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Garth McLeod’s nickname for me was Tannie Therese, which he teasingly pronounced with a strong Afrikaans accent. It was a nickname he gave me very early on in our friendship, about 1995. Sugardrive had just released their first album when I met him.
And Garth (pictured) was your typical drummer – very male, very straightforward, very uncomplicated. People always knew where they stood with him. He was a kind man who loved a good joke. In fact, every time we met it was our rule to tell each other a new joke.
Oh, and by the way, he was a damn fine drummer. Precision was all important. He was also fierce, beating those drums with mighty passion.
Sugardrive made me cry twice in my life. The first time was when they invited me to hear their second album, sand.man.sky. The music was so astonishingly beautiful, so unlike anything I’d expected from Garth and the boys, so powerful that it made me weep. I cried in the presence of greatness.
After listening to the album, I dried my eyes. Garth was the most anxious to hear my thoughts on what would be an album that changed the South African musical landscape.
“What did you think?” he asked eagerly.
“Yeah, it’ll do,” I replied, trying to hide my emotions.
When a close friend died unexpectedly it was sand.man.sky that helped me through the pain.
The second time Sugardrive made me cry was when they played their last gig. It was the Easter Rock Festival at the Rand Show. Thousands of people were there.
My friend, Nancy Hillary, who was Sugardrive’s manager, and I stood watching this fantastic band, driven by Garth’s perfect power drumming. They played their hearts out and all the memories of all the fun we’d had together with these guys came flooding back and it was heartbreaking to know that we would never again experience Sugardrive live. They were an exceptional band.
But Garth, being one of the best rock drummers in the country, was snapped up by Martin Rocka and the Sick Shop and, later on, Wonderboom.
He and his tight circle of friends are West Rand boys. And all of them, from Cito Otto to Wade du Plessis to Martin Rocka, Gavin Weinand and Paul E Flynn, proudly wear their white socks to represent “the West side”. He was not only a great drummer, he was also a good, dependable and loyal friend.
And for the past 10 years, he was not Sugardrive’s Garth, he was not Wonderboom’s Garth, he was Anne Marie McLeod’s Garth. He was a husband.
He will be sorely missed. This is the third time that Sugardrive have made me cry.