RIP: Kathi Kamen Goldmark, writer, musician, friend of LOUIE

Last week, we lost another friend to cancer.

Kathi Kamen Goldmark, the woman responsible for the creation of the band known as the Rock Bottom Remainders, left us on Thursday.

It’s a shock that someone like Kathi would die.
I had no idea she was even sick.

Just a few weeks ago, I got an email from Kathi inviting me to the monthly Los Train Wreck jam at the El Rio in San Francisco. Once a month, she and her husband Sam Barry would host these little shows where anyone could show up with some sheet music, and get the Train Wreck band to back them up on a song or two onstage.

I didn’t make it to that show, but apparently, neither did Kathi, as her email mentioned that the Flying Salvias (aka Kathleen and Henry) and the Bad Mommies will be filling in for Kathi & Sam that month. I can only guess Kathi wasn’t feeling well enough to attend, but I imagine she wouldn’t allow any annoying illness to get in the way of any fun events.

The first time I met Kathi was in 1992 when I heard about the formation of the Rock Bottom Remainders, a musical group made up of professional writers. I’d been in touch with Dave Marsh, who was about to unleash a book about the history of LOUIE LOUIE, which acknowledged my undercover work on the FBI files. Apparently this new band featuring Dave, along with Stephen King, Amy Tan, Dave Berry, Matt Groening, and other big names in the book biz would be unveiled in Anaheim, CA at the annual American Booksellers Association convention.

Not wanting to miss a potentially absurd moment in LOUIE LOUIE history, I made plans to attend this special event. Thanks to Kathi, I never had to worry about any admission fees or media passes. Kathi recognized what I was doing, and very helpful in making sure I had full access to this thing, including the special press conference.

I had a blast at the convention. I not only got a chance to meet many of the authors that were part of this band, but also met some unexpected celebrities at this convention, as it seemed like everybody had written a book they wanted to sell, and this convention was the perfect place to promote it.

The big show took place on May 25, 1992 at the Cowboy Boogie nightclub in Anaheim. I almost talked Richard Berry into attending this show, if not for another commitment he had that night. I remember every table in the club had a lyric sheet with the “FBI-interpeted LOUIE LOUIE lyrics,” excerpted from Dave Marsh‘s upcoming book on the song. After the show was over, I ran into Matt Groening, who drew some beautiful cartoons of Bart and Homer Simpson on on my lyric sheet.

Kathi was connected to some really cool projects. Before she assembled the Rock Bottom Remainders, she operated a company that specialized in escorting writers around San Francisco for book tours. It was actually this affiliation that led to the creation of the RBR band, as she discovered a lot of writers had unfulfilled fantasies of being in a rock ‘n’ roll band. Kathi was able to pull those fantasies together and made ’em real.

The one thing I loved about Kathi was her ongoing promotion of self-empowerment. After having way too much fun with what supposed to be a one-time performance, Kathi expanded the concept of the Rock Bottom Remainders band, bringing in new writers for the next phase of the band, which involved a tour, and naturally a book, “Mid-Life Confidential: the Rock Bottom Remainders Tour America with Three Chords and an Attitude,” published by Viking/Signet in 1994.

Soon afterwards, Kathi created a boutique record label, “Don’t Quit Your Day Job” Records, which listed her as both president and janitor of the company.

She recently co-authored with her husband Sam Barry, a book entitled “Write That Book Already!: the Tough Love You Need to Get Published Now,” published by Adams Media in 2010.

On the website she shared with her husband –, they are listed as “Author Enablers.”

One of my favorite projects Kathi ever worked on was “The Great Rock ‘N’ Roll Joke Book,” which she co-wrote with Dave Marsh.

On Google Books, one can see some silly samples of the book, guaranteed to entertain and/or annoy musicians of all walks of life…

Q: What do you call guys that hang out with musicians?
A: Drummers.

Q: What did the bass player get on his IQ test?
A: Drool.

Kathi did a lot of amazing things in her life. I knew one of her big projects was producing the weekly radio show West Coast Live on KALW, which also transmitted live-to-satellite, as well as webcast all over the world.

Kathi received a lot of awards for her achievements promoting literacy, creative writing, freedom of expression, and so many other causes. There was even a “Kathi Kamen Goldmark Day” declared in San Francisco on November 8, 2008!

Looking at her website, I see that she was scheduled to appear at various Bay Area events to promote a new anthology entitled “Exit Laughing: How Humor Takes the Sting Out of Death.” For this new book, Kathi shared memories of playing the kazoo at Jessica Mitford‘s funeral. At the event planned for next Thursday (May 31) at Keplers Books in Menlo Park, Victoria Zackheim and Ellen Sussman are planning on dedicating this event to their friend Kathi.

It’s interesting to note that almost 20 years to the day after the infamous first Rock Bottom Remainders show in Anaheim on May 25, 1992, Kathi passed away on May 24, 2012.

And then, there’s that “rosebud” statement…..

Kathi will definitely be missed, as Planet Earth loses yet another absolutely charming and very funny human being.

Meanwhile, here’s a little video clip from the first Rock Bottom Remainders show, featuring Kathi and her friends…

…and some other photos from the E.P. archives!

(click on any of ’em to see bigger, hi-res versions)

The official Kathi and Sam webpage

Wikipedia on Kathi Kamen Goldmark

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