Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Another Friend Goes Down Hard

My friend of over 30 years Dan Achen has passed away.

Danny passed on Monday while playing hockey in Oakville. He apparently had a heart attack on the ice and the local paramedics were unable to revive him.

I first met him in May of 1977 when he was just out of high school in Regina and looking for a job. The construction company I was working for hired him and Danny came to work with us building the cable TV system. We hit it off right away and even though Dan was a real firecracker and could be a royal pain in the ass he was mostly a ton of fun to hang around with.

Dan was blessed with a great family a good head on his shoulders and wicked sense of humor. He was always enthusiastic about life and especially about the things he loved most.

We shared a common interest in music and motorcycles and Danny always had a good nose for a deal, wherever it might be found. The two of us were always buying and selling cars and trucks and bikes and usually ended up with the other's wheels at some point before they got traded off to some unsuspecting third party. We played pick up hockey on outdoor ice in Regina at 40 below... we hung out in the local clubs and we just had ball being young and single guys.

I helped Danny sort out the first real motorcycle he owned (little dirt bikes don't count). It was a blue 72 Norton Interstate with a soft engine and a ratty seat and paint. We got the thing running half decently and had a ball riding out to Fort Qu'Appelle just to tool around the curvy roads or often to hit parties around the lake. I ended up buying that lump from Danny a couple of years later and revived it with some new parts and paint. It was around that time that Danny bought the famous Suzuki GS1000-S. (Incorrectly remembered by Junkhouse Bandmate Tom Wilson as a Kawi Ninja)

In any case all those old rides we shared are now long gone and we both managed to survive them and ourselves.

The other main interest Danny and I shared was guitars. I remember the first electric he bought back in 77. It was a nice little Les Paul Junior that he found in a classified ad and bought for some ridiculous low dollar amount. I think it came with a clunky little Gibson amp that he should probably have kept.... but traded for a nice Fender Twin Reverb. As I recall ... both the Junior and the amps were subsequently traded for something else along the way, Danny being the young wheeler and dealer that he was.

At this time Danny was still pretty much learning how to play guitar and I didn't have much in the way of finger calluses either. I've still got the Mel Bay guitar method and Chet Atkins chord books books he gave me. There's a beat up Ibanez six string with the hummingbird motif that I've laid to rest from a terminal case of wood fatigue that warped the top into the shape of soup spoon and there is my prized custom Telecaster. I bought that guitar from him and the Toyota Corona his mom had given him .... then Danny used my money to help pay for that infamous Suzuki.

After 1980 when Danny headed out to Ontario and I relocated to Winnipeg we never saw much of each other. We got together a couple times in Ontario to head out to some of the old clubs. We got together a few times when Danny was on the road with the band and passing through Winnipeg.

In the years that I have know Dan Achen I have very few regrets. One of those regrets is that I never got to meet his wife and son. Another is that we never got a chance to play together again.
I regret that we never got together for a fast ride around the back roads of the Niagara Escarpment. I regret that my friend could not have had a long life.

Thanks for everything Danny ..... I'll treasure the Tele and the memory of our good times for as long as I live.

Your pal,

OMMAG

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8 Comments:

Blogger WomanHonorThyself said...

I am so sorry for your loss my friend...how beautiful to have known someone for so long..........Bless you.

3/17/2010 11:13 PM  
Blogger lumberjack said...

So sorry to hear it. It sounds like he got the most out of the years he was given though. RIP

3/18/2010 12:09 AM  
Blogger talnik said...

Sorry for your loss, OMMAG. Best wishes to his family.

3/18/2010 6:17 PM  
Blogger OMMAG said...

Thanks ....

3/18/2010 9:20 PM  
Anonymous TimL. said...

I've been fortunate enough to befriend Dan as he produced my band's last record, and he was set to record our next record soon.. I've met Dan's son Riley and have seen them together many times.. Dan was so proud of his son. He treated Riley like a best friend, not just his son.. It was really nice to see. Dan was a just a great dad. ..and one of the best guys I've ever known.

Thanks for writing about him here.. It's comforting to know he touched so many people's hearts in so many places all over this country.

Tim.

3/21/2010 1:53 AM  
Blogger Gino said...

if only we were all as good and deserving to have inspired a friend to write so eloquently at our passing...

best to you and to dan's family.

3/21/2010 3:10 PM  
Blogger OMMAG said...

Thanks again Tim and Gino...

The thing that really gets me about Dan's passing is that I've always felt we'd get the chance to hang together again. It's a thought that stays in my mind still.

3/22/2010 9:45 PM  
Anonymous Michael Chambers said...

Thanks for sharing your stories about Dan. Even now, almost four months later, it's hard to believe he's gone. I feel very lucky to have worked closely with him at his studio over the past three years.

One of Dan's closest friends, Ian Smith, wrote a song called Passing Trains very soon after Dan passed away. We recorded it at Catherine North, and it was the first new project we started without Dan.

We're releasing the song today, July 13, in honour of Dan's birthday: http://www.catherinenorth.com/2010/07/tribute-to-dan-achen-released/

7/13/2010 3:06 PM  

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