On Saturday, April 12, Mark McCoy, former bass player for Micky and the Motorcars, drowned in a rafting accident on the Salmon River near Stanley, Idaho. He was 30 years old.

By Adam Odor

(May/June 2012/vol. 5 – Issue 3)

Green trees and faded billboards rush by my tinted window as we head east on 79.  Roads we’ve all traveled for music we all love. Focusing has never really been a problem for me, but strong memories tend to blur immediate realities.

Though our paths crossed many times before, Mark “Gus” McCoy and I didn’t really meet until we went in to make Micky and the Motorcars’ Careless album. The studio is the messiest of operating rooms, riding the fine line between precision and passion, and in each band there’s always a “keystone.” Never budging or faltering, keeping a secure structure, always giving their best every time. This was the Gus I met and knew, a musician that knew and did his job. He stepped up and played his best every time; whether throwing curves or repeating a 10th take, you knew he was going to keep the foundation solid.

Mark "Gus" McCoy (in red shirt) with Micky and the Motorcars (Courtesy Micky and the Motorcars)

Mark “Gus” McCoy (in red shirt) with Micky and the Motorcars (Courtesy Micky and the Motorcars)

Out of studio intensity friendships build. Gus and I built ours with a mutual love of the outdoors and a fondness for trying to solve the music industry’s business problems. Late nights and early mornings at the Tiki Bar would involve mind-boggling realities of blown-off contracts and hateful bar owners followed by soul-healing descriptions of mountain ranges and rivers that sounded like fairy-tales (until actually visited). I tried to explain fishing on the Atlantic Coast, but nothing compared to his fishing exploits on the Salmon River. Idaho seemed like heaven and he would let you know about it. Gus had passions. A passion for his brothers-in-arms and a passion for his home. His heart carried a love for others that was never stated, and never needed to be.

Over the years we made more albums together,  though the miles became longer between visits. When I would come to a show Gus always offered to let me play a tune on his Jazz bass, and afterwards we would grab a drink and catch up on new anecdotes and whatever ideas to change the world were floating around in our heads. Like most musicians we never saw our immediate family on holidays, and his house was always open for a Thanksgiving gathering with the rest of his Motorcars family. Gus always had a door open when I needed it, and for that I thank him.

Toward the end of 2011, I walked out of Bismeaux Studios one day to see him getting into the big blue Motorcars van. “What’s going on buddy, why aren’t you out with the guys?” Gus smiled as he always did and we talked for 20 minutes. He was going home for a while. Fishing, family, friends. The road takes its toll on you, and sometimes you need a break. You need to learn to breathe again. To find yourself. And at that moment it was time for him to travel down that path. He was leaving the next day. We hugged and waved goodbye. “See you at the next (Braun Brothers) Reunion.”

Focusing is still not a problem for me. Though I didn’t see the trees, I saw the forest of memories that was my friend Gus. I’m thankful for the years we spent as friends, and the home and heart he had opened for me.

I miss you buddy.