I knew Steve and a bunch of other guys from hanging around in an internet forum for recording studio engineers. I went there on the rumor that someone had some stems from Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love. Never did not get them, but I started reading a series of posts called the Bitch Slap Diaries containing a hilarious compendium of recording studio shenanigans. At times it had me laughing so hard I had tears running down my face. I have always been drawn into the world of how things work, since I am better with electronics and engineering than I am with music. I had read recording magazines voraciously, and later the internet provided even more information. So, I had a lot of book knowledge when we talked about recording and mixing, and they graciously allowed me to hang out and pretend I was one of the guys instead of a wanna-be with a boring day job…
At that time, the forum attracted some very successful and humorous music industry types and we had a lot of fun. I recall one forum regular who had been on a team that received a Grammy for a song he helped record. He was so modest that he claimed his sole contribution to the project was sitting at the keyboard of the computer running pro tools and hitting the space bar to start and stop the recording… Even his modesty was humorous.
Steve’s web handle in the forum was Loudist, and he sure loved to stir the pot–shit slinging as it was known, and I certainly enjoyed slinging plenty of my own. Some decades have passed, and I can’t even remember my own original internet handle from that forum. One day somebody blew my mind when he told me he was posting under more than one alias. Well, it didn’t take long before I created a bunch of my own and at times engaging in flame wars with each other or me, and at other times praising me effusively. Those in the know were suitably humored.
There was one forum member who was kind of aggressive and obnoxious, at least as I saw it. I created an alias using his alias but I put a period in front of it so the software allowed me to create it as being different from his existing one. I used the same avatar photo. I created posts where he seemingly apologized for his erroneous ideas and posts and praised me. Most people could not tell the difference with the period at the front of the alias, and much confusion ensued.
After a while it got so that people could immediately recognize my writing style and would ‘dox’ me after a couple of posts. We had a lot of fun until at some point everybody moved to other forums and like many good things, it came to an end.
It was in the middle of this that I started developing a relationship with Loudist on the forum, as I did not know his real name for a while. He ultimately invited me to a kind of secret forum where a group of the regulars would socialize and to some extent plan concerted shit stirring in the forum. Here I got to know him better and we began speaking on the phone.
Loudist had a dry and dark sense of humor, and a love for music, and we got on famously. He did have the habit of talking for hours on the phone. When he called, that was the end of anything else I had planned for the evening. We spent countless enjoyable hours discussing the Theory of the Popular Song, and solved many other world problems as well…
On one occasion, I was flying to Colombia and had a 6 hour layover in Miami. I made plans with Steve for him to pick me up at the airport and we would go out to lunch. Thusly, I met him in person. Steve took me on a tour of a recording studio he did some work for. I learned that gold records are simply regular records with gold paint. And the records are not of the actual album, but rather a record of some unsold stock that had the same number of tracks. The actual record itself was worth money to sell, so they would not waste that on a wall decoration…
On November 21, 2005, to my horror I saw a post on the forum entitled “Loudest has died”. I resolved to fly to Florida and meet his family and extend my regrets–and did so. Some other guys from the forum came as well, and we car-pooled to the funeral reception. On the way, these guys started blowing doobie in the car. I did not participate, but got plenty of second had smoke… When we showed up at the house and opened the car doors, some smoke billowed out, and I felt like it was a scene from the movie Up In Smoke. My clothes smelled like reefer and I wanted to tell Steve’s relatives that I wasn’t inhaling, but that would have made it more awkward, and nobody really cared.
At this gathering, I had the chance to speak to one of the engineers who recorded the Layla album, and he gave me the skinny on how that went down–but that’s a story for another day. Also met the guy who mixed down La Vida Loca and heard some back story on that as well. I joined a dinner in the hotel with these industry guys around the table, dishing the gossip on the rich and famous, and that was as cool a thing as I could ever imagine.
Steve’s brother played Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here on an acoustic guitar and sang it, and he remarked it was the hardest song he had ever played. Loudist, I remember and miss you, and with all my heart, wish you were still here.