Fluid’s Rick Kulwicki 1961-2011 R.I.P.


Gifted guitarist
helped steer the influential Sub Pop band’s visceral sound.


By Fred Mills


Very sad news to report to fans of Denver’s legendary grunge-era band The Fluid:
while details seem very sketchy at the moment, guitarist Rick Kulwicki apparently
died yesterday, Feb. 15, at the age of 49. Denver’s Westword reported the news early this morning, but no cause of death has been announced


Most media reports are linking back to the Westword account, but we’ll add
information as it’s disclosed. There has also been an outpouring of condolences
posted on the wall of the Fluid’s Facebook page, which additionally listed his
full name and date of birth: Richard P. Kulwicki, July 7th, 1961- February 15,


The Fluid, which was Sub Pop’s first non-Seattle signing,
was one of the most powerful acts of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s to emerge
from the hard rock underground; when yours truly saw them on one of their first
national tours, I was blown away by the charisma of frontman John Robinson and
by the sheer gale force energy of the entire combo. Kulwicki’s guitar was a key
component of that power, and his tuneful shredding can be heard all over the
band’s records.


In 2008 the group reunited after laying dormant for a decade
and a half for a series of reunion shows in Denver
and, most notably, in Seattle that summer for
the Sub Pop 20th anniversary concerts; they
also did shows in Hoboken and Brooklyn
in January of 2009. I interviewed vocalist Robinson around this time, and he
described the old chemistry this way:


“There is a piece of yourself that just is that. It’s
like an equation, and you might not have done that equation for years, but once
you do it, it becomes a complete entity that you download. Once you download
that, it’s just as complete now as it was back then.”


Our condolences go out to Kulwicki’s family and friends and,
of course, his bandmates in the Fluid.


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