R.I.P. Fred Cole

photo by Victoria Holt

Portland musician and punk rock icon Fred Cole of Dead Moon and Pierced Arrows passed away last night, November 9, after a battle with cancer. The news was confirmed today by Empty Records co-founder Meghan Smith in the Dead Moon fan club Facebook group. You can read Smith’s full message below.

I’m so sorry to have to let you know that Fred lost his battle with cancer & passed away peacefully in his sleep last night, Nov 9, 2017. Thank you one & all for all the years & memories we all shared together, for being friends first & business partners second, so proud to be a part of your lives.
Fred had that quality of being “immortal” and I believe his songs & recordings will make it so. We can always hear his voice & his passion there and remember it like it was only yesterday & will go on forever. I love you all, Toody.
“The last train is leaving
Can’t you read the signals in my eyes
And I’m standing on the platform
Waiting for the ones I’ve left behind”
Fred Cole
Last Train

To say that Cole was a presence in the Northwest is an understatement. Cole’s career in music started in his original hometown of Las Vegas, Nev. where he recorded with his band Lords. Foreshadowing a trend that would run throughout his career, Cole played in an array of projects including Deep Cole Soul and The Weeds (later called The Lollipop Shoppe). It was a weird twist of fate that would originally bring him to Oregon. In, 1966 A Las Vegas DJ promised The Weeds an opening slot for The Yardbirds at The Fillmore in San Francisco, but when Cole and co. arrived no one had any clue who the band was. Before they could figure out what to do next, a car nearly hit the band on the sidewalk. Cole took it as a sign and impulsively drove the van north until they landed in Portland, Ore. The band began playing shows at a club called the Folksinger, where Cole would meet his future wife and collaborator Kathleen “Toody” Conner. From there he’d have a prolific career fronting Dead Moon, Pierced Arrows, The RatsThe Range RatsKing Bee, and Western Front.

For over five decades, Cole continued to find new ways to create and always pushed the limits of where punk music could go. His presence in the Portland scene and punk rock as a whole will be dearly missed. He’s an irreplaceable icon, leaving behind an incredible and vast body of work. Join us in revisiting some of his highlights below.










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One Comment

  1. sean
    Posted November 11, 2017 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    This band has been criminally underrated for decades. I’m really hoping KEXP does some programming for Dead Moon. The Weeds, King Bee, Range Rats, Dead Moon are all unbelievable.

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