Friday, February 22, 2013

Happy Birthday Demri - A crew guy recalls..

By Tony Taylor - "The Roadie"

Having lived in downtown Seattle as a teenager, I was socially awkward and did not have much of an artistic identity in the midst of having a dream to be an artist.  There are a few individuals that I can say helped me to come out of my shell and develop one.  Demri Parrot is one of those individuals.
She was the girlfriend of Layne Staley, the singer for Alice in Chains.  My boss (Mark Naficy) at the time was their sound guy, and we their crew.  We supported every live event they had from late '88 to the mid-'90s.  I had often seen Demri at shows but talked to her seldom at parties after the events.

Layne was protective somewhat of me.  I was a minority, and stood out.  Often teased, but Layne was always quick to defend me, and at times would ignore others around him and spend time with me, I believe as a display of friendship and acceptance.  And also as an external display of loyalty.
I appreciated his gestures, but often would be irritated with him when he would try to hang with me afterwards.  Mark wanted us to have a separate identity than the band, and other than being host for the parties, he did not like us mingling much.  Buddah was practically the only one that could get away with it.
Anyhow, I had been invited one evening in '91 to go to a party at Demri's place in the U-District.  I thought it would be fun to get away from the crew, and just hang out with some friends.  I went with Mike Starr, but as soon as we arrived, he took off with some girl.  I remember hanging out on the patio in the front before the entrance to the house.  There was a lot of debauchery going on inside and I was a bit afraid to go in, so I stuck to the deck.  At one point I had to use the restroom, and was blushing at a few things happening walking through the house. 

I did not see Demri right away, but she caught me walking out of the restroom, and was really surprised to see me.  She proceeded to introduce me to a few friends with her arm locked in mine.  She had a way with being funny in the moment, and having others around her as part of the act.  So for the next two hours, I was "Side Show Bob."  It was great, and all was good with the world.  I left the party shortly after. Layne had made sure I had enough to eat and drink, and had a ride home (I think Jerry took me back that night).  The week afterwards was awesome. There was another Alice show, but this time around, their friends treated me as more than just a crew guy.  I had a special feeling about living my own dream as a musician and felt I could with a little confidence and the right friends.  My next year would be focused on mastering my craft and coming into my own, so to speak. 

So there Demri was a year later, Christmas of '92, offering me a big Christmas-wrapped box with a card from her and Layne.  They seemed very selective with their gift giving, so I was surprised at the gesture.  I remember she said something like "You look too nerdy for being in such an awesome band."  I had a band called "Mean Tangerine" and we were just getting started.  We were really good but never thought my wardrobe was an issue.  So I open this gift to find much of Layne's show clothes from the early days.  I was happy with the gesture but was bummed to be given 'hand me down' clothes.
So Demri sees my reaction and says, "These are not just clothes, they are moments in Layne's life, his sweat.  See?  Smell." (as she pressed the arm pit of one of the shirts on my nose)  And as you would have it, she obviously did not wash the clothes before giving them to me, either.
Layne follows up with "I expect you to wear this when we come to see you again, so no disappointing us!"  And actually, I did wear the clothes.  Also, interestingly enough, Mike Starr thought he would take me shopping soon after to the Army Surplus store to dress me up, how he put it, "Dress me proper!"  That is another story.

All I choose to see or remember is the good in people. That is an endearing quality I have as well as a curse.  But at the end of the day, I think about people that have helped me with my own personal development, and someone that made me realize that my sweat could make a difference to what I wanted.  It was Demri.

Happy Birthday big sister.              


Tony Taylor
NAF Crew - 88-93