Punk legend and Dead Moon founder Fred Cole passed away Thursday, November 9th following a battle with cancer. He was 69 years old.
Cole’s wife and bandmate, Toody Cole, announced his passing in a statement posted to Pierced Arrow’s (another of Cole’s influential projects) Facebook page. You can read her statement below.
Fred Cole moved to Portland, Oregon in the late 60’s while on tour with his band the Weeds, and it was in Stumptown that Fred met and married Toody. The pair raised their family in Portland and Alaska and formed several bands over the years, including the Rats, Pierced Arrows and Dead Moon. The couple remained largely inseparable over a love affair and creative partnership that spanned decades, and had most recently been performing as an acoustic duo, Fred and Toody, following the death of Dead Moon drummer Andrew Loomis in 2016.
Cole’s influence on the punk and garage rock scenes of the Pacific Northwest was incalcuably large, and his bands’ influence would eventually spread across the globe. Of Cole’s many bands, Dead Moon in particular achieved legendary status and was renowned around the world in rock circles—so much so that the band toured Europe successfully before they’d even embarked upon one in the United States.
Although not a widely known act by the general population, inside the music world Cole and Dead Moon were held in the highest regard. For example, Pearl Jam covers Dead Moon’s “It’s OK”, Cat Power has covered “Johnny’s Got A Gun” and A Place To Bury Strangers put out an entire album of Dead Moon songs called Strange Moon. The band’s unique and influential story was captured in the intriguing 2006 documentary Unknown Passage: The Dead Moon Story.
Despite Cole’s advancing age and looming illness, his performances remained affecting, and he himself endured as a positive, endlessly admired member of the Portland music scene until his death. To quote something a friend ecstatically screamed at me as we watched Dead Moon tear through a set at Portland’s Music Millennium on Record Store Day 2015, “Goddamn Fred still plays like lighting!” Fred always did. Rest in peace.