Robin Sylvester, RIP

Today I am grieving the death of Robin Sylvester, one of my all-time favorite jamming partners and a damn fine fellow.

I first met him in the late ’90s when he was with Vince Welnick & Missing Man Formation. And of course, he was in Ratdog for many years. I can’t recall the first time we played together, but it was the first of many live shows and studio sessions.

Robin looms large in my discography:
Fragile Thunder: One Afternoon Long Ago
Chocolate Coffee Pot
Three songs on Drop the Bone
Two songs on You Are Here
The Town That Still Believes in Magic” w/ Scott Guberman, me, and Greg Anton (that’s a “pay what you want” download, so you can enter $0 and hear it for free if you like)

I also have several unreleased tracks from various sessions, and of course dozens of live shows we did together.

Robin had that wonderful ability to hold the groove and participate in the musical conversation at the same time. He was a wonderful musician and a very kind and gentle man.

Robin had health problems for many years. He was in dialysis several times a week, waiting for a kidney transplant that never came. Last year I passed the hat and raised $30,000 to help with his ongoing need for in-home care. The messages of love that came in with the donations were breathtaking.

We spoke on the phone a couple of weeks ago, and Robin indicated that he was likely to need another round of donations. I was gearing up to get that started when I heard that he was in the hospital again.

Last week I got a call from his caregiver, saying that Robin was asking for me, so I went up to Santa Rosa Thursday morning and visited him in the ICU.

He was asleep when I got there so I sat quietly until he woke up. He was very, very weak and it was hard to hear him in that noisy room. We watched a bit of Justin Kreutzmann’s new movie on my computer. Nurses came in to do various things and I got a look at his legs, which were nothing but bone. I started to get the idea that he might not be going home.

Robin was starting to drift off again, so I put the computer away and prepared to leave. “I love you, Robin,” I said as I left. “I love you, too, David.” I am so glad I was able to say that to him.

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply