27 Feb


Since we were both teenagers I’ve been watching Corby Yates perform and developed a friendship with him and his family.  For about 15 years I watched this young man play guitar and develop as a musician into one of the most dynamic acts I’ve ever seen.  In around 2008 he moved up to Northern California and stopped playing a lot of shows.  We were told he was having a hard time but never any details.  He played a hand full of acoustic blues shows but nothing electric for some time.  Finally, on May 1st 2012 he released “Inside Oblivion” and blew us away.  It was manic, syncopated brilliant guitar work and psychedelic to the core.  On September 24th, 2012, he killed himself.  We found out later that he had been battling schizophrenia for years and that it had worsened to the point where he didn’t recognize his own Mother at times and thought people were out to steal his music.  This poem based on a song by Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush called “Buddy”, which is dedicated to Jimi Hendrix.  The first 4 lines are directly from that song.  


“Buddy!  What has happened? Can you hear me friend?

Buddy!  I didn’t see this coming round the bend.

Buddy!  Is this the way your story ends?

Well rest down easy and I’ll carry on singing…”


I got the news through a text message. “Corby died.”

Just like that.


You were supposed to be the one

I grew old with, the one

who would take me on voyages

to times long past.

To Bats in the Belfry and

Fungus Blues and

Ti Na Ni Na Nu.

When all was changed and days

became numbered and

generations before us became Dust

and Memory,

there’d be you

to remind me of it all.




Now you are the memory

little wing.

The generations that should have been

dust by your passing

stand together to mourn

like the rest

with rounded shoulders and

bowed heads.  Hurting Inside.

 Spilling Salty Pain onto

Common Ground.




I can’t sing.  I try anyway

but it’s terrible.

What I can do is write

and I plan to do my part

to write your memory into existence

so the gift you tried

to share with the world

is never forgotten.



I’ll never understand your demons and I’ll never know your pain.  I cried when I listened to “Inside Oblivion” for the first time, when you were still alive and I let myself imagine that this was the album that would set you apart as the greatest talent of our generation.  It was so heavy and insane and raw and brilliant.  I had no idea the pain you were in, the pain and madness that created this catastrophic talent.  I wanted to write to you and tell you I cried and tell you that I hear Marino in all of it and tell you that your Fresno family misses you and tell you that Dad cried too and tell you that if I could see one musician, any musician in the world, perform anywhere, I would choose a live Corby Yates show because there’s nothing better and nothing I want to see more in the music world than you perform this new music live.  Nothing.  But I didn’t write that letter.  I didn’t send that email.  I didn’t make that phone call.  And I know it wouldn’t have mattered.  I know now that by that time you were so consumed by your demons that you sometimes didn’t recognize your own precious Mother so you likely wouldn’t have even known my name but I still wish I would have said it all, so there it is my friend, I hope you hear it.

Rest easy Corby and I’ll carry on singing…

1 Comment

Posted by on February 27, 2013 in Uncategorized


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One response to “Buddy

  1. Steven Johnson

    September 6, 2014 at 11:48 pm

    I heard him in SLO with his dad backup. Amazing, to the soul, Jimmy. Just realized what happened. So sad. Such a great spirit.


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