When I was about 4 years old in Union City, New Jersey, I used to hold my Aunt Vivian's hand and walk over to Summit Avenue with her when she went shopping.
We would walk along 6th Street, past Thomas Alva Edison Grammar School.
She used to tell me when I was old enough I would go to that school.
Across from Edison were a block of brownstone houses that eventually were torn down to build a parking lot for St Anthony's Church.
Dave lived in one of those brownstones.
I can vividly recall my aunt stopping on that street to chat with a woman she knew.
That woman was Helen Geerts, Dave's mother.
I can still recall peering from behind my aunt's billowy skirts at this skinny little kid who was doing the same back at me from his hiding place behind his mom.
We never spoke, just stared at each other.
I didn't actually meet Dave until I was attending Edison School but not right away.
It was probably around sixth grade.
Dave was a year older than me.
He'd missed a lot of his sixth year because of some kind of ailment - I want to say appendicitis - and had to repeat it.
In any case, we wound up in the same classes for the last two years of school.
Dave was kind of an odd child, keeping mostly to himself.
Probably felt out of place being in the same classes as others younger than himself.
Somehow we got friendly and, being a bit of an outsider myself, I found myself particularly drawn to his quirkiness.
We both graduated from TAE and went on to Ralph Waldo Emerson High School, where were bonded over The Beatles, The Stones and all the other 'fab' bands of the time.
Dave was the first kid I knew that had a color television and a proper stereo system.
After graduating from Emerson, Dave got a job in a record store and started collecting the Top Ten singles every week whether he liked them or not.
I remember him complaining when Louis Armstrong's recording of Hello Dolly got to number one because it meant he was now definitely going to have to buy it.
One Friday night, Dave and I took the bus over to NYC and walked uptown to a theatre where Murray The K, a very popular DJ at the time, was presenting a rock and roll show with a lineup that included The Zombies, The Who, The Jeff Beck Group (featuring an unknown singer named Rod Stewart), Cream, The Supremes and about 20 other top name acts.
We didn’t have the money to buy tickets so we hung around the stage door trying to spot our faves going in or coming out.
At one point we found ourselves close enough to maybe slip in undetected, but didn’t have the nerve.
There was a security guard standing there, who said ‘Hey, what are you doing here?’.
Dave and I looked at each other, not knowing how to respond, when, suddenly Pete Townshend ran thru the stage door and, out of the blue, Dave said ‘Uh, we’re with him!’
Despite Townshend’s unique bright red, white and blue Union Jack coat, the guard obviously though we long hairs all looked the same and said ‘Well, then, in or out!’
Guess which option we chose?
We found ourselves wandering around backstage and around the dressing rooms, until we discovered the way out into the stalls and into two vacant seats.
What a show it was!
We floated home later that night, constantly talking about our unbelievable experience.
The next day, Saturday, my Aunt Vivian dropped by to see her mother, my grandmother, with whom I still lived, and said ‘Dennis, a friend of mine in work gave me two tickets to some music show over in New York. Do you want them?’
It was the same show we’d seen the night before!
I called Dave and told him that we were going back again.
That Saturday night show was even better because now we felt like we knew all the acts personally.
Dave had never really known his father, but when he passed away his mother was given his ashes.
She said her ex- husband had been a sailor in the Belgian Navy and his last request was to have his ashes spread over the ocean.
Dave and I, along with a couple other mates, went down to the Jersey shore in Dave’s beat up old car to do exactly that.
I remember sitting in the front seat holding what was a nondescript can, like the kind coffee used to come in, with the name Albert Geerts typed on a piece of paper and taped to it.
It felt really unsettling to know I was holding someone’s remains in my lap.
It was winter.
The Jersey shore was always magical at that time of year, especially when it had snowed.
Ever see a sandy beach covered in snow?
Very surrealistic to say the least.
Anyway, we got to Seaside Heights, parked the car and walked out onto one of the piers to perform our intended ritual.
The feel of the ashes and bits of calcified bone in my hands was nothing I’d ever experienced before.
I was contemplating keeping a little piece out of sheer wonderment when Dave said ‘Hey, remember that’s my dad!’
What was I thinking?
So we tossed every bit of the contents of that can into the wind with some of it blowing back onto our coats and us having to brush it off.
The drive home was pretty solemn.
All of these things happened pre-Dr Hook.
Dave became a friend of the band, serving as our first ‘roadie’, before we or he even knew what one of those did.
He moved out to California when we did, living and working with us until the job got to be too technical for him to handle.
You’ll find Dave’s name listed in the ‘thank yous’ in the credits of the early Hook albums.
He’s even pictured behind the bar on our Belly Up album cover.
The band got busier and busier and we eventually drifted apart.
I only saw him one or two more times in the next forty years.
I’ll leave it here with one of my most enduring memories of Dave.
When we were in our teens and just growing our hair to match our heroes, he would wash his, blow dry it and look in the mirror and shaking it back and forth, making a motion with his hands like he was playing the drums.
That’s how he could tell he’d gotten it just right. ~