Collision Course

In 2005, a young woman bent on self-destruction intentionally drove her car into the back of another. She lived. Three musicians on their lunch break died. This year, as her prison sentence comes to its end, the case remains a tragedy without closure or explanation.

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In happier times: (far left and above) John Glick and his wife, Rebecca Crawford; (top) Glick; (right) Glick and Michael Dahlquist at work at Shure

 

Michael Dahlquist hadn’t been playing drums very long when he walked into a Seattle practice space in 1990 and auditioned for the founding members of Silkworm, who, up to that point, had been relying upon a drum machine nicknamed Lurch. Dahlquist had been driving a cab to make a living and, by his own admission, wasn’t a very good drummer. But, over time, the vicious way he hit the drums (often wearing nothing but boxer shorts and gardening gloves) evolved into a concise, if aggressive, technique. “Eventually, his drumming style was described as workmanlike; blue collar, lunchpail, hardhat drumming,” says Steve Albini, the renowned producer who recorded eight of Silkworm’s albums. “But I think that undersells his genius a little bit.” Five years after Dahlquist joined the band, Silkworm signed with Matador and then Touch and Go—two of the independent music scene’s most respected labels—and toured the world. 

Dahlquist’s friends describe a similar, far sweeter energy when he was away from the drums. “He could make waiting in line at the post office fun,” says a friend, Rene Usdrowski. Over the years, Dahlquist’s family and friends grew accustomed to his energetic phone calls, which came whenever he saw something unusual—a sunset, a constellation, fireworks. He didn’t meet people so much as he became instant friends with them. “After he died,” Midgett says, “I got dozens of emails from people all over the country who said Michael was their best friend.”

Doug Meis was also a drummer. As a kid growing up in Oak Harbor, Washington, Meis would practice beating his hands against his skinny chest even as he lay in bed. On weekends, he would don a pair of soundproof headphones, tune a radio to the local alternative rock station 107.7 FM, and from noon to 7 p.m. drum to whatever music he heard on the radio. (Those hours were scheduled out of respect for the neighbors.) As a music business major at Illinois Wesleyan University, he spent his Friday and Saturday nights in the school’s practice rooms, not because he was antisocial, but because he knew he’d have the rooms for as long as he wanted. “It didn’t matter what he was doing,” his brother, Scott, says. “Just as long as he had time to play the drums.”

Not long after college, Meis loaded up his car and headed to Chicago on a whim. “Nothing made Doug anxious or worried or depressed,” says his girlfriend, Jennifer Philbrook. “If he did get down, he’d say, ‘I’m kind of sad’—then, a little while later, it would pass.”

John Glick was a guitarist and, most recently, frontman of The Returnables. On stage, he moved with a confidence and exuberance that suggested rock star. Offstage, Glick himself wasn’t showy. He once told his bandmates that he’d much rather be known as a “cult star” and would feel validated by a review in the Trouser Press, an off-the-radar New York rock publication. His wish was granted after the 1999 release of the EP So When Can I See You Again? “It was music performed for the love of music and the camaraderie,” says a friend, Rhett Miller, lead singer for the band Old 97’s. “It was never driven by ambition or need for adulation." 

Glick, who was born and raised in Malden, Massachusetts, started reading when he was three and, by five, was writing poems and songs. (His sister, Emily Alston-Follansbee, recalls one called “John Glick’s Rock ‘n Roll Song.") From the time he was a student at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Glick formed bands with his friends, even rigging an audition so that one of his best friends, Jonathan Ben-Isvy, might make the group. Ben-Isvy didn’t know how to play guitar well, so Glick spent weeks secretly teaching him five Returnables songs. Later, as The Returnables set about making the liner notes for their first album, Glick insisted that all four members take credit. “He wrote the majority of the tunes,” recalls Ben-Isvy, who, as one might expect, passed the audition. “But he didn’t care.” Bandmates weren’t the only ones to know this side of Glick. If he had a great sandwich, he had to make you one. If he heard a great record, you had to listen.

“He just wanted to share things with people,” says his widow, Rebecca Crawford, “and the same could be said about Doug and Michael, too. They lived every day like that.”

Photography: (Dahlquist portrait and silkworm flier) Courtesy of the Dahlquist family, (Dahlquist and Meis) Courtesy of dougjohnmichael.com, (Meis, top right and middle right) Courtesy of Scott Meis, (Meis, bottom right) Todd Wilson

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