This guy. Bob Bennett. Larger than life in many ways. Passed away a couple of days ago. If you ever went to The Casbah in San Diego then you probably saw this guy holding court in the back bar. He acted like he owned the joint. Because he did own the joint.
This guy had a way with style and could rock an old man jumpsuit like no other. When he ambled down the street in Little Italy in broad daylight he was the picture of sartorial splendor. He had cool hats and jackets and funky shirts and amazing slacks and shoes. He knew style. He knew furniture. His eyes twinkled with jaded knowledge and mischief.
This guy came into my life years ago. I used to go all alone to a San Diego bar called The Pink Panther. I was a student at USD. I watched him from a distance. He was cool. When he regaled you with a story his voice could go from sing songy to high pitched and then back down lower all in a span of twenty seconds.
I was playing music years ago in the eighties with Robert Driscoll in a duo called The Rugburns. Every Friday night we'd park our arses and guitars on stage at Kelly's Pub in Old Town. We would get drunk and poor pitchers of Guinness on our heads and all over the audience and the curtains would get ripped down by me in my drunken stupor. The place would be packed and eventually this guy started showing up. I knew who he was. He had a sort of an aura about him. He liked a stiff drink and stiff drinks were easy to find at Kelly's.
One night this guy introduced himself to me and told me he was one of the owners of a new bar called The Casbah and that he loved how much fun he saw us having on stage. He said "my partner Tim Mays books the place but I'll tell him I want you guys to play a show." I said "I know who you are. I used to go to the Panther and saw you at the bar many times. We'll play The Casbah. We'll play anywhere. Even a laundromat. Just get us a gig." He laughed like I was kidding but I meant it. We did play a laundromat. A couple of times.
This guy came through with the gig and we spent many a late night closing down the back bar discussing anything under the sun. Holy crap we played a lot of gigs at his club. Too many to remember. But it all started with this guy. When he spoke I listened. He seemed like he had all the answers.
This guy was more of a rock start than rock stars. He knew so many people and he even had his own driver! No shit! He had his own cab driver on call at all hours.
Sure he could be cranky and strong willed and bark at you like a Rottweiler but he had heart and soul. Man did he have heart.
San Diego is crying. I feel bad for Tim Mays and Michael Porter and Kathleen Robles and many many more whose hearts are sad. Too many to mention. We lost a good one. He was one of a kind and like Sinatra he did it his way. No apologies.
I loved this guy. Everyone did. We always will.
Bob Bennett- rock star, soul man, tender heart, court holder of the back bar, raconteur extraordinaire. Rest in peace my friend. You'll be greatly missed.