Too much loss at one time is hard to swallow but this one hit close to the bone. Ralph Bennett was one of my first bandmates and dear friend, that although time separated us – was always close to my heart with fond memories. There were a few other bandmates before him that I cherish but this was my first all original band at the young age of 19 and Ralph must have been about 16. Buddy Tricarik was also in the band playing drums -and providing a rehearsal space in his parent’s basement and what a young talent Buddy was. Buddy was only about 16 too and friends with Ralph. I believe, if my memory serves me right – this is how I met Ralph.
I was in college at the time going to Siena and Buddy and Ralph would come visit and perform with me at Spring Break events – at the College Rathskeller – City of Troy summer concert series and anywhere we could plug in and play. We released an album entitled ‘For Now’ the first year we were together and other than my unpolished singing – the album holds up well to this day. Ralph’s bass playing is wonderful and Buddy’s drumming is melodic and well timed keeping the songs in a nice clean organized flow. One of Ralph’s favorite songs to play was ‘Creating Giants’ – his bass playing is wonderful and if you weren’t told you wouldn’t know that ‘WaWa’ effect/sound you hear is his bass not my electric guitar. Here is the song if you would like to listen.
At that age we had fresh dreams – the name of our band ‘The Anomalies’ – given a chance and could surely prove those dreams real. And boy did we play with energy and passion. For the little experience we had – we made up the difference with exuberance and belief.
The thing that stands out to me most about Ralph when I think back on those days is our conversations about music and how we were artists first and foremost – musicians second. We enjoyed creating – the process of writing and coming up with parts to songs. Ralph’s creative spirit never left him – but it surely re-manifested itself into his love for family. His Wife Tricia and Mollie were his entire world – and that’s truly where worlds live. He worked until his recent retirement as a corrections officer – Ralph used to be a bouncer back in our band days but I’m guessing this job required a bit more education/training and diplomacy 😊 He had all the meaning a man could have – providing for his family. It’s so clear to me the love and joy he received from his family. It’s these things that drive us and make us a better people.
When I heard the news a few years ago, that Ralph had cancer and it was far along – I knew if anybody could fight it and had something to fight for it was Ralph. Ralph always had such a positive bright outlook and as the months and over a year passed, I started to wonder – maybe Ralph has this thing beat. Maybe he proved the doctors wrong – it was right up until the end that Ralph was posting things on Facebook and Buddy and I had seen Ralph during the summer for an afternoon dinner at a local steakhouse. We had a blast of course – telling stories – pranking each other – while embarrassing Ralph and Buddy’s wives who were sitting with us. You could see the toll Ralph’s disease had taken on him –but his face still smiled and his disposition was still vibrant. Ralph was always determined – always. Ralph was going to beat this -yes he was, and I started to believe it until I received the news from Buddy last week. I had to sit down to fully absorb this loss but Ralph didn’t lose – he won. He went down swinging – he went down smiling – he went down like a proud father – he went down like a loving husband – he went down for all that was good. This reminds me of a gig/show we were playing in downtown Troy one summer. We were on this beautiful stage with our backs to the Hudson River as we faced the audience in an amphitheater of sorts. There were fountains in front of us and somebody must have thought it funny to pour detergent into it the night before and there were giant suds/bubbles everywhere – foaming out of the fountain. During our performance Ralph slipped on the suds and fell into the fountain – he never missed a note/beat and as he came out – this giant glorious Suds Monster – Buddy and I did all we could to keep our composure and finish the song. Ralph always had this determination – come what may. Life is short – maybe some of us live a few more years than others and we all always want more time as I’m sure Ralph wanted – and it’s not fair – life isn’t fair and all we can do is our best to find meaning – to have the determination to follow our path day in and day out and Ralph did this – right until the end. Long live your memory in my heart Ralph – I will truly never forget you and I will play just a bit harder when you cross my mind during a performance. Love you Brother.
A Celebration of Ralph’s Life will be on Thursday March 30, 2023 at 7PM at the Bond Funeral Home 1614 Guilderland Avenue Schenectady. Visitation will be from 5-7PM prior to the service. Contributions can be made in Ralph’s memory to the American Cancer Society 33 Elk Street Suite 201 Albany, NY 12207. Click here for details.