Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Freddie Tieken was a legend

WE ARE SADDENED TO HEAR Freddie Tieken passed away Tuesday in Arizona. He's among the most influential musicians to come out of Quincy, and his days with Freddie Tieken & The Rockers were stuff of legend.

The best resource to learn about Freddie is his website, where he tells the tale of his band and their adventures in the 1950s, 60s and beyond. He has great stories of playing with crazy musicians, touring the region and even the country, and overcoming the millions of obstacles to become successful. 

Back in his heydey, Freddie and his band commanded big audiences at places like Turner Hall, Quincy College, Sheridan Swim Club, the race track in West Quincy and The Barn. Freddie played sax and ran the show, and one of the young musicians who joined up was fellow sax player Jack Inghram, who recorded the band at its peak. Those recordings are still around and pop up on YouTube if you want to listen.

Freddie had a recording studio and did big-time projects with big-time bands. His stories of the legendary Smokehouse are priceless. He later moved to Chicago and then to Arizona.

Ten years ago, Phil Conover wandered into Second String Music and said the Mendon schools were honoring Freddie with an award and a fundraiser. Freddie grew up in the Mendon area and hadn't been back to the Quincy for many years and long ago gave up playing his horn, but he agreed to come back. Phil asked me to put together a band to have a jam session, and I rounded up Cheeseburger drummer Kirk Gribbler and roadie Frank Haxel to help.

I wrote about Freddie coming back, one of my last Herald-Whig columns. I talked to him by phone and he was in really great spirits. 

I know Jack played with us that November night at the Holiday Inn. So did Vernie Robbins, the incredible singer. Ron Shumake played bass and Dave Bradshaw was on drums. Phil even played keyboards on a song. I know there were others so I apologize if I've left them out. Geesh, what a blast! Freddie, of course, had blown out his voice speaking to students earlier in the day, and by the time he got to rehearsal his voice was shot. He still gutted it out and we did five or six classic Rockers tunes, and the place was jumping.

Freddie was in his mid-80s. He had a great run. I'm not sure he was in the greatest of health toward the end, so he's in a better place now and probably organizing a band for some holy jam session.

Peace to him and family.

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