Bob Girouard: Never Give Up

In my high school study hall, I was reading the latest issue of Downbeat featuring Max Roach, Frank Capp, and Bobby Colomby who were featured on the cover. Bob Girouard noticed it immediately and asked if he could check it out. That very 1960s moment was the beginning of a lifelong friendship… We started talking drums, and the rest is History.

"Bob is an inspiration for all of us. His career has covered a lot of ground and his drive and love of drumming is something we can all learn from." - Rob Wallis

Over the years, I have seen Bob go through good times and bad. Musicians know the struggles to succeed. Bob understood this perfectly, yet never gave up. When stricken with Parkinson’s disease in 2003, the challenge became even greater. With each passing day, the God given drumming talents that Bob possessed were slowly fading away.

Previous to being diagnosed, Bob worked steadily with a number of successful groups. His greatest notoriety came with the band Forest. They toured on the East Coast circuit with a potent line-up of truly amazing musicians. At one point they were ready to sign with MCA records. A sudden change in company management caused the deal to fall through. It was a painful moment for the band so Forest took the master tapes and released their album independently. Although recorded in the 1970’s, their music remains fresh and vibrant to this very day. They were recently featured on the Atomic radio network with a Forest retrospective, coupled with live interviews. Based on listener calls, Forest’s album continues to be popular in both Germany and Japan.

I first met Bob Girouard when I was The Band's Road Manager in the 1990s. Bob worked for the City of Albany promoting cultural events. Being a drummer, Bob of course loved Levon Helm. Bob truly believed in the Brotherhood of the Drum, and still does to this day. He would book any band that Levon was part of, out of love and respect, plus a strong desire to be near Levon and Randy Ciarlante, our second drummer. His incredible devotion to drummers, drumming and good music is legendary in our circles. As Levon got sick, and our bookings dropped off, due to the fact that he wasn't singing Band songs, Bob never wavered. He would book Levon and the Barnburners (Levon's blues band) whenever he could. Oftentimes this helped Levon pay his mortgage.  As Bob got sick himself, and his ability to drum waned, he took up writing about drummers. His devotion and loyalty to the brotherhood of the drum stayed strong. As my late friend Richie Hayward got sick, Bob wrote eloquently to help Richie's cause. After Richie passed Bob's eulogy was the most touching I ever read. Levon's health also declined and, whenever possible, Bob's writing would boost Levon's spirit and help in his struggle to live. Bob's devotion to drumming and drummers wasn't reserved for the big stars. Bob championed lesser known drummers, and always promoted quality music everywhere. Now Bob has resumed drumming even after brain surgery, and during his life's struggles. I, and the Brotherhood of the Drum, salute Bob Girouard's courage, strength and devotion.

Long may he wave.

Respectfully & Gratefully Butch Dener The Band (ret.)

A large contingent of upstate New York bands gathered to honor Bob with a fundraiser- “Boogie for Bob” to help defray his medical costs. The remaining portion, was donated to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Disease research.

Over 300 people attended the venue to help the cause. All the groups donated their performances.

“Boogie For Bob” featured:

  • Hair of the Dog: Famed Irish, roots and rock band, and a major draw in the Northeast.
  • Aged in the Hills: A Country institution since 1978 *Note: This was Bob's first drumming affiliation when he moved to NY from Mass. in 1986. The band charted in the top 20 nationally with the single, "Cafe Romance," B/W "Cajun Two-Step."
  • Ernie Williams Band: In honor of the late "Ambassador of the Blues", they performed. Ernie was a fixture on the local/national blues scene for decades...opening several times for the recently departed, B.B. King.
  • Blues House Rockers: Featuring the creme de la creme of blues musicians in the Albany, New York region. They have played with blues/rock icons Little Feat, and Delbert McClinton.
  • Diva and the Dirty Boys/Urban Gumbo: An exciting blend of the best traditional R&B musicians w/classic covers, then morphing into Urban Gumbo, segueing into songs from the brand new 2015 album, "Hard Times for Love”, (of which Bob co-produced and played drums).
  • Forest: Throughout the 70s one of New England's most critically acclaimed bands. A mainstay in clubs, colleges, and concert halls… It was an original sound that meshed the popular genres of the era: blues, rock, country and jazz, a hybrid between the Allman Brothers, Doobie Bros, Steve Miller, and Steely Dan, with some of the finest musicians to ever come out of Western Mass. Musically, no matter what he's done since, Bob's history begins and ends with this band. According to Bob:  "They'll never be another band like Forest...the brotherhood, the musicality, and the respect between each other as people."

Bob played and sang a few tunes throughout the show, although his condition made it difficult, His sheer determination helped him get through it. The event was a fitting tribute to a musician who continues to be loved by many.

"An excellent musician and accomplished writer...THE G-MAN RULES!! I'm proud to call him one of my best friends..." - Dino Danelli

As Bob’s disease continued to advance, he was determined to find another way to stay musically involved. He began writing for Classic Drummer, and Elmore Magazine, and is now writing for Modern Drummer; In 2013 he wrote the cover article on Dino Danelli. Another gathering of Forest alumni is scheduled for later this year, and all proceeds will be donated to the foundation for Parkinson’s research.

Bob Girouard is more determined than ever to keep on fighting. Even after recent brain surgery and a daily regimen of numerous medications, music is a constant presence in his life; he continues to remain optimistic about the future.

With a friendship that goes back over 45 years, Bob recently requested this author become a permanent member of the Forest family.

