Chris Gaffney, R.I.P.

Apr 18th, 2008 // 1 Comment


Chris Gaffney passed away yesterday after a battle with liver cancer. Gaffney had been a major part of the roots-rock scene in California for years, playing in Dave Alvin’s post-Blasters group as well as recording several albums under his own name. Gaffney was one of those guys working a regular job and playing gigs in crappy bars at night that never really got the sort of break his talent might have merited, but in whatever theater, nightclub or dive you caught his act in, no matter what spot he was playing that night, you were going to get a great show. I knew Gaffney most for his time in the Hacienda Brothers with former Paladin Dave Gonzalez, who had set up a base of sorts in my hometown of Tucson. The Hacienda Brothers played a ton of gigs there, and seemed to be making a move towards some sort of notoriety outside of the southwestern circuit they were loyal to, but his illness made that sort of fame impossible again. Gaffney, a hard-working, talented, unassuming guy and great musician, was 58, and there’s a site to help cover his truly ridiculous medical bills. [HelpGaff]

  1. Ned Raggett

    Read about this this morning — very sad news, especially since he lived in the same town as me; I knew his name more than his music but he always sounded like an all right guy, and it’s a shame that Buddy Seigal already passed on since he’d do an absolutely wonderful memorial for him.

    Mike Boehm, who was one of the bright lights of music coverage in OC for many years for the LA Times, has a fine obit up which is worth a read. A great detail:

    Gaffney accepted the bar-musician’s lot with equanimity: “I was a working guy before becoming an unheralded roots-music recording eminence, and I continue to do that. If they don’t want to put out an album, I’ll go and do my day job,” he told The Times in 1999. What sustained him, he said, was “the music, and I love the people. You surround yourself with good friends, and you’re good to go.”

    Starting in 1999, though, Gaffney got to live the life of a musical road warrior, with Alvin and then the Hacienda Brothers, touring extensively through the United States and Europe. Alvin said he soon learned not to give Gaffney a weekly advance on his meal money: “He’d give it to some homeless guy or a guy standing at a rest stop begging for change.”

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