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Re: Beatle Bob's Dance Comes to an End

Beatle Bob's Dance Comes to an End
January 24, 2023 03:46PM
I was pretty sure we'd had a discussion about the legendary St. Louis (and elsewhere) concert fixture Beatle Bob on this board, and we had - all the way back in 2005: <[trouserpress.com];

For anyone unfamiliar with Bob and not wanting to read an ancient thread, long story short (or maybe not so short) he is a guy who was out at shows every single night for decades, mostly in his home base of St. Louis, but occasionally turning up in other parts of the country. He was always up at the edge of the stage, doing a peculiar dance of his own choreography, dressed in a red blazer and sporting a moptop hairdo. He was a writer for the old St. Louis zine Jet Lag, where he once made Chuck Berry listen to the Ramones. He was beloved by musicians like Peter Holsapple and Guided By Voices, whose video for "My Kind of Soldier" was a love letter to him. Kirsty MacColl spoke fondly of meeting him in at least one interview that I read.


He attracted controversy over the years. Many people, including one in the linked thread above, thought he was an intolerable distraction and nuisance, but as near as I could tell, those people were nearly all just killjoys who were pissed to see someone else enjoying himself and befriending tons of musicians. In my experience, while Bob was definitely always down front at shows, he was always off to the side - never front and center hogging the spotlight like his detractors would claim. If you couldn't concentrate on a band because one guy off to the side of the stage was doing a weird dance, that's on you, not him. More troubling were accusations by local record stores that he had sticky fingers and that a few of his articles at Jet Lag appeared to have plagiarized sections from other zines from around the country. If true, those things weren't cool, but for the most part I've always liked Bob, although talking to him could be exhausting.

Anyhow, this week brought the sad news that Bob's been diagnosed with ALS, bringing his nightly concert attending streak to an end after 27 years (so the article I read says. He'd been a fixture at shows since the 80s, but maybe his current unbroken nightly streak began in the mid-90s), minus a couple of lost years due to the pandemic.

I hadn't actually seen Bob at any shows for the last ten years or so, but he was reportedly still out there every night. It's likely our paths seldom crossed of late because I don't go to anywhere near as many shows as I used to, mainly because I've gotten to the point where nearly everyone in the audience EXCEPT for Bob annoys the living hell out of me, be it the Sasquatches who decide to elbow their way from the bar to directly in front of me as soon as the headliners take the stage, or the assholes who spend $50 for a ticket then spend the entire show yelling to each other about sports. Those are the villains that have destroyed my ability to enjoy an unacceptably high percentage of shows I go to anymore. Bob was always just a harmless sideshow for me, a guy actually out living his dream. Sad, but kind of appropriate, that his streak has been brought to an end by the same thing that ended Lou Gehrig's.
Re: Beatle Bob's Dance Comes to an End
January 24, 2023 04:38PM
For years Bob attended SXSW, with a badge and everything, and I often saw him at shows featuring performers that would appeal to Trouser Press/Big Takeover-style fans. Most of the time it was like you said - he stayed off to the side and didn't bother anyone. Sometimes, though, he would go front and center - again, that's his right if he wants to - and whenever he did that he sometimes acted like the band onstage was playing just for him, and that could be irritating. He was even invited up onstage by someone at a show I saw, though I don't remember who it was. The Posies, maybe? He certainly reveled in that. It's been years since I've seen him anywhere, though. I guess I won't be seeing him again.

I swear I read an article somewhere that said his day job was working at a public radio or TV station in St. Louis, but I also sometimes think I imagined it.
Re: Beatle Bob's Dance Comes to an End
January 24, 2023 04:54PM
His day job was as a social worker.

The Posies definitely sound like the sort of band that would call him on stage. Any time Brave Combo came to town, they basically made him an adjunct member - he'd be on stage for most of the show, being the emcee, dancing and sometimes banging out simple organ parts. I saw him onstage with Luscious Jackson once, but I don't think they knew who he was. They just invited most of the people down front up on stage and he was one of them.
Re: Beatle Bob's Dance Comes to an End
January 24, 2023 05:58PM
And I forgot to say: regardless of being thought of as a beloved treasure or a major irritant, no one deserves ALS. I had an uncle - a very active man - who died of it. He did manage one last motorcycle trip around the country before his body failed him, though. I hope Bob gets to dance again before the end.
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Re: Beatle Bob's Dance Comes to an End
January 25, 2023 10:23AM
Man, that sucks. I read about him for so many years as this ubiquitous midwestern presence at concerts. Being from Indiana and going to school in Minnesota, I heard about him visiting locations outside of STL sometimes.
Re: Beatle Bob's Dance Comes to an End
January 25, 2023 01:53PM
That's really sad news. I think a lot of live-music lovers in the STL area will find themselves missing Bob, more than they know ... or at least wondering what the heck happened to him.
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