RIP – TOM ARDOLINO


EXPIRED: 01/06/12  – Tom Ardolino, 57, was an amateur drummer and fan of the band NRBQ, who after trading tapes with co-founder Terry Adams and establishing a rapport with the singer, found himself called up onstage at a sow when drummer Tom Staley skipped out on an encore. When Staley quit NRBQ in 1974, Ardolino took over.

He stayed in the band until it disbanded in 2004 so Adams could get treatment for throat cancer.

The freedom left Ardolino room to do some solo work and he released “Unknown Brain.” The album consisted mostly of 30 year old basement recordings made before he was in NRBQ. The cover states “WARNING: If out-of-tuneness bothers you, do not listen.”

Earlier this year Adams decided to put NRBQ back together with a new album and tour. Although Ardolino wasnt part of the line-up, he was very supportive of the reunion. He was always a fan after all, even before he was a member.

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RIP – DON LAPRE


EXPIRED: 10/02/11 – Don Lapre, 47, had dropped out of his Massachusetts high school only to find success and fame as the ‘King of Infomercials’. He’s the guy who peddled get-rich-quick schemes, showing you his secrets for making $50,000 a week by “placing tiny classified ads in the newspaper.” Remember him?

Well, after the ‘tiny classified ad’ thing wore out its welcome, Lapre was pitching “The Greatest Vitamin in the World.” That, too, was also a sham and the FDA was on his case for years trying to get him to stop claiming that the worthless pills could do things that it couldn’t. His last attempt at business was duping people into letting his ‘company’ make one minute TV ads that “you could put up on YouTube to reach millions of people to buy your product or service.”

Eventually he was accused on 41 counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and promotional money laundering. Basically, the guy defrauding at least 220,000 people out of nearly $52 million.

He was arrested this past June for failing to appear for his arraignment. US Marshals found Lapre hiding in the locker room of a Life Time Fitness location in Tempe, Arizona. He had reportedly lived in the Life Time Fitness location for two days, and was suffering from serious self-inflicted knife wounds to his groin as he tried to sever his femoral artery.

He was thrown into a holding cell to await a trial that was to begin today. The charges carried potential fines of between $250,000 and $500,000 per count and federal prison terms of between five and 25 years.

But Lapre had other ideas and took his life. He wrote on his website, donlapre.com, “I am left to fight a battle that will for sure destroy what energy I have left inside.” And with that, he took his life.

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RIP – BILL WONG


EXPIRED: 08/06/11 – Bill Wong, 88, bought a tiny, 21 seat, chinese diner in 1958, renamed it, and built an Asian empire. Now called Kowloon, on Rt. 1 in Saugus, MA, it seats over 1200 and is America’s largest Asian restaurant. It’s so well known for tiki culture that tour buses make sure to stop there.

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RIP – KEITH ELAM


EXPIRED: 04/19/10 – Keith Elam, 47, grew up in Roxbury, Massachusetts. For many in Roxbury, at the time, you had two career choices. You could join a gang – or you could dream about becoming a star and getting out of the hood.

For Elam it was different. His dad was a Boston judge. His mom was a major force in the Boston public school system. Elam went to college in Atlanta and graduated with a business degree and later took courses in fashion at NYC’s Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan.

But Elam still had Roxbury in his blood – that conflict of gang member and stardom. He dropped out to pursue a rap career.

He started at the mic as MC Keithy E, then formed a band called Gang Starr in 1987. He changed his name to Guru at the time, stating it stood for “Gifted Universal Rhymes Unlimited.” Other times he explained that Guru was an acronym for “God is Universal; Ruler Universal” a reference to the teachings of the Nation of Gods and Earths.

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RIP – BEN GARDINER


EXPIRED: 01/23/10 – Ben Gardiner, 88, was born and raised in Massachusetts, and graduated from Harvard University. After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, and fighting in the Battle of the Bulge, he joined the Boston Globe, reporting on local theater and classical music

He got married and had a typical life, 4 kids, house in the burbs. But then something happened. He got a divorce, moved to New York and became a model and waiter. Over the next five decades – and as recently as in 2006 – he appeared onstage, on television and in films, often as an extra. Some of his appearances have been in “North by Northwest” (1959), “The Doors” (1991), “The Game” (1997), and “Patch Adams” (1998).

But his biggest accomplishments happened after he moved to San Francisco, specifically the Castro district. Gardiner was best known around the Castro for his trademark J.C. Penney coveralls and long, white hair and beard. He lived on Noe Street in the Duboce Triangle for nearly four decades.

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RIP – STEPHEN HUNECK


EXPIRED: 01/07/10 – Stephen Huneck, 60, who loved dogs more than people, but loved people – especially those who loved dogs – enough to take his own life when he felt he let them down.

Huneck was a self taught folk artist whose paintings, sculptures and woodcut prints of Labradors and other dogs won him a worldwide fan base. As a dog lover and someone who shares my heart with a big mushy Lab, I can speak for many when I say the world will have a lot less tail wagging without Huneck in it.

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RIP – ARNOLD STANG


EXPIRED: 12/20/09 – Arnold Stang, 91, was known for his nerdy looks and distinctive nasal voice. He was a diminutive, bespectacled, nebbish little man who made a living playing diminutive, bespectacled, caustic little men – and sometimes heroic cats!

He’s best known for being part of the ensemble cast of the classic 60’s movie comedy “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World” and providing the voice for the brash lead alley cat character in the 1960s Hanna-Barbera animated TV series “Top Cat.”

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