Friday, July 10, 2009

In Memory of Donnie McCormick 1944-2009

Donnie and "Bear" Sauls
Eric Quincy Tate. Kick-ass Southern rock. Smoke-filled bars. Lots of dope. Lots of whiskey. Lots of fun. Donnie played drums and sang. Bear, guitar. First time I really got to know them was when a little band I played in opened for them at a strange little cafe in Warm Springs, Georgia. Location of Roosevelt's Little White House and where Mr. Jimmy kicked off his run for president. Also the place where they cured polio. This would have been... oh, mid 70's. Sometime, somehow, someone thought it would be a good idea if one block of downtown Warm Springs became an Old West tourist trap and the cafe we played in was like one you see in the movie westerns. A stage, a balcony, a dance floor and a long bar. Anyway, after our band got through fucking around EQT took over and rocked the place down. There ain't nothing like a summer Georgia night and a saloon full of rock n roll. One of the players in my band was the manager of a farm just outside of LaGrange, Georgia, the Rose Hill Farm. About 750 acres or so. In the middle of the farm, on top of a small knoll, was a swimming pool. At least that's what we think it was. In an odd place for a pool and it was an odd pool in-so-far as it had no deep and shallow end, it was all deep and, being spring feed from a deep spring, cold as hell. Cold enough to throw the kegs and watermelons into to get them cold. My friend decided that the pool would be a great place for a 4th of July party. Set up a flatbed truck with a tent over it. Ran electricity out to it and invited everybody. All our musician friends. Of course, EQT was there and so were many of the Capricorn cats. At one point I was privileged to share the stage with Chuck Leavell who played with the Brothers and Sea Level and for the past 10-15 years, keyboard for the Stones. Sometime in the afternoon, someone found a mess of meadow mushrooms and the party really got down. Lasted all weekend. One of the best weekends of my life. Skinny dipping. Fat Shirley screwing in the bushes. Another close friend often played congas with the band, Conga Jerry. He's got some album credits with The Marshall Tucker Band as well. Jerry told me a story once which illustrates why EQT, despite opening for the Brothers, Charlie Daniels and packing out the house, why they never hit the big time. It seems as though they had a gig one night in Chattanooga and rented a U-Haul for the trip. Three guys in the front and three in the back with the equipment. No doubt copious amounts of weed and who knows what else figure into this story, but they loaded up the van and hit the road, Donnie at the wheel. After about an hour and a half, the guys in the back, Jerry among them, needed some relief and started pounding on the wall to get some attention. Finally the boys up front heard the commotion and pulled over onto the side of the road. Everybody piled out and and formed a pee line when Jerry saw the fateful sign. I-75 Chattanooga Right Lane. It seems as though for the past hour and a half they had been driving around the I-285 beltway and had never left Atlanta. The boys just never quite figured out that Show Business is two words. The story is also a good life lesson, half the battle of success is simply showing up. Last time I saw them was a few years back when I happened to be in Atlanta and read that they were playing in some dive out near Tech. I went to check it out and it was like walking back in time. Smoke-filled honky tonk and Southern Rock. Had a great visit with Donnie and Bear, drank to much, and surely lost some more of my hearing in the process. But loved every minute of it. Altogether, the guys played together for 37 years. Rest easy Donnie. Thanks for the memories.


  1. Yep it's not hard to let go of a friend you know had a life and lived it.

  2. I loved Eric Quincy Tate and have seen them dozens of times. We must be the same age because we listened to all the same music.

    Was the place you saw them last the Northside Tavern? Great blues spot.

    Lord knows I guarantee you that we've run into each other somewhere sometime over those hazy years.

  3. Thanks Punch and WM.

    Peach, yes, I think it was the Northside. In fact, the picture just below the title was taken there. My good friend and ex-bandmate, Danny plays guitar, or used to, a lot with them and I was actually hoping to catch Danny there but he didn't play that night.

    If you've see EQT a lot then you've certainly seen Danny. Big guy. Sweetest blues licks on earth. And I mean that, sweeter than BB.

    Our paths probably have crossed. Maybe in our different posts we will actually come up with the time and place. That would be sweet indeed.

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