Yesterday at about 6 pm, I received a phone call from Karen Bagarozza, Charlie’s wife, and before she spoke I knew what was coming. She let me know that Charlie had passed away on Wednesday morning. There have not been many times in my life when I have been rendered speechless or at a loss for descriptive words, but the time has arrived for me. I will try me best to let you know what you should know about Charlie.
I met him about 30 years ago, when Lillian went to New York for the first time to play, many shows of which were with Zebra. It was a wonderful and scary time for us, as we had never traveled so far away. Johnny Vines, Michael Maxx, Danny King, our crew and I took a van and a truck and drove to Cincinnati, Baltimore and New York for a 3 week run. I met Charlie at our first gig in New York, and I thought if everyone in New York was this genuine and sincere, this is going to be fantastic. 30 years later, I realize that there aren’t many people that genuine and sincere on the planet. We instantly bonded, at first for our similar musical tastes, but then because of our philosophies on life. We became friends, and over the years we always stayed in touch and saw each other every time we were in the New York area. Then after being the poster child for band abuse in the music world for many years, I decided I would rather keep my circle with people I trusted and loved. I asked Charlie to manage Lillian Axe. He accepted. He had never done anything like this before, and I have had managers of all shapes and sizes, but none of them had the heart and soul he did. He LOVED Lillian Axe, he breathed it, and he wanted more than anything in the world for the Axe to be the most appreciated band on earth. He and I shared all of the ups and downs, the laughter and the tears, and all of the roller coaster moments of being friends and working associates. Every time I was bummed, he was more bummed. When I was happy, he was ecstatic. He always told me how it upset him so much that Lillian didn’t get a fraction of what we deserved. He loved coming on the road with us. He was the true epitome of a music fan! NO ONE came close. But more importantly, he was one of my best friends.
I have lost 2 of my best friends in the last month, Charlie and Byron. Thank the Good Lord I had my time on earth with both of them, and I am still blessed to have several best friends and a beautiful family, and lots of friends still here. He loved Karen, his wife and his 2 dogs immensely. He loved my son Jude. Every Christmas and birthday, he and Karen sent him gifts. Jude called him Uncle Charlie. Jude and I sent him videos frequently saying hello, and I know Charlie loved him very much. I only wish he lived closer to us.
I ask you all to keep Karen in your thoughts and prayers, as she is his soulmate. I have some comfort in knowing that my family in heaven is growing and hopefully preparing a place for us that are still down here. I can hear him telling St. Peter to make sure Stevie has sweet tea in his dressing room. Thank you Charlie for being you. I love and will miss you, but I will see you on the big stage. Please make sure there is sweet tea in my dressing room.