Month: May 2014

Brad Baker

Nashville has always allowed quirky characters to thrive.  From dueling President “Old Hickory” Andrew Jackson, to George Jones getting DUI’s on his lawnmower, and Miley Cyrus’ tongue; there is never a dull moment in the town’s history.

My favorite local legend passed away almost two years ago after months of complications.  Brad Baker, 58, was the very grumpy, longtime sound man at The End.  Most musicians in town that played The End had a love/hate relationship with Brad, who would almost always come over the monitors and say, “you suck,” (or worse) to even the better bands in town.

Brad had an affinity for the booze and loved to drink and tell wild stories about his past; the truths of which are still drunkenly debated today in his absence (pour one out).

Fact: Brad managed Third Encore Studios in Los Angeles.

Legend: Brad was working when Nirvana was rehearsing to record Nevermind. He, of course, told them they sucked the entire time.

Fact: Brad was the guitar tech for REO Speedwagon and in their crew band Hotel Bill and The Incidentals and penned cult classic Wasted Rock Ranger.

Legend: Brad continuously claimed he came up with the Guns and Roses song “Night Train” after they had taken a break from being in the studio all day and someone drove by and yelled out the window, “I’m on the Night Train.”

Fact: Created and promoted the Itchycoo Park Festival in Nashville (now known as Bonnaroo).

Legend: Brad was out with cheap trick and he claimed he was credited as “porque” on live at budoken.

Whatever the truth, his legacy lives on; for no one is truly dead until their name is whispered for the last time. RIP Brad.

 

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The Gift Box Bomber

gift box

Some people are just plain evil. And with Travis Tate, known as the Gift Box Bomber, you could see it in his eyes.

On June 2, 1960, nine days after the birth of his daughter, Tate mailed an explosive jewelry box to his then ex-wife who was living in the Inglewood neighborhood of Nashville.  When she opened the package, the blast blew off her hands and left her blinded.  Miraculously, the newborn was unharmed but Mrs. Tate’s two children from a previous marriage were seriously injured.

June 11, 1960 Kansas City Times:

“Tate told authorities he rigged the bomb because he was tired of hearing people ask when ’“Frances” was coming home. The couple is divorced. “I guess 1 just went crazy,* Kerkeles quoted Tate as saying. Butler said the break came after a restaurant cook told sheriff’s investigators that he saw Tate in a restaurant 25 miles south of Nashville at 2:30 a. m. June 2. Tate had maintained that he did not leave his home near Fayetteville until 3 a. m. on the day of the bombing.”

Strangely, his name changes by source; either known as Willie Levoy Tate or Travis Tate, but the story remains the same.  He was sentenced to 21 years in prison.