I received word last night that an old friend and bandmate Brent Johnson passed away yesterday. I’m having trouble wrapping my brain around it since he was a relatively young man. I was lucky enough to play in THEATRE OF ICE with Brent on and off for a few years back in the late 80s. Brent was one of the smartest, funniest people I ever met. I always thought of his lyrics as being like Stephen King set to music. He could weave a tale of terror with the best horror writers out there. Here are a some of my favorite memories with him.
He spent the night in my apartment in Provo back when we were doing a show somewhere. Dale was there too for a while, but since he was single he left us and went out on the prowl. We stayed up late into the night talking about music and life. As conversations with Brent often did, the subject turned to the macabre. One of my favorite things to do as a kid was stay up late telling scary stories. I thought I was too old to be scared by ghost stories, but I was so very wrong. Brent knew stories that would make your hair stand on end.
Once when we were being interviewed for a music magazine, the writer was making some not-so-subtle digs at Brent’s Mormon faith. Rather than get angry or defensive, Brent handled it with grace and skill that I always wished I possessed.
One of my favorite shows we did was a Halloween extravaganza. We played at a place called Cinema in Your Face. This was an old style movie theater with a big stage and balcony. I’m not sure if it’s still around, but it was the main place in those days where you could see art films in Salt Lake. We played through the night while they showed monster movies behind us. A video of that existed at one time, but sadly it’s lost now.
The last time I saw Brent in person was when George and I were crashing at his place in Arizona so we could catch Paul McCartney in concert during his 1990 tour. Brent’s answering machine had a Theater of Ice song on it at the time. Brent told us he was going to have to change it because his boss had called there, but thought he got a wrong number because all he heard was “some guy screaming.”
Over the past several years, we’ve talking about reuniting for a show or two. I wish we had been able to pull it off.
Rest in peace Brent. To quote you, “Life is a wild and scary thing, who knows what tomorrow brings?”