Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, Local Music,   From Issue 624   By: Al Hellus

19th October, 2006     0

Editor's Note:

The tri-cities lost a rare ingredient of our local music scene - not only a vital participant, but also a true 'fan' in every sense of the word - with the recent passing of William 'Shabazz' Harris.  Honored numerous times over the years at our annual Music Awards Ceremonies by fans enamored of his percussive abilities, Shabazz was a true supporter not only of our Awards Ceremony, but of all those that worked behind the scenes and off the stage to bring the artistic significance of our community to a higher level.  To commemorate the contribution of this totally unique personality, I asked Al Hellus, his good friend and founder of 'The Plastic Haiku Band', to pen a few words for this edition.

By Al Hellus

In Saginaw, he was known as Shabazz - "a living marvel." Around Detroit, they called him Buddy. He was born William D. Harris: a mother's son, a professional boxer, a working man, a father, a musician, a brother, an inspiration and all points in between.

Ask anyone - there isn't anybody that has anything bad to say about the man and, just as amazing, there wasn't anybody he himself had a bad work for.

There are a thousand and one things I'd like to say about my brother Shabazz, but I can't because too many trees would have to be sacrificed in the making of the paper. So I'll settle for these few words and a photo.

It's us, the Plastic Haiku Band, July 29, 2001. We'd put together the first poetry, jazz and blues show for the White's Sessions. We needed a band photo so once everybody had settled in, we headed out to the alley next to the bar. I handed the camera to Monica Rico and she commenced taking pictures. Most of them were the usual thing: a group of guys standing around looking like a band. Then there was this momentŠ

Monica said, "Look sexy" or some such thing and Shabazz, smiling into the lens, muttered something smart-ass and we all busted out laughing. The shutter clicked, we laughed all the way back into the bar and played a good gig.

After I got the photos back, I asked the fellas what it was he's said. Nobody remembered. I asked Shabazz - he didn't either.
It's my favorite photo of the band, and especially Shabazz. The man could laugh, and he could get the rest of us laughing too. While I always liked performing, with Shabazz around, I liked rehearsals even more.

I'll spare the trees and leave it here, believing I speak for a large number of people who knew and worked with Shabazz: Sad as I am that the man is gone, wasn't it a gas knowing him? To walk the same streets, inhabit the same space, share the same laughter? If we meet one cat like that in the course of a lifetime, we're blessed, and always will be.

And, grammar be damned - he ain't never gonna not be here.

ah, he was a helluva percussionist, too.


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