music friday: drummers
five years (2019-2023)

danny kustow

Danny Kustow died a few days ago. He was best known as the guitarist for the original Tom Robinson Band.

I wrote this back in 2006 ... it's worth checking out the entire post, there's some good tidbits in there ... but here is the part that references Kustow in particular, lightly edited:

The Tom Robinson Band was coming to town, we were big fans, he was playing somewhere semi-large in the City, but he was playing in a dinky club in Davis before he got to San Fran, so we decided to see him there. Our friend Claire said she could get us backstage. I came prepared ... I made a big sign that read "Danny Kustow is God" and took it to the show. We set up right near the stage on the side Kustow would be playing, and it's safe to say the band was delighted to have such a big fan in such a dinky club, because for probably the only time in my life, then, now, or in the future, the band played to me ... that is, I was identified as the biggest fan in the crowd, so I got a lot of the "let's interact with the audience by looking his way" stuff.

And when the show was over, Claire escorted me backstage ... and if the club was dinky, you can imagine what the dressing room was like. It was, to be perfectly honest, not much more than a closet. A closet with four people stuffed inside of it. Five, once I entered.

The band was v.nice ... they all autographed my sign ... to this day it's the only time I got to go backstage.

Looking back, trying to identify why Kustow made such an impression on me. I was under the spell of punk rock, where great musicianship was almost in bad taste. The great punk guitarists tended towards minimalism, or followed the creatively chaotic playing of Johnny Thunders. Kustow was different ... he had the kind of chops that would have served him well in a traditional classic rock band, but his playing also had an audible snarl that was perfect for the music TRB were making. As Joe Strummer said of Mick Jones in "Complete Control", "You're my guitar hero!"

Robinson gave a beautiful tribute at Danny's funeral ... not sure this link works properly, but a transcript was posted on Facebook. Meanwhile, thank you Danny. Here is one of many highlights from those days:

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