Musical Artists Interviewed by Bob Girouard:  (2005-present)

  • Carmine Appice ( drummer, Vanilla Fudge, Rod Stewart)
  • Max Weinberg ( drummer, Bruce Springsteen, Conan O’Brien
  • Kenny Aronoff (drummer, John Mellencamp, John Fogerty)
  • Brian Auger (Brian Auger’s Express)
  • Charlie Adams drummer,(Yanni)
  • Ray Benson (Asleep at the Wheel)
  • Johny Barbata (drummer, The Turtles, Jefferson Airplane)
  • George Brown (drummer, Kool & The Gang)
  • Clem Burke (drummer, Blondie)
  • Pete Best (original drummer, The Beatles)
  • Hal Blaine (Session/drumming great: The Beach Boys, The Righteous Brothers, Sonny & Cher, etc.)
  • Gary “U.S.” Bonds (R&B Great)
  • Deborah Bonham( sister of Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham)
  • David Brigati (vocalist, Joey Dee and the Starlighters)
  • Eddie Brigati (vocalist, The Rascals)
  • Paul Barrere (guitarist/vocalist, Little Feat)
  • George Frayne (Commander Cody of Commander Cody & his Lost Planet Airmen)
  • Jeff Chonis (drum technician to Ringo Starr, drummer for The Beatles)
  • Doug Clifford (Creedence Clearwater Revival’s drummer and now CCR Revisited)
  • Aaron Comess (drummer, The Spin Doctors)
  • Gene Cornish (guitarist, The Rascals)
  • Bobby Colomby (producer/drummer: Blood Sweat & Tears)
  • Larry Campbell (multi-instrumentalist/band leader Levon Helm Band)
  • Felix Cavaliere (organist/lead vocalist, The Rascals)
  • Mickey Curry (drummer, Bryan Adams)
  • Micky Dolenz (drummer/vocalist The Monkees)
  • Kal David (guitarist/vocalist The Fabulous Rhinestones)
  • Burleigh Drummond (drummer, Ambrosia)
  • Liberty DeVitto (drummer, Billy Joel)
  • Dennis Diken (drummer, Smithereen’s)
  • Dino Danelli (drummer, The Rascals)
  • Grahame Edge (drummer, The Moody Blues)
  • Steve Gadd (drummer, Paul Simon, James Taylor, Eric Clapton)
  • David Garibaldi (drummer, Tower of Power)
  • Sandy Gennaro (drummer, teacher: Cyndi Lauper, The Monkees, Pat Travers Band)
  • Steve Gorman (drummer, The Black Crowes)
  • Richie Hayward (drummer, Little Feat)
  • Levon Helm (drummer, vocalist, actor: The Band, Levon Helm Band)
  • John Hiatt (singer, songwriter)
  • Brendan Hill (drummer, Blues Traveler)
  • Graham Hopkins (drummer, Motion Picture and Broadway musical, “Once”)
  • Don Imus (Radio & TV Personality)
  • Jai Johanny Johanson “Jaimoe” (drummer, Allman Brothers Band)
  •  Kenney Jones (drummer, The Faces, The Who)
  • Harold Jones (drummer, Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga)
  • Simon Kirk (drummer, Free, Bad Company)
  • Jim Keltner (drummer, George Harrison, Joe Cocker, The Travelling Willbury’s)
  • Gordy Knudtson (drummer, Steve Miller Band)
  • Russ Kunkel (drummer, James Taylor, Carly Simon, Linda Ronstadt)
  • Will Lee (bassist, David Letterman Show, The Fab Faux)
  • Terry Lickona (producer, Austin City Limits TV Show)
  • Corky Laing (drummer, Mountain, Corky Laing’s Memory Thieves
  • Chris Layton (drummer, Stevie Ray Vaughn & Double Trouble
  • Lyle Lovett (musician, actor)
  • Jim McCarty (drummer, The Yardbirds)
  • Sir Paul McCartney (The Beatles, Wings)
  • Delbert McClinton (R&B Great)
  • Neil Peart (drummer, Rush)
  • Slim Jim Phantom (drummer, Stray Cats, Dead Men Walking)
  • Prairie Prince (drummer, The Tubes)
  • Shawn Pelton (drummer, Saturday Night Live)
  • Dick Peterson (drummer, The Kingsmen)
  • Simon Phillips (drummer, Jack Bruce, The Who, Pete Townsend, Toto)
  • George G. Receli (drummer, Bob Dylan)
  • Cathy Rich (daughter of Buddy Rich and owner of Buddy Rich drum company)
  • Paul T. Riddle (drummer, Marshall Tucker Band)
  • Rick Shlosser (drummer, Boz Scaggs, Juice Newton)
  • Tommy Shannon (bassist, Stevie Ray Vaughn & Double Trouble)
  • Denny Seiwell (drummer, Paul McCartney & Wings)
  • Paul Shaffer (keyboardist, composer, musical director, David Letterman Show)
  • Yonrico Scott (drummer, Royal Southern Brotherhood)
  • Gina Schock (drummer, The Go Go’s)
  • Danny Seraphine (drummer, Chicago, and California Transit Authority)
  • Neal Smith (drummer, Alice Cooper)
  • Floyd Sneed (drummer, Three Dog Night)
  • John Steel (drummer, The Animals)
  • Ronnie Tutt (drummer, Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison)
  • Fred Tackett (guitarist/vocalist, Little Feat)
  • Roger Taylor (drummer, Queen)
  • Butch Trucks (drummer, Allman Brothers Band)
  • Derek Trucks (guitarist, Tedeschi-Trucks band)
  • Steven Van Zandt (guitarist/vocalist/actor, Bruce Springsteen and the E. Street Band, Little Steven’s “Underground Garage,” The Sopranos)
  • Chris Vatalaro (drummer/percussionist, Antibalas, Bat for Lashes, Imogean Heap, Brian Eno)
  • Rob Wallis (CEO Hudson Music)
  • James (“The Worm”) Wormworth (drummer, Jimmy Vivino and the Basic Cable Band) Conan O’Brien TV show