Friday, October 29, 2010

The Thin White Line man has left us

I just found out today that Pittsburgh lost another great performer. Bobby Porter was the singer of numerous bands, most notably Thin White Line, of which there were several different lineups. He was truly an unique fixture in Pittsburgh, a black guy hanging out at punk clubs with people who were several years - decades, even - younger than him. And singing in a voice that you'd think was closer to Otis Redding than anything else, but he was fronting a hard rock band. His voice was a force of nature.

The first time I ever saw Bobby perform was in the studio of CMU's radio station WRCT-FM. Like many of his performances, he started doing cartwheels and jumps around the room during the guitar solos. He also whipped out a pair of nunchucks (sp?) and even after he thwacked himself in the head and started bleeding, he continued to pour his heart and soul into the music as if it hadn't happened. I was 18 at the time and had never seen that type of intense focus on the music.

Bobby could be a loose cannon. I regret to this day the fact that I published a flip comment by a local musician that apparently got him clocked in the puss by Bobby. I was very young and naive and wasn't wise to the idea of things being off the record, thinking that everyone in this town got along, and it pains me to think about that. The point is, Bobby didn't take any guff and could be intense. But he was always nice to me whenever we saw each other. He had experience in the Viet Nam war so I'm sure there were demons he was battling. But he's in a better place now.

Thanks for all the great performances, Bobby, including all those a capella renditions of "Dock of the Bay" at last call. They were something.


Michael said...

Since I am far away, I only have sketchy information from the Yahoo group to which we both belong. Your blog is my confirmation that Bobby has died. I tried to see if there was any information in the Post Gazette, but could find none. I hope to see RP at the Colbert/Stewart function tomorrow and we will share a tale. Thanks for the blog, Michael. RIP Bobby.

Michael Butscher

shanleymusic said...

Michael, if I see any info I'll list it here too. So far, it seems like nobody knows anything except that his cancer had gotten the best of him.
Who's RP?

shanleymusic said...

Just found this on the PG website:

Steve H said...

Thank you, Mike. Like many of us, it seems, we only heard when it was too late. And like you, I have some regrets involving Bobby. But I do not regret the times we rocked.

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Ben said...

I caught Short Dark Strangers a couple years ago in Cleveland when they played the 9 Shocks Terror benefit reunion show. I loved it. So good.

However, I've never been able to find any of their swag. Does anyone have any of their albums or CDs, or anything I could download? I'd be more than happy to pay.


shanleymusic said...

Ben - I know there were some cassettes released in the '90s by Thin White Line, maybe even a 7" but I don't have any of them. In the early '80s Bobby's band Young Lust released a single. I saw it at an estate sale but the shlub running the sale got all caught up in the fact that the band put "limited edition" in the cover art, so I put it back.

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