Posted: Jan 10, 2008 11:11 pm
Dave Day Obituary by Gentleman John Battles
Dave Day , legendary banjo player for one of Rock's most original and enigmatic outfits , the monks , passed away this morning. I don't have a lot of details at this moment , but , he reportedly suffered a massive heart attack , and further complications to the brain , both of which left him on life support for a very short time , before he died.
Day was regarded as the "Rocker" of the group , the one who really wanted to "Mach Schau" , while the others wanted to be taken a little more seriously , and not ham it up in Rock 'n'Roll fashion. the monks were billed as "The Anti Beatles" , their music even called "Anti Rock" by some , but the monks, in deconstructing Rock'n'Roll in a manner that owed a lot to the previous Dada and Expressionist movements of their adopted home of Germany (Whether it was conscious or not.), are , perhaps , only in recent years , being accepted as a great Rock 'n'Roll band. A band whose music foresaw the Punk movement of some ten years later , the monks' sound was easily 30 years ahead of its' time.
In 1999 , the monks played their first two reunion shows , ever. Most of them had been performing music on some level , with Dave Day (Real last name : Havelchek. I may have spelled that wrong , sorry.) performing locally around the Seattle area , where he was nicknamed Elvismonk , for his love of performing Elvis songs. He nearly performed at a Garageshock festival show with Southern Culture on The Skids as Elvismonk in the 90's. He appeared , in full monks costume , signed some autographs , then left , before the members of S.C. O.T.S. could catch up with him. His wife told me Dave could not leave the house without taking his acoustic guitar with him , because people would frequently ask him to sing songs on the spot , for which he was glad to oblige. the monks' reunion shows , at the 1999 Cavestomp! Festival were an uncontested success. People went in , I think , with the full knowledge that it could not be just as it was in 1966 , but , in that it was live , and they were still pushing Rock'n'Roll music to the outer limits , the monks proved that they still were what they had been , before. Like many others , I was in awe.....AND , I had a great time , especially watching Dave rave up on the electric banjo (Probably it's first use , and to be sure , it's most dangerous , in Rock 'n'Roll.)and seeing his face light up as he "Made show" . Out of all the monks , Dave held on to the dream of one day becoming a bonafide Rock star. the monks had their pocket of fans in Germany , but , the tonsured , black robe monasterial garb was a far cry from the longhaired countenances of The Beatles or The Stones that members of the group openly pined to be more like. Day , more of a "Greaser" in his attiude , wanted to be more like his hero , Elvis Presley. the monks ' look , and even the uncommercial nature of their sound was largely credited , or blamed , to their two German managers , BUT , they would not have been the monks without the disparate nature of their personalities and musical influences. NOBODY else could have tranformed themselves into the monks.
In 2000 , Dave showed up , unannounced , at the 2000 Cavestomp! , just to hang out , hold court , and see some bands. He was looking every inch the Rocker (He was the only band member who still had enough hair left to shave a monks tonsure in his head!) , in a black leather vest and motorcycle cap. I was fortunate in that I must have spoken with him for several hours in the course of the three evenings. What sticks in my mind most , was , Dave asked me if I thought it was a good idea for him to go pay a visit to headliners , The Troggs , with whom the monks shared several bills in the mid - sixties. He became that big kid he always , really , was , when he asked me , "Do you think I should go up and say "Hi" to them? Do you think they'd like to see me ? Do you think they remember the monks?". I told him , I 'm sure they'd love to talk to him. Besides , how could ANYBODY not remember the monks?! He came back , later , telling me , "John! I saw The Troggs , and they were really nice! They remembered us , and we had a real nice talk , and everything!!!!" ..... I'm sure Dave is having a real nice talk , now , with ANOTHER Presley , not Reg , but Elvis.
the monks performed again at the 2004 (?) Rockaround in Las Vegas. Again , a monumental gig , with fans appearing in droves to meet Dave andget his autograph. Drummer Roger Johnston was struggling with Cancer , which soon took his life , but encouraged the others to do the gig. Johnston had passed away by the time the monks fulfilled another engagement in Barcelona. The band reportedly turned in another powerhouse performance , despite , or maybe , to some degree , because of , their visible grief. Keyboardist , Larry , called it a day , but the remaining three members returned to Europe as the monks a few years later , returning to Germany (I forget where else.) , and , more recently , playing their first - ever London show , this time , with Larry back in the fold.
It's the end of an era...But who would have known it would have taken them to such heights and to so many places as said era was drawing to a close....a closure that many fans had thought was long behind them. But , we're seeing , again and again , in the world of Rock'n'Roll , nothing can be ruled out as impossible.
So long , buddy. We'll miss you. John Battles.