Remembering Jack Dean
Jack Dean, Bar None recording artist and great friend, is gone. He took his own life last week in an apartment in Ohio. We don't have a lot of details though we know he gave his three beloved golden retrievers away to an animal rescue shelter shortly before his death. He told them he felt he could no longer afford to take care of them properly.
There's not a large digital footprint for Jack Dean if you search for him on the internet. He made one album for Bar None in the early 90s: "Smashed" was a collection of catchy melodic songs that Jack sang with his rock trio Greenhouse 27. The songs had an interesting mix of jangle and grunge, and it seemed to have potential to make some noise. In the end it did not storm the charts, although a young woman from Texas once showed up at our office saying she worked for a top rap group and her favorite band was Greenhouse 27. She and her boyfriend heard Jack's band on a local Houston radio station, and the songs spoke to them of their time together in some primordial way.
Jack was a generous soul and a big dreamer. I would argue that those dreams kept him alive for many years. He included his friends in his dreams, and though sometimes his schemes seemed far fetched, there was always a bit of truth that allowed you to hang in there with him. We were always rooting for him to beat the odds. There were high positioned major label executives who took his phone calls, a publishing deal and a big advance about ready to be activated if the right distribution was in place and famous friends and dynamic young female vocalists were ready to sing his songs and get him back in the game.
For more than two decades he would show up at the Bar None office every few years ready to find a way to the brass ring. Sometimes he brought a band, a new vocalist, a video with the last vocalist and sometimes just the golden retrievers. Pop music success was not his only dream. He was also developing a line of ice cream to pitch to The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with flavors like “Ahmet Ertegun's Turkish Delight”. The refinement of his own Jack Dean's Ice Cream was going to be his ticket to retirement. After driving all the way from Cleveland, he would arrive at our offices with new flavors packed in dry ice.
Jack could make friends with anyone and the ladies loved him. His former bandmate JR suggested he might have had a career as a celebrity party planner. He could talk to anyone and always created excitement in his wake, also leaving behind lots of gifts for those who helped him out, vintage clothing, CD box sets, gardening boots, ice cream and a little dog hair.
All his dream chasing was backed up with back breaking reality-based hard labor. He toiled in Ohio his whole adult life as a landscape gardener and designer and then put the money on red. He could tell you about every tree in your neighborhood. He designed stone patios and pool areas and moved the stone himself until his body began to break down. The ice cream did not prove to be a way out.
On a visit he made last spring to Bar None, with all three dogs in tow, he told me the origin of the Greenhouse 27 name. It came about because of his gardening background, but also the number 27 is the age when many of the greats in rock 'n' roll gave up the ghost.
I'm glad we had Jack as long as we did. I wish he had been a little more generous with himself as he was with others, and had left himself a safety net when the dreams became less clear to him. Many of us wish we had paid a little closer attention.
Jack Dean battled depression, but Jack Dean lived life large. Maybe we kept him around a little longer, all of us who enabled him as he chased those dreams. Maybe. Can't be sure. He did make it way past age 27. He didn't make it far enough.
Below is a short video of Jack talking about a kind of tree found in Hoboken, New Jersey. Also JR reminded me about this song, so lets let Jack have the last word here. Sail on dear friend, and thank you for all the generosity and big dreams you brought to this world.
Greenhouse 27 is an herbal defoliant of love...a think tank of fertile musical ideas...a hothouse for the post-Beatle mewling of a true genius. Yeah, it all fits and then some, suffice to say Greenhouse 27 is a damn fine combo that knows how to worm it's way into your cranium with their hummable numbers.
The story begins in the summer of '92 in Shaker Heights, Ohio when the band officially formed. Frontman/chief writer and gardening specialist Jack Dean Moore performed with a group called the Skeletones (hence the monkey bones on the album cover?). Bar None was quite enamored with some of their songs and kept encouraging the lad to hone his craft, hoe his row and sow those fields. "If you do a gig they will come," a voice called out. Sure enough label honcho Tom Prendergast flew to Cleveland and signed them on the spot.
Some notes on the band: Jack Dean Moore has been playing guitar since he was a youngster in San Diego but only began singing a few years ago when he couldn't find anyone to sing his stuff correctly. Because of his gardening expertise Jack can always tell you which of your house plants are going to survive. Jonathan Richey (drums) was found through an attendant at the local Gulf station when Jack Dean pulled up to the pumps and inquired about drummers and oil changes. Jonathan's also a talented multi-instrumentalist specializing in keyboards and has a great pad that he lets Bar None bands crash at whenever they're in town.
Jon "Lurch" Kistler (bass) former Skeletone, replaces Tim Pevec. Fortunately the nick-name "Lurch" doesn't refer to the way he sings or speaks, ("You Rang..."). A degree in rhetoric from Kent State blows that misconception right out the window.
In the past, Greenhouse 27 have opened for Pere Ubu, the Mekons, the Judybats, Sun 60, Eat, Dada and the Wallflowers and are pumped and ready for action on the great American stage.
Their original bio states it best: "Enjoy the hooks and discover the respectfully commercial Greenhouse 27. We possess over 40 songs equaling the level of content of the songs on the enclosed tape. We don't do drugs and we practice a strong work ethic."