Scorchers’ Drummer Perry Baggs R.I.P.

 

Was integral part of the punk-fueled insurgent
country movement. He’s pictured, above, in the rear behind Scorchers frontman
Jason Ringenberg.

 

By Rev.
Keith A. Gordon

 

It is with
great sadness that we report on the death of Perry Baggs, original drummer for
cowpunk pioneers Jason & the Nashville Scorchers. Baggs was found in his Goodletsville, Tennessee apartment on
Thursday morning, July 12, 2012; he was 50 years old and had suffered from
severe diabetes and failing kidneys for years.

 

Baggs
joined with singer Jason Ringenberg, guitarist Warner Hodges, and bassist Jeff
Johnson in 1981 to create a genre-busting sound that blended guitar-driven hard
rock with Nashville twang, the band inspiring the entire “No
Depression” movement and Americana musical style. Baggs spent 20 years
with the Scorchers, surviving the rigors of the road, but ill health caused him
to retire from the band in the 1990s. Baggs was still called upon to add
backing vocals to songs on the Scorchers’ 2010 “comeback” album, Halcyon Times.

 

Baggs
worked as an archivist in the library of Nashville’s
Tennessean newspaper for 17 years
before being forced to accept a
forced “buy out.” Because of his worsening health, Baggs went on
disability while he worked to get a kidney replacement. In recent years, he was
involved with the Scottsboro First Baptist
Church, playing bass guitar and singing during services.

 

Having
known Perry personally, I can say that his death is a damn shame. Baggs was always
full of life and funny as hell. He was a good drummer with a lot of energy and
stage presence, no mean feat considering the high-octane frontmen he played
behind in Ringenberg and Hodges. Baggs was also an underrated songwriter, and
he penned some of the band’s best-known songs, including “White Lies”
and “If Money Talks.” Baggs was honored along with the Scorchers in
2008 with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Americana Music Association.

 

One of my
favorite memories of Perry was getting drunk with Tom Littlefield of the
Questionnaires while watching Perry perform a solo show at the tiny Elliston
Square club in Nashville. His set was a revelation, Perry playing an acoustic
guitar and belting out mostly original songs that mixed up rock, country, and
gospel music from a chair on the small stage. It was one of those truly magical
moments that don’t come along all that often, and I’m glad that I was there to
witness it happen. I’m proud to say that I shared a beer (or three) with Perry
on more than one occasion. R.I.P. you crazy bastard…

 

 

 

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