Sunday, August 24, 2008

It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right, I hope you had the time of your life

There was an apocryphal story making the rounds of the recording studio community here in L.A. in the mid '90s: An assistant engineer was asked to mix a debut album by a new band. The album went platinum, and the careers of both the band and the engineer took off.

The band was Green Day, the album was Dookie, and the assistant engineer was Jerry Finn.

I worked with Jerry several times while I was Chief Technical Engineer of Larrabee-East, now called The Pass Studios. Among the projects Jerry did there was mixing the great Bad Religion album titled "The Process of Belief", released in early '02. Due to scheduling conflicts, Bad Religion leader and producer Brett Gurewitz mixed the bulk of the album, but one of Jerry's mixes made the final cut.

Jerry's humility and sense of humor helped him laugh at his success. He enjoyed it, certainly, yet never took it seriously. And he did have a robust sense of humor.

While tracking an album at Larrabee, a call came in from the drummer of a popular band, wanting to talk with Jerry about producing their next album. When told about the call from the front desk, he groaned, said he just didn't want to work with that band. So he asked one of the members of the band he was working with to take the call.

That fellow got on the phone, pretended to be Jerry for several minutes, until the drummer realized the gag, and, embarrassed, hung up. Rude, perhaps, yet really quite funny. I was in the room, heard the whole thing. Bottom line is Jerry didn't have the heart to tell the band he just didn't like them. You had to be there.

Jerry and I talked guitars and amps a lot. He admitted readily that he was a crappy guitarist, yet he wanted the best instruments and amps for the bands he worked with. Often the younger bands didn't have great equipment, so Jerry could really help with their sound.

I hadn't kept in touch with Jerry recently, but I thought of him often. Really nice guy, passionate about music, and really kind to the artists he worked with.

Jerry suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage July 10th. He died August 21st at 5:25 AM. He was 39 years old.

You think life is OK, that you have nothing to worry about?

You think you can wait until tomorrow to tell someone you love them?

You think you have everything under control?

Guess again.