A overwhelming amount of love and support and tears.
Family, friends, rockstars, fellow roadies, even vendors came out in support of this guy.
He was well and truly loved, a spirit everyone wanted to honor.
35 is too young for any one to be done with this version of life.
The master of ceremonies, a well-spoken fellow, asked that we understand that not everyone could get up and speak about the way that Armand had touched their lives, so I was hesitant to share my stories and take someone else's spot. I had only been lucky enough to share one tour with Armand. A tour where I was the only female on the crew, a tour where i soon found that i had an extra brother in Armand.
I can still hear him, "That guy bothering you?"
Several times, the Zombie and SLayer crews had to crowd their gear in order to survive the rapid changoevers. Sometimes we were stuffed in to eachother's spaces, Armand and I both occupying the stage left corner, me at Rob's quick change, him tinkering with Kerry's guitars. He loved pretend-blocking my way. "Outta my way---dammmmnittt!"
Always with the "dammmmnnnnitt"-- especially if we ran out of popcorn in the production office.
I remember him telling me his Mom was ill, his frustration and lack of power to fix her was heart-breaking. That guy loved his Mom fiercely, as the good ones do. She must have been so proud of him, what he made happen in his life.
WHen I saw him after her death, he was raw, but he was happy that she was out of her pain.
I was at Tour Supply, just before working the Big 4 @ Yankee Stadium for Slayer last Sept, and I heard an unmistakable voice from around the corner, rattling off a list of things he was looking for. I snuck up on him, yelled "DAMMNNIT, they will let anyone in here" and got the patented ABC hug. He was so funny that day, giving me all the low-down, since I was only subbing for Kuney as the prod coordinator. "____ and ___ will need this, do NOT forget ____ and ____ etc" Always concerned with his crew's best interest, always looking after people.
He did not tech that NY show, due to schedule demands, and his absence was felt by all. Especially Warren, one of my favorite humans. Seeing Warren today, speaking the words I am sure he thought he had fifty plus more years to live before facing, I felt a crack in my armor, that's when it really hit me like a brick. Warren is fierce in his loyalty, and I can't begin to imagine his loss. I love you, Warren Lee.
One of his friends made everyone laugh today with the line, "Armand loved both kind of music, the Iron and the Maiden." It was such beautiful moment, to go from tears of sorrow to those caused by laughter.
Armand's cousin gave a brilliant little glimpse into him, he brought her backstage to a Slayer show, and before going in, she asked, "Are you ashamed to bring me backstage"-- indicating that maybe she was "uncool", and he said ".....Yes," which brought the house down. Always honest, always the arrow of truth! She went on in her story to say she was struck by how everyone was so nice to her and so welcoming, all of this done certainly as an extension to Armand, but also a testament to the great road family he had fostered. We are always glad to meet family, no matter how busy we are at our behind-the-scenes jobs. Several of the guys signing our paychecks at the end of the day showed up and gave tribute to ABC. It was a moment to reflect on while our jobs can be draining and possibly life-shortening, very rewarding. (i have heard a doctor say, one year on the road is equal wear on the body to five years in an office job...sounds accurate)
Many people at the service today mentioned that he was at his happiest at the very end of his life. I only knew him for a short time, and I didn't know Cass at all. But damn, he was so in love with her. The last time I saw him alive was the first and only time I met her, at a neighborhood bar, right before I went out on tour with Puscifer. He was on a break from GnR and so happy to be home with his lady. Today, it my heart broke watching Cass standing on that stage, struggling through her words, beautiful in her tears.
We all stop to think, how can I make a better life, how can I honor my family, my friends, my loves?
How can i make a bigger, better difference?" as someone said today, "How would Armand go about this?"
My eyes are swollen from crying but I know that i was one of the lucky people who got to share some time with him in his too-short stay here.
even Axl does a p.s. shout-out to ABC III in his open letter to the Hall of Fame.
May you rest in peace, you great big beautiful man. Much love to Cass and the whole extended family.