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In Memoriam: Tony Sly of No Use for a Name

In Culture, Music
Tony Sly // Courtesy of Fat Wreck Chords.

Tony Sly // Courtesy of Fat Wreck Chords.

Tony Sly, a fixture in the San Jose rock scene and front man of No Use for a Name, passed away today at the age of 41. His long-time friend Jeff Brummett shares his thoughts and memories.

Tony was my first real best friend. One of those life changing friends you meet when you’re in those horrifying, formidable teenage years. Now, looking back he was the most pronounced influence on who I am.

We met in junior high and quickly became very close. We would draw this comic strip of this fake band named Ho Scale, where the characters were all stick figures. They would have adventures and battle their nemesis, a maniacal yet perfect elf named Kits. We would record old records onto tapes and make fake album covers and pretend they were the new Ho Scale release. We’d try and impress the other one with a new obscure Ho record. Tony would choose Deep Purple a lot. We were weird kids.

There was a lot of firsts with Tony. We had our first band together. Well, it was hardly a band. He was already a pretty decent guitar player and I was just the nerd trying to keep up with him. We would cut school and go to my house and make tape after tape of songs. Goofy tunes filled with inside jokes about our classmates and surreal weirdness only freshmen in high school can come up with. But even then, you could see how talented Tony was.

I played “drums” with these giant duct taped drumsticks and would beat on this huge blue Tupperware clothes hamper we dubbed the “blue thing.” I still have it. Tony seemed to have endless riffs and melodies and would just knock out like 10 songs in an afternoon. He could scream relentlessly one minute and seamlessly strum a beautiful ballad the next. Okay, maybe the ballad would be about how some guy in our class had a weird shaped head or something, but still. Dude had range, even then. I couldn’t believe my best pal was such a talent. And that I got to jam with him. I was hooked. I knew I had to be around music from then on.

So many firsts. We smoked our first cigarette together. I first heard the Misfits at his house. We would obsess on the Misfits. We’d spend hours and hours deciphering lyrics and debating which single was the best (I still say Bullet). We would take the bus to Tower and just devour punk records. Minor Threat, Descendents, Black Flag, all the greats we would discover together. He taught me how to play power chords, which opened the door to writing my own songs. Life changing.

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