I’ve considered Bob Asprin a friend for some years. He was never a close friend, by any means. I don’t have the long history with him that many others in the community did. But we knew each other, spent many long hours talking at various conventions, and he was someone I liked and admired. I’m very sad to hear of his sudden passing.
Gafilk was very pleased to have him as our Guest of Honour at the fifth Gafilk in 2003. (We knew he’d never be able to turn down a fifth.) He was concerned when we invited him, because he hadn’t played music in public for a number of years, but we convinced him that we wanted to honour him for all he’d done for the early filk community. He was a blast, and afterwards he started showing up at more filking events in the southeast, which really made me happy.
Funny story about Bob from that Gafilk. Gafilk V was the second year that quadrivium was providing the banquet entertainment — at Gafilk IV she’d played solo, and when we asked her to do it again, she said she would but only if she could get some people to play with her. So the banquet that year featured her on piano, with kiltedwitch on bass and spambrian on drums. We were sitting at the head table with the rest of the concom and guests. As the performance really started to kick into gear, Bob started getting more and more agitated, and finally muttered “I can’t listen to this.” and got up and left the room. We were a bit baffled at this reaction. Later, he explained that he was nervous as hell at having to follow that with his own concert and had a good old fashioned stage-fright panic attack.
He needn’t have worried. He went up on stage, did his old material and had the audience in the palm of his hand. Bob Asprin was always a great showman. Towards the end, someone asked him about the Kipling cycle he often would perform in midwest circles, and he said “Oh yeah. I haven’t done those in years.” He then proceeded to do the entire cycle. Off book. Flawless.
Time to crack open the old favourites this weekend. Thanks for all the stories and the songs, Bob. My world is a bit smaller today, but all the richer for what you left behind.