INK AND DAGGER Singer Sean Patrick McCabe Dies at 27
I think that I have to put this to paper while everything is still fresh in my head. With time, the details of what I'm feeling will subside into one collective thought. I just found out that an old friend of mine had passed on. A lot of things will be said about him. He was well known in the Philly music scene, but I know him in a different way. I know him as the gooney looking kid in a Vision Street Wear T-shirt, sitting in the office of my middle school. He had just transferred in and it was my job to show him around. We found punk rock together. He introduced me to straightedge. We were in our first band together. He could be a pain in the ass, but he was my friend.
Monday August 28th
The telephone rang around 10:30pm, and usually this is no big deal. The voice on the other end of the line isn't familiar to me. Sam I'm sorry to call this late, I don't know if you will remember me.... (Note: When someone who you haven't seen in 7 years calls, it's probably not good news) It was George Chamberlain from Autumn. I meet George back in High School where both of us were in local bands. He was looking for a phone number that he thought that I might have. George then told me- you probably know this, but Sean McCabe is dead. He was found dead in an Indiana motel room. He was the first one to tell me.
Tuesday August 29th
I'm driving out the PA turnpike on my way to work and it hits me... McCabe is dead. I basically get to work and fire off emails to anyone I know who would be connected to this. I call my father and ask him to search the web to see if anything has been posted. Nothing in the paper yet. Nothing online either. I try to get some work done but I can't focus.
Mid-day I receive an email from the 4040 mailing list. This is the first thing that can verify McCabe's death. It's a very well written eulogy for a dead friend. The email was forwarded to me from a friend of mine that I have known almost along as McCabe. We all went to High School together. She told me that she thinks that the send up of McCabe is a bit romanticized. I agree. She and I tossed around feelings of being "evil" for being honest. Honesty in this case is a very humbling kick in the ass.
Wednesday August 30th
I in no way ever want to glamorize someone's demise through substance abuse.
Despite everything that McCabe had accomplished through music, my old High School friend and former band mate was dead because of ingesting to much alcohol. McCabe passed out due to drinking, and then choked on his own vomit. According to tests no drugs were found in his vomit. I can't help but feel that this is such a Rock and Roll cliché. After all, McCabe was 27, and how may other musicians have died at 27? And that is the part that is a real shame. Like him or not McCabe could stir people up. Any one who has ever spoken to him about music or read an interview with him knows that he was trying to create new ideas in, for lack of a better term- Punk Rock Music.
Now in recent years I didn't have much contact with him. I would go see Ink and Dagger on occasion.
McCabe always was very glad to stop and talk to me. I would run into him in Philly now and then. He would always give me his new phone number and want me to come hang out. This wasn't passe hipster bullshit either; this was an old friend wanting to catch up.
I never took him up any of his offers.
I don't regret this. I had heard many stories and fables but despite this I knew what McCabe did. Rumors are just that. In fact in an interview with Rocket Fuel McCabe was quoted as saying: "There is fiction in all fact and fact in all fiction". The Philly music scene was always full of gossip of his antics, and tour stories beyond belief. At the same time the last time I saw him, you could see it on his face. Another close friend of mine was telling me of his last encounter with McCabe saying that Sean's eye's were bugged out like door knobs, his lips were discolored and chapped but he was standing there talking like nothing was wrong. Something was wrong.
How do you say to someone- stop hurting yourself? I never had the chance I guess. I cannot resolve these feelings of guilt, but I can not hold myself accountable, either. McCabe took part in a complicated dance. At the same time he was smart enough to know the risk that he was taking. My head is still cloudy over this.
I don't know all of the details of his death. I just pray that McCabe passed quietly. I don't like that he died many miles from home, alone in an Indiana motel room. I will spare all of the bull that can accompany stories like this. I won't insult any one with some kind of grand statement about the tragedy of our generation either. I just hope that the ones who knew my old friend better in recent years, especially ones that also might be on a similar path, will get something out of the ugly ending. McCabe's music will survive him, and I hope that people will remember him for his work. I knew him differently, at a time when everything was new and we were just geek kids.
This is the good-bye that I never had the chance to say.
Sean Patrick McCabe
Nov. 13th 1972 - Aug. 28th 2000
Written By: Sam P.