Bob Rafkin slipped away from us today.
He’d been struggling with cancer for a few years.
SWEET DREAMS – Bob Rafkin
Previously, he asked Al Scortino if he could sit in with the duo during a benefit
performance for Jennifer Goldecker on Merritt Island. He was very humble in his
approach and gracious in accepting our decline. Perhaps we blew it, as he was
always exquisite in his tasteful accompaniment. This would have likely been NOT
only a powerful surprise to our arrangements but a delight for the audience.
I’D RATHER BE AN OUTLAW – Bob Rafkin
Bob told a supportive (OUTLAW genesis) story of a home owning resister in LA he
came to know. A guy with long family history in the family home, currently
occupied, objecting vigorously to another freeway being built on top of the
COMFORT IS THE MUSIC – Bob Rafkin
Standing/talking in the food line with Shelby Lane and her mom, Kashi, during
the Barberville Pioneer Days, Shelby passionately described her dreams to be an
EIGHTY ACRES OF STARS – Annie Simms performed by Bob Rafkin as sung by his
daughter Shelby Lane
Sitting with Kashi&Bob at the South Florida Folk Roundup after his set we spoke
at length about his touring time with Phil Ochs. This conversation began with
laughs about my muffing his invitation to play accordion during one of his South
Florida Folk Festival performances. I arrived all excited to justify this honor.
When the awesome bass player and magnificent percussionist began, , , I realized
instantly the song I’d developed a part for wasn’t the song Bob intended for me
to accompany. How embarrassing. He never spoke another word about it.
During this conversation I referenced a direct quote from Phil Ochs (confession
as John Butler Train) as documented in “Inside LC: The Strange But Mostly True
Story Of Laurel Canyon And The Birth Of The Hippie Generation”. Clearly Bob was
familiar with Zappa’s “Log Cabin” gatherings/ operations from/adjacent to the
CIA’s Lookout Mountain facility.
Becoming more animated than I’d ever seen him, he told a first hand story.
On stage with Phil Ochs at Carnegie Hall when the
“Bolsheviks” created such a commotion, threatening them, the concert was
uproariously canceled. Bob kept repeating with adamant disdain, “Bolsheviks”,
prefacing every sentence.
Phil went on to record the album “Shoot Out At Carnegie Hall”. Somewhere in a
Phil Ochs documentary is footage of he & Bob on this stage just before the
“suits with dark glasses appeared and grabbed Phil taking him away to a waiting
black car”. Bob was never sure about Phil being all there or if he was a drug
addled mind controlled asset of the CIA. The notion of the double entendre
shines in LOVE ME I’M A LIBERAL.
There were the years where Bob lived in the Laurel Canyon. In a small shack with
NO locked door, before he dropped out of music for an extended period of time.
The Byrd’s recorded one of his tunes in a way he disliked extremely. “I took the
record and threw it away, , , like a frisby.” making the motion with his arm.
Here is Bob doing his rendition of the tune the Byrd’s mangled.
LAZY WATERS – Bob Rafkin
This performance at Leu Gardens was preceded with a current events post from me
to 4FoFFers , woven around Bob’s song SOMETHIN’ WRONG IS GOING ON. The man was
always so understated, often with a tinge of dry humor. In his acknowledgement
from the stage of this promotional post for his concert, calling attention to
it/me in the audience, with his kind smile and easy laugh.
My sense is Bob Rafkin’s gentle ways, like the examples above and so much more,
became manifestly focused somewhere along this life journey when he became a Buddists.
A wonderful human being to know. His presence shall be dearly missed, NOT forgotten.
Bob Rafkin – Singing/Songwriter