Bruce Roehrs, RIP: “What’s Left?” May 2010, MRR #324

See You Fucks at the Bar

Bruce Roehrs was MRR’s longest running music columnist. I’ve laid out the columns section for the past fifteen plus years, and what always impressed me was Bruce’s dedication to his writing. He didn’t type, and didn’t want much to do with computers. Yet month after month he turned in a column written longhand, on half a pad of yellow legal paper, four to six lines scrawled to a page. This, of course, meant scrounging up someone to type Bruce’s words into the magazine’s computers. I typed in one or two of them myself, when Tim Yo was still around.

Bruce’s take-no-prisoners style of music reviewing always seemed extemporaneous, off-the-cuff, jotted down in a fit or a rage. He was notorious however for rewriting long after deadline. Have you ever wondered why Bruce’s pieces consistently appeared toward the end of the columns section? It wasn’t because MRR considered his stuff an afterthought, to be tagged on at the end. Bruce frequently tinkered with his columns—rewriting, adding, revising—well after the columns section was laid out and the magazine ready to go to press.

Bruce’s columns were also the most edited (read censored) in the magazine’s history. He often liked music and bands whose lyrics and politics were thoroughly un-PC. And a Roehr’s music review was nothing without copious quotations from this or that song’s often-offensive lyrics. Beginning with Tim Yo, and continuing through every subsequent set of MRR coordinators, Bruce’s columns were regularly scrutinized and his words routinely excised, to satisfy the magazine’s standards of political correctness. Yet Bruce always deferred to this editorial control, affably accepted the changes to his writing, and continued to write for a magazine whose biases time and again infringed upon his self-expression.

Much will be written about Bruce’s friendship and loyalty, his sense of humor and raucous storytelling, his passion for and knowledge of punk music whether live or recorded. It’s all true. He was a nice guy, gracious and old-school. What I remember about Bruce was how polite, courteous and respectful he was. I think of Bruce as gentlemanly, even with his bare knuckled, into the pit approach to both music and life.

I miss him. Punk rock, this magazine, and Bruce’s friends and family have suffered an incalculable loss. I wish I believed in a soul and an afterlife, in the comfort of perhaps seeing him again some day. Bruce Roehrs is gone, and I miss him.

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