely rare blood disease.

Battling deep depression following the diagnosis, Fried suffered a heart attack two weeks ago and was treated at Hartford Hospital before being transferred to McLean where his condition rapidly worsened.

Fried was best known for his work with the Collinsville-based Max Creek, a group he joined in 1979 and toured and recorded extensively with until 2004.

Although primarily a percussionist, it was not uncommon for Fried to play drums as the band often featured a dual-drum set-up similar to such influential contemporaries the Grateful Dead and Allman Brothers Band.

Fried's colorful style stands out on each of the five Max Creek Albums he was part of, beginning with Rainbow (1980) and subsequent releases Drink The Stars (1982), Windows (1986), MCMXC (1990) and Spring Water (1998).

"Rob was undoubtedly one of the most emotional people you could ever find", said Max Creek keyboardist Mark Mercier. "He played emotionally and he brought a tremendous sense of energy to the music -- energy and color."

Known for their extended, improvisational jams, Max Creek and Fried proved a perfect match, especially on stage, according to Mercier who along with bassist John Rider and guitarist Scott Murawski have spent more than 30
years playing together in Max Creek. "There would be times when Rob would come out with some color that would be perfect for the occasion and we would all turn around and just look at him,"he said.

Despite playing the brunt of his career in the San Francisco-styled Max Creek and later doing stints with such jazz-blues based outfit as Gregg Piccolo and Heavy Juice and eclectic spoken word artist Frank Messina's Octopoet,Fried was heavily influenced by such renowned master drummers as Nigerian Babatunde Olatunji and Brazilian Airto Moreira along with studio greats Steve Gadd and Jim Keltner and Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead.

Twin brother Gary Fried noted that his brother also counted Ringo Starr as an inspiration. "Ringo Starr was a simple player, but he could really accent things", Gary Fried said. Most drummers, they're just into chops, but dont'have any taste. It all gets very tired if you dont put any human element into it."

Born in Englewood, N.J, on July 15, 1951, Fried and his family moved to Simsbury in 1959. In 1969, the Fried brothers were part of the first graduating class at the new Simsbury High School, but Rob opted not to go to college, instead focusing on drumming as he played in a number of rock and soul bands.

Largely a self-taught drummer, Fried did a short stint at the Hartford Conservatory in the 1970s, but was more comfortable playing on stage or in the studio, according to many who played with him over the years.

"Every time he played with us, he took it to the limit", said
guitarist Burt Teague of Granby who met Fried in 1969 and remained close friends and a musical collaborator for nearly three decades, most recently as part of the Burt Teague Group and a handful of studio projects the duo were involved with.

"There was never a time when Rob was slouching", said Teague. "He was the consummate musician. Every time we played, he took the band to another level."

Fried' last sessions are due to be released this fall on An Edward Hopper Dream by acclaimed singer/guitarist Steve Vozzolo. Teague, who was involved in the sessions, says the CD is reminiscent of 1970s-era Steely Dan due to
the caliber of musicianship.

Fried's love of drumming went retail when as he ran his own specialty store, The Rhythm Shop, in Simsbury, for nearly eight years.

Known for his elaborate stage setup, often with dozens drums and percussion pieces, Fried could always be easily identified in a club or hall thanks to his trademark Panama hat, Hawaiian shirt and dark glasses, yet it was his
sincerity that endeared him to so many fans.

"He was one of the most welcoming and friendly people you would ever find",said Mercier. "He was made more friends at Max Creek shows than anyone" (in the band).

Be it fans or fellow musicians, Fried's gentle personality and dedication to the music was often the foundation of many of his friendships. Long-time friend Tina Weymouth, then the bassist with the Talking Heads, introduced Fried to the Heads percussionist Steve Scales and the two remained close for
nearly 20 years. He also enjoyed a long friendship with Allman Brothers drummer Jaimoe and Richie Hayward of Little Feat.

"He had huge friends in high places", said Mercier. He remembered them and they remembered him.

Fried and Max Creek parted ways in December 2004 due to artistic differences, but Mercier admitted he hoped for a future reunion.

"I always hoped that we would get back together", he said. "There was just no way it could happen at the time, but we never considered him gone from the band."

A day after Fried's passing, Max Creek played a concert in Pulaski, New York, an evening that Mercier said was very moving.

"Its a very emotional period of time for us now, he said. Its like being in a family with a long-lost brother, you always thought of him as a member of the family. There was no question that we loved Rob."

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