If you never knew Chris Gaffney, I’m not sure that this little eulogy is going to help any. To tell the truth, I didn’t know Chris very well—at least, as well as others—or for very long. But the memories I have of him are just as good as any…and they feel good writing them down.

I met Chris while playing in what was to become the Hacienda Brothers. Born from an “all-star” band of sorts, the early version of the Hacienda Brothers featured Chris Gaffney, Dave Gonzales, and Teddy Morgan. We had a lot of trouble settling on a name. Chris’s suggestion? The Axis of Evil. Perfect. I think up until the day he died Chris was a little disappointed that name didn’t get picked.

Chris was always a lot of fun, even when he wasn’t. He loved music but hated being in the studio. I like to think that listening to that first record I can hear the difference between the first takes—when he still wanted to be there—versus anything later. Chris was the kind of guy to wear his heart on his sleeve, no matter what shape it was in. 

I had a lot of fun talking with Chris on the road. He would tell me completely random stories about his boxing career or his war career or his music career; stories that, looking back, make me realize that it’s surprising this is the first time Chris has died. He’s lived enough lives to have done it a few times, at least. 

One of the sweetest and most meaningful things ever said to me was from him. “Richard,” he said, “I know I’m not your real grandfather but if it’s okay with you I’d like to be your musical grand-dad.”

“You can’t be my grandfather,” I said. “You’re the same age as my dad.”

“Well,” he said. “We’ll work something out.”