RixMyth: Remembering a gentle giant

I recieved the call from a mutual friend, “I’ve got some bad news. Rick is dead.”

There are few bits of news that are harder to handle than the loss of a friend or family member. But this news was about the death of my 39yr old bandmate. And there are few people in my life who were as thoughtful and considerate as Rick Smith, aka RixMyth, aka Oleg Archy…a gentle giant.

I met Rick when I was working at KPFT. He was a co-host and in many ways the musical brain behind the “Messerschmidtt World Domination Hour” with my mutual friend, Staci Davis, aka Ann Archy. These two had a show that tops all late night shows. Their themes were thoughtful and funny with music to match. Be it food, sex, suicide, you name it, these two would pick a theme and all the songs would relate to the them for 3 hours every Tuesday night.

He was so quiet as a person that it was easy to miss him if you weren’t paying attention. Then he and I struck up a conversation about music. When I told him I played guitar he was quick to tell me about what he had been doing and to invite me to play. This sort of engagement was typical for Rick who was very open to people’s ideas and provided the room for them to grow.

I got to know Rick as we tried to find out about each other’s music, and in time would exchange music and movies and the latest politics. He paid great attention to the latest politics and events with a keen eye for the meta-issues related to the stories. His library was filled with the best albums and the best books.

When I got the news of his death, we thought he had died due to a dislocated shoulder that wasn’t treated. We thought it had not been treated and he might have had blood poisoning or a combination of medication to treat his pain. It would be 7 months later that I found out my dear friend died of cancer. He was dying in front of us and we never knew.

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Routinely he was getting tired and complained mildly of being under the weather, could we talk another time. None of his friends were aware because he wasn’t aware. He died of the leading cause of death, cancer. And to this day I cannot easily let it go that we might have Rick here had he been able to get basic health care screening.

Now part of me knows he wouldn’t want us to linger on him that way because he’s up jamming with Jimi Hendrix and the Ramones. But I miss him often as do many others from all walks of life who were touched by this truly kind soul.

I remember well that my mutual friends with Rick were often at each other’s throats or distant and he never let this be his concern. Two people could really loathe each other and Rick could maintain friendship with both without need to validate either’s anger.

In life we need to take a moment to clear up our relationships and reaffirm our love for family. I would give anything to talk to Rick again and say, “I love you”. And so I will simply do it by trying to live that lesson with my other loved ones, and hope you will do.

Further, we should get serious about curing cancer and make sure that people don’t die because they simply can’t afford health care.

To Rick and his Family, you were the best friend a brother could ever have and I will never forget you and what you did for my life and happiness. Thank you for your example. You were a far better man than I, and I will try to get my life in line with your kindness. Thank you bro and we’ll play again someday.

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