Joe Shikany’s Last Waltz

Friends say goodbye the Rimrock way.

Rock stars deserve to die while simultaneously getting a hummer and draining the final drop of a fifth of Cazadores. That's a proper rock-star death. Joe Shikany's death was improper by such a standard.The 58-year-old Shikany passed away Monday, August 18, after being hit by a falling tree in a windstorm at a lakeside family reunion near his native Spokane. Shikany, long one of the hardest-working rockers in Seattle (he played in the Allies, Magic Bus, Spike & the Impalers, and the Paul Rodgers Band, to name but a few), was due to play the following night at the Rimrock in a band called N-Sane, one of three groups the guitarist played in with drummer Fred Holzman (see "The Lunatic Is on the Drums," SW, April 16, 2008). As word of Shikany's death spread, Rimrock owner Connie Dunn said the band initially decided to cancel the gig. But they soon changed their mind, instead electing to hold a spontaneous musical wake at the Lake City restaurant-lounge.And what a wake it was.The Rimrock comfortably seats about 60 patrons, yet there must have been a couple hundred on hand at Shikany's wake, including Heart's Roger Fisher, longtime P-I music scribe Gene Stout, and Shikany's closest contemporary, Lynn Sorensen. Behind the Rimrock's tiny stage were enormous pictures of the departed, and the first song on the evening's docket—after the obligatory "right on" toast—was a rendition of "You Are So Beautiful," performed by men who loved the man, Shikany.Holzman, for one, was visibly shaken. "I wasn't done with him yet," he said, speaking for everyone in the room.The following evening, Holzman and Dusty 45s guitarist Jerry Battista, who played in a three-man cover band called the Davanos with Shikany, took the Rimrock stage. The place was packed, albeit not flip-the-bird-to-the-fire-marshal packed like the night before. On Shikany's side of the stage, Battista lit some candles and began playing an acoustic two-piece set with Holzman on drums."It was a very difficult and beautiful thing all in one," Battista said. "[There were] a lot of leaky eyes."Alas, the beat went on. But the beat skipped a little, as it will in perpetuity.

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