The Fire and The Fury: A Tribute to Stephen Crocker
by: Leigh Stenhouse
Stephen Crocker, 27 years old, passed away on December 9th, 2014. He had attempted to take his own life and after a few days of intensive care he transitioned to the realm that awaits us all. Now that the grim details have been established, let us celebrate.
I met Crocker through music of course, the way he met all of us. He met every single one of us with a fiery passion, musicians and listeners alike. From the fury of his provocative verses that unfurled like defiant flags, to his own brand of “casual conversation” that could include topics as varied as hip-hop and theology, his conviction was undeniable. He loved music. He loved people. He loved to learn.
He was often criticized for voicing his beliefs. Sometimes he did so drenched in his own brand of sardonic humor. Other times, it was with a rage and disgust that only comes from loving humanity and seeing it fail. He sought to challenge you. He wanted to make you at least question your many pillars of thought. Questioning is one of the most powerful things we as humans can do. Remember; never blindly drink the Kool-Aid, kiddos.
In 2013 Crocker was scheduled to play Spartanburg’s Spring Fling. He was quickly removed from the line-up. As the story goes, complaints were made to the city concerning his lyrical content. Local news was abuzz with this hometown act that had been booted for the show. I had to smile when I watched the interviews; such opposition is made to embolden the provocateur. All of my favorite rock stars have been protested just as all the best books have been burned.
After many years making his own music, it was a natural step for him to help found a record label. Lovelorn Records was, and is, less a stodgy label and more of an artist collective. Musicians, poets, and artists of all kind are welcome and encouraged to help each other grow towards the greatest goal of all – creation.
The Lovelorn family has birthed many children into this world, with Crocker always at the helm. Albums, EPs, and even a documentary came from the hands of Crocker and his family of artists. He started with an EP entitled “The Story of Hansel and Gretel” with producer Jack Bandit in 2009. Currently the album “High Almighty,” by Walter Kronkite and Crocker, has been nominated for album of the year by the “No One Likes Your Band” podcast.
Crocker believed in every person he worked with. He believed we were all capable of such great things. This is what we all must do now as artists and people: question the status quo. Never be afraid to have an opinion, and voice it loudly if need be. Keep learning, keep progressing, and keep BECOMING!
After his death I heard some of the most beautiful tributes to his artistic soul. Here are some of the statements from those closest to him:
“Stephen wanted to change the world. He will continue to do so in the afterlife. Let’s honor him by truly living up to the potential he’s always seen in all of us,” said Hillary Keane
“Crock I’m gonna miss you brother. You were abrasive and unapologetic. I hope we can find a fraction of the passion you lived with,” Jack Bandit said.
Walter Kronkite reminiscent: “I can comfortably say I was an outcast. And for some odd reason you still hung around me, told me you understood me. You became my first and only real best friend.”
“Crocker wanted everyone to be the leaders and creative forces for positive change that he saw within all of us. The best way to honor his memory is to work on ourselves and be those people who he knew we could be,” added Caleb Naquin.
This Sunday, December 14th at Club Paparazzi in Spartanburg SC, there will be a benefit concert and celebration in honor of Crocker. The gathering starts at 6 pm and an open call has been issued to all fellow artists to come do what’s in their hearts to honor our fallen friend. Everyone is welcome to perform, which embodies the very spirit of what Crocker was all about. It is free to enter but donations are encouraged.
Crocker’s obituary can be viewed here, and it has been requested that in lieu of flowers, memorials be made to the American Foundation for Sucide Prevention or the Stephen Crocker Memorial Fund c/o Lovelorn Records, LLC. 1704 Keowee, Lakeshore Drive, SC 29672. Memorials for the AFSP can also be done via mail: 443-A Meeting Street, West Columbia, SC 29169.
Rest in peace, Spartanburg’s favorite “Bastard,”