TOM DEQUATTRO: A LIFE WELL LIVED
Tommy with the Young Adults in 1987
For the past 30 years, Tom DeQuattro has been Jorge's (aka Rudy Cheeks) closest friend. As many of you already know, Tom passed away on November 1. To Jorge, it is no coincidence that the end came on All Saints' Day. Indeed, his family and close friends know he fit the definition of "saint" as well as anyone with the official designation. He was generous, kind, and fiercely loyal.
But he was best known as one of the finest and most versatile drummers ever to come out of Rhode Island. Tom was the original timekeeper in the Tombstone Blues Band, the most talented and influential local band of its time. Founded in 1967, the group was led by the legendary Ken Lyon and featured fellow iconic musicians Duke Robillard and Mark Taber.
Tombstone personnel changed frequently, making it the official finishing school for up-and-coming blues and rock musicians in the area — a designation that has, in more recent years, fallen to Roomful of Blues, whose original drummer was Tom's cousin John Rossi (they grew up next door to each other in a little family enclave on Sisson Street in Providence). Apparently Robillard, who started Roomful after leaving Tombstone, did not want to produce music without the Sisson Street beat.
Tom played with just about everyone and would work in blues bands, rock bands, jazz bands, whatever was available. Tom played an important role in shaping Jorge's band, the Young Adults — suggesting that the group hire the late, great Thom Enright. Tom made a more direct contribution too, playing the drums with the group whenever it assembled after its breakup in 1979.
After that breakup, Tommy, Thom, Adults bassist John Rufo, Chris Vachon (leader of Roomful of Blues) and Jorge started a project called Rudy Cheeks and the Works. It was doomed because the effort came too close on the tail of the Young Adults and clubgoers were disappointed that the band's circus-like act had left town.
After being inauspiciously booted from the band he founded (Roomful), Duke decided to start a trio and, with the demise of the Works, was able to cherry-pick Enright and DeQuattro for Duke Robillard and the Pleasure Kings. Anyone who has the records or got to see them play knows that this was one of the best, fullest-sounding trios of all time. Duke and the PKs traveled the world for years and Jorge fielded phone calls from Tommy in Finland describing the wonders of tundra delicacies like reindeer. Jorge is sure Santa would have loved the band and forgiven the members their trespasses.
Tommy eventually moved to Florida and played with a variety of bands and musicians in the Cocoa Beach area, where he was highly respected and deeply loved. But that's just the resume stuff.
Even if you met Tommy outside of music (no easy task, since music was his life), his personality and presence was memorable. People loved Tommy passionately. And Tommy lived passionately, too: he loved life and was a true friend.
Jorge doesn't know anything about the afterlife — and just enough to get by in the here and now. But one thing he does know is that Thomas DeQuattro's powerful spirit is still among us and will endure forever. Jorge has been greatly blessed to know him. A funeral mass will be held at St. Robert Bellarmine Church, 1804 Atwood Avenue, Johnston, on November 10 at 10 am.
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