‘So close no matter how far/Couldn't be much more from the heart/Forever trusting who we are/And nothing else matters.’
Famous lyrics penned and performed countless times over the years by thrash icons Metallica – the favourite band of a dear friend to me who sadly passed this month and the man who set me on the road to rock and metal music – my gateway friend and my oracle for things music.
Listening to the track tonight brings memories flooding back of my great pal Iain ‘Crawfie’ Crawford and the words seem to ring more personally in his honour.
Taken at just 39 the only conclusion I can make is things were too quiet beyond the Pearly Gates and Lemmy, Kurt and Cliff Burton were needed another hellraising rock lover to liven up the party in the moshpit in the sky.
Crawfie will do that and so much more.
Saying goodbye to him this week was accompanied by a dark cloud of all enveloping grief, disbelief and anger. I’ve spent the past two-weeks immersed in memories of my dear friend via photographs taken and collected over the years, invariably shot at either at rock shows or festivals at Donington Park and also extensively through the music which first bonded us.
Immersed in memories I recall my first meetings as a literal new kid on the block in our home town of Stornoway and Crawfie, three years my elder, as a 13-year-old he was in my mind instantly cooler and wiser.
I recall him asking me if I liked rock music and nervously admitting my Mum had bought me Now That’s What I Call Music 24 on double cassettea few months before.
Well, he looked at me in disgust and immediately shooed me towards his house where he thumbed his way through the biggest pile of CDs I’d ever seen. Within seconds he had four CDs in his grip which he thrust towards me. I can still picture his face when he handed them over, warning me he wanted them back soon but to listen to them all.
Rancid – Let’s Go; Skin – Skin; The Wildhearts – Earth Vs; Metallica – Live Shit: Binge & Purge boxset were the selections he chose to introduce me to the rock n’ roll family.
It was an eye, or more likely an ear, opening experience and one which changed my life forever. It is incredible to think that what has become a huge part of my life, both personally and professionally where as a working journalist I have travelled Europe to cover rock shows, festivals and to interview bands, can be traced back to one moment, to one incredibly kind and decent man, taking pity on a teenager outside the local shop.
Crawfie was that kind of man. A good, honest man, a great friend and the biggest lover of rock music I’ve ever known. He was a connoisseur of metal and to the very end he was always suggesting different bands and artists to me.
I feel eternally blessed to have grown so close to Crawfie, a man who was part big brother, part best friend, and to have a head and a heart full of memories on the road tailing the bands we loved and on the hallowed turf of Donington Park almost every summer.
In my 10-trips to Download, Crawfie was with me for eight of those and it was the weekend of the year he looked forward to most – no question of a doubt.
Every year he reserved the two middle weeks of June off to make his annual pilgrimage south to East Midlands. Without fail come July/August-time every summer he would be on the phone making plans for the year ahead.
He never tired of reminding me when I called him excited from interviewing a band I had grown to love that it was him who turned me onto rock music in the first place.
It was a running joke with him demanding I be grateful as he grinned and laughed mischievously. I am grateful to Crawfie for that day, for the four CD’s but most of all I am grateful for Crawfie’s friendship, for 20+ years where he led me down the rebel’s walk to the soundtrack of the band’s we all love.
Everyone who enjoys all kinds and genres of music will have someone who first steered them towards what has become their musical love. We should all be grateful to them
I think it is impossible for anybody to appreciate or comprehend the love they have for a friend until we lose them. We assume they will always be there, there will always be time to do this or to say that, but sometimes there isn’t.
To borrow a line from Smokey Robinson: ‘I’ll miss you my buddy/I’ll miss you my friend/I promise my love for you will never end.’
Thirty nine years is all Crawfie got but in that time he touched more people’s hearts than most do in a lifetime.