A Legacy of Respect and Support, Remembering the Impact of Chris Peigler
On January 8, 2014 the Charlotte music scene lost one of our most singularly important talents when our friend and inspiration succumbed to complications from the flu. There are not many things, new things, I could add to describe the life of Chris Peigler or encapsulate the rich body of work he left behind in the legacy of his untimely demise. Surely, over the past weeks, we have mourned his legacy, held impromptu wakes at Common Market -Plaza Midwood and also Lil’ Robert’s Place in Concord, NC. We attended his funeral, and waxed nostalgic about how Chris was an institution in our scene, someone who had seen so much, accomplished so many great things, and influenced so many in the short span of 50 years. I’ve been tasked in writing a bio of the man for a compilation CD set to be released later this month in his honor. The collection is called “Hostile Witness: A Tribute to the life of Chris Peigler”, an album whose proceeds will be donated to Peigler’s mother Hazel Peigler who Chris was a caregiver for. Produced by Liz Moss, the album features art work by Pete Hurdle and layout by West Hasty. “I had the idea a day or so after Chris’ passing while washing dishes. I threw it out there for Moss [Johnny Moss, Liz’s husband and Dirty South Revolutionaries front man] and he loved it” said Liz. “This project has been a test of everyone’s multitasking skills” she added with a laugh. “Other than the bands, I want to thank Rob Oi in helping me get the tracks to cd pressers” she concluded. Moss is accepting contributions through Paypal to support its’ production. Liz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The compilation will include tracks from dozens of bands either influenced by, or at the most inspired by Chris Peigler. Artists include My So Called Band, Proletariat Madonna, Rogue Nations, Intensive Care, The Wrecks, All Rise, South Side Punx, Minority Party, Aloha Broha, No Anger Control, Pinko, DSR, Baby Shaker, Coastal, The Stems, Live Grenades, Fill Ins, Biggy Stardust, ANTiSEEN, Step Dad SS, Ryan McGinnis doing acoustic version of Patriot Act, American Murder, 25 Minutes To Go, Flat Tires, Beatdowns, Hate Junkie, No Power, K-9 Unit, Ray Gradys, The Rockit Pops, Chalkies, Am-Fms, Claypool, Prick Bigot, The Blind Dates, Not Likelys, Tax Slave, Black Out The Sky, Appalucia, Hectagons, and Snagglepuss. Copies of the album will be available at Tremont Music Hall’s soon to be formalized Peigler Fest on February 15.
But what is there to say specifically about our friend’s legacy? I was not particularly close to Chris outside of the occasional punk show. So when approaching this piece, I went to mutual friends and encouraged them to share their remembrances. When I asked his longtime friend and confidant Robin Lincoln, for her insights into his legacy, she said “Simply, he (Chris) strove for all of us to be supportive loving beings of each other. Importantly, he lived his life by acting to make a difference.” Lincoln and Peigler were immensely close for over twenty years. She describes their relationship as the most intimate though never romantically involved. “Everyday, he lived his life accepting others and helping whenever he could to make other peoples’ lives better. His life was not one lived in vain; it was one cut too short.” Loren Morgan, another close friend added this about him. “Chris lived life in fast-forward, which was evident when you saw him on-stage. I always stood near the front, in case I had to help him up from the floor. I was always afraid he’d fall. When I shared this with him, he just laughed and said, “No”. I suppose he had more living to do in less time than we wanted” said Morgan.
Musical collaborator and life-long friend Ryan McGinnis had this to say, “I’ve never met anyone more passionate about building a community that was welcoming to all. His mentoring of young bands helped many a young musician realize their dream of going from playing house and backyard shows to playing actual venues in town. My hope is that we honor his legacy by respecting, honoring and supporting each other as much as Chris supported and respected each of us”. McGinnis played guitar with Peigler in the acts My So Called Band and Rogue Nations. Fellow Rogue Nations drummer David Loebs said “Chris always looked out for the people he loved. He was a mentor to me, and he taught me to let the little things go, there is no time for drama”. I hope I can play music with the passion he played with,and give back the knowledge he passed down to me, show the guidance he laid in front of me, and give back to this city everything that he gave me”.
The funeral service held in Concord was full of so many old friends in attendance that it felt more like a reunion than anything else. It was an interesting mix of traditional church going folk and senior citizens mingling amongst punk musicians and fans of punk sporting black leather jacket and hoodie sets. But we were all family and in a way that helped more than it hurt. The sense of comradery was welcoming because it tended to abate the oppressive sense of sadness from seeing our friend off. His eulogy was written by Chris’ cousin Jan Milsapps who included these references to Rogue Nation lyrics:
You can’t wait for someone to come and rescue you
You have to be your own badass in thought and in view
Loneliness will choke you if you accept the invitation
Let some rebellion poke through
And be your own rogue nation.
Thus, his final legacy, to choose to be your own rogue nation. I chose to be one of respect and support for my fellow humans, my friends in this scene and others like it. A community of so many rogue nations all come together.