Kostas Kostadinos (bass) Orbituary

I just got a call from Greece telling me that my very good friend Kostas Kostadinos decided to take his life in Naxos Island, Greece two days ago – they found him yesterday.

Kostas played electric bass on two tracks from Scale – ‘Money’ and ‘I Am Me and She Is She’. I especially loved his playing on ‘Money’ as we were both super broke at the time and the song seemed perfect for us to do together – he definitely knew how to play the stretched out blues.

When I visited him in Naxos at New Year 2005 he was in a very dark mood – not even my producing a CD he was on could rouse him. He was motionless and his language was peppered with negatives. His tone dropped into nothing before sentences were over. My senses were picking up real danger from him and a visited him a couple of times over the next few days before he headed out to Athens.

He was excellent with his hands and he had helped restore a fretless acoustic bass that I had. He gave it to me there complete at Christmas. He looked after it when I wasn’t on the island because he liked to play with a crazy drum maker on the other side of the island but the fella distrusted electricity and consequently chose to have none….it was always a long story with Kostas but never a dull one – you always felt reassured that your life was movie standard when he was around.

He told that in the past he had been admitted to a mental institution and that he was a manic depressive. His heart was big and true but he had scars of kinds I wont go into here. It is the nature of bass players musical role that they are the medium between the rhythm of drums and the chordal/melodic nature elements. So too in non musical life was Kostas a glue between elements when he was around – people felt like things were ‘solid’ and ‘taken care of’. He wasn’t precious with reputation and he spoke his mind. It’s a bass player thing you see….

His marriage ended more than 10 years ago and he then moved from Athens to the island of Naxos where I met him for the first time – a place called JamBar. A pub which had music gear for local or visiting musicians to jam on…hence the name. I met the owner first and he told me someone would come down and play bass and drums later on. ……Kostas came in with his big eyes, round belly, curly hair and mischievous smile… dressed terribly… but he pulled out a vintage Fender, got a joint arranged and asked what key we were in. We had a great jam – I played electric guitar and sang while the insane bar owner (another story) played lead guitar….a novice drummer fella leathered a 4/4 beat for hours…you don’t have your pick of drummers on the islands…it was a great night….highlights were a version of God Save the Queen by the Sex Pistols…

From there I got to know Kostas more and more – even when Jam Bar became enemy territory we still hung out at one anothers place on the island. Kostas made money from jewellery during the summer and in the winter tried to co-erce the rest of the musicians on the island to get a band together … his tenacity was admirable but I knew he was disappointed with the others and their efforts…islands have alot of social freaks that retire there and it can get difficult in trying to get progress. Even the folk music was locked up so tight that they didn’t want a sacrilegious bass guitar to be in the equation. I felt for him.

I knew all those times I called his phone in January when it was disconnected that he was slipping and I couldn’t do anything about it. Those that are serious about suicide never tell you they are going to do it. What a quiet place that decision must be taken in – where nothing moves and the world begins to look like a photograph that’s already fading. I’m angry at him but it’s ultimately his call how he plays it. The last thing I said to him was “don’t leave the island without telling me.”

His wonderful kitten was stolen from him last summer and he was so skint five years ago that he had to kill 8 puppies from an accidental massive litter by his own hand – he couldn’t afford to feed them or pay the vet. I remember his face telling that story. I remember him being so broke that he practically only ate spaghetti for months and him driving with no brakes on his chitty chitty bang bang motor for ages…I remember him playing bass in my tiny recording room in the belting heat with his top off and big hairy belly out…I remember sharing beers and chat’s about philosphy and life and music. I remember his help and I remember him breaking the mould of my preconceptions about Greek men.

I don’t have a photo of Kostas but I can remember him vividly. A poet with a couple of lines I didn’t understand.

Suck life dry people….all hail to a great man Kostas.

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