Thomas Ralph McGovern, born on October 31, 1952, passed away on July 3, 2016 after 17 years of battling heart disease. Thomas was a local musician and member of Players de Noc. He was preceded in death by his adoptive parents, Milt and Ann McGovern. He was the adopted brother of Mary Ann McGovern. He leaves behind his son, Jonathan Yirka, domestic partner of 31 years, Josephine Danielson, ex-wife, Donna Creapeau, step-daughter, Jennifer Huckleberry, and many friends and musicians.
An observance of his time amongst us will be held on November 2, 2016 (All Soul’s Day). Time and place will be announced.
Thomas loved performing outdoors. His goal was to perform cover work as close to the real band as possible.
His dream was to create a trust fund to provide instruments to young people unable to afford their own. Let’s make that dream become reality.
The following is how he wrote his obituary: In the mid-1960’s, I took an interest in becoming a drummer in a rock and roll band, but I decided to take piano lessons on the advice of probably Ruth Anderson from the Delta Music Center. The thinking at the time was (and damn well should be) that once a music student learned the basics of the piano, such as scales, musical keys, timing and sight reading, the student could much more easily apply those principles to any other musical instrument they wanted to learn how to play.
It was true then and better still be true now. The latest “method” or “style” neglects the time-honored traditional methods of instruction and learning.
After 2 or 3 years of lessons, I decided to switch instruments from the piano to guitar. The Beatles were very hot at the time, being the leaders of the British Rock Music Explosion in American. The piano lessons served me well in learning the guitar.
Not long after this, I began to play with a patchwork of neighborhood bands (whomever could get together) whose playing was restricted to someone’s garage or basement.
Finally, in 1968 (more or less), I was contacted to play in a band that was being formed for real play-for-pay band. Then band’s name was The Spoken For. Several months later I was contacted by members of The Riot Squad, the most polished and popular band in the U.P. at the time. I took over lead guitar and vocals for about a year.
Then I and two other members of that band left to form a harder rock bank called Porridge. This happened at a time when all music that is now called “classic rock” was brand new and hotter than it is now.
From Porridge, I moved to another classic rock band – Home Sweet. I stayed in the hard rock arena through 2 other hard rock bands at the time – Slim Barney out of Rock and finally Home Sweet II out of Eau Claire, WI.
In 1973, after 5 straight years of road work and one-night stands, I hung it up to concentrate full-time on the community theater scene.
After a tour in the Navy and several years of living in Norfolk, VA, I returned to the U.P. in 1981 and Players de Noc.
In 1985, after 16 years away from live music, I joined Trax (old band mates Dale Stannard and Dan Curran called on me to play again with them and Dan McDonald and Tim Murray). Later, I formed Home Sweet III with Dan Curran, Dale Stannard and Jesse Pepin. From there, I moved on to forming Black Jasmine with an entirely younger generation of musicians. Then I re-joined old friends from the Riot squad who were again in need of a lead guitarist and this was The Reunion Band/Midnight Flyer – one band was rock and the other was country. Thereafter, I left to join Jimmy and The Cadillacs. My music career ended in 2001 due to heart disease. I was certain I would play until I was a very old man. I always said that I played lead guitar with my middle finger up.
The musicians I worked with: Dale Stannard, Dan Curran, Brendan Williams, Greg Curran, Bob Derouin, Jesse Pepin, Tim Murray, Dan McDonald, Brian and Brent Levesque, Steve (second drummer for Black Jasmine), Steve Anderson, Brandon Flinn, Randy Erickson, Gary Rogers, Tom Caron, Matt Gadnis, Bob Anzalone, Jim Jocques, Mitch Jensen, Dave Cass, John Adams, the West brothers, Joe Weissgerber, Brisbane, Marc Maga, Judy Tiafialo, Chris Bartlett, Mike Backlund, Dan Therrien, Phil Ollero, and Joe Russo. Anyone I forgot, it’s not intentional. I don’t have any regrets. Things happened the way they happened.
The Crawford Funeral Homes are assisting the McGovern family.