Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Earl "Bubba" Maddox 1957-2013

Posted By on Tue, Mar 19, 2013 at 12:42 PM

"I've got cancer." These are the words my dear friend Earl Maddox spoke in an unusually subdued phone call to me last June. It was the beginning of his final journey, ending on Sunday, March 17, 2013, when he passed away peacefully at the home he shared with his Mother, Marion Hardwick, in Augusta. Earl, who had been such an integral Redneck Underground journeyman, playing in numerous local bands including my band Slim Chance & the Convicts, was a force of nature, a wiry bundle of energy who never met a stranger, who could and would figure out a way to fix whatever needed fixing, and who hardly ever stopped talking. He went after the disease with the same gusto he did everything else in life, balls out and ready for whatever challenge came up, but this time the disease won. Earl was allergic to the chemicals in the chemo solution, which caused more harm than good, and the radiation had the well-known side effects that almost killed him. But he tried. He tried holistic juicing, visualization, everything he could think of or was told might work. His body, now compromised by other health issues, simply couldn't fight the cancer anymore.

Born in Augusta, Earl discovered music early on, and one of his first band gigs was with the Grease Guns, which included Gregory Dean Smalley, who would later move to Atlanta and help create the legendary Bubbapalooza festival at the Star Bar. When Greg succumbed to AIDS related illness in 1996, it was Earl who helped take care of him to the end. His devotion to his friends was that strong.

Earl's involvement in the local music scene was fairly comprehensive. Always willing to sit in with a band and try new things, he is remembered for playing drums with four different bands at one particular Bubbapalooza festival. In addition to the Grease Guns, at various times Earl was a member of many bands, including the Convicts, Gregory Dean & the Bubbamatics, the Chant, and the Diggers, among others.

Earl eventually relocated to his second home - New Orleans. Picking up his music, he played frequently with Grayson Capps and the Stumpknockers, even touring Europe for a short time. Having found a way to get involved in film, he became a fairly popular bit actor, and appeared in films such as A Love Song For Bobby Long, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, The Gift, and many others. His various roles included a drug dealer, farmer, preacher, convict, and even a racist. During his film career, his infrequent but always entertaining phone calls were filled with anecdotes about his interactions with various celebrities and upcoming roles, Earl's message being "I'm having the time of my life." Sadly, when he became ill, he was unable to complete a part in "Django Unchained" written exclusively for him by Quentin Tarantino.

Earl's many friends in New Orleans took good care of him during the early phase of his illness, and his Mother Miraim stayed with him while he was going through treatment. Sadly, Earl's younger brother Paul passed away in October, followed by his estranged Father's death in November. Earl and Marion moved back to Augusta, and he spent his final months back at home, enjoying occasional visits from his many friends.

Earl Maddox was truly one of a kind, a lover of life who found great pleasure in the simple things - friends, family, lovers, adventure, and in the arts. The loss is immeasurable to those of us who knew and loved him, and had the great pleasure to be his friend. There are so many great Earl Maddox tales that his life story could be a film. He is survived by his Mother Marion and several other family members, hundreds of former bandmates, and thousands of dear friends. A memorial celebration will be held sometime in the future.

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