Local music: Jerry Wick tribute

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

When the car crashed into him in the early hours of January 10, 2001, Jerry Wick was carrying a pizza home on his bicycle. Wick, the former frontman of Columbus punk band Gaunt, died 20 minutes later. He was 33.

Thus ended the life of one of Columbus music's unique characters, a fiercely loyal friend with aspirations nearly as big as his mouth. With the 10-year anniversary of Wick's death looming, friends and fans will gather Saturday at The Summit to perform his songs and celebrate his life.

Wick grew up near Cleveland and attended Kent State before moving to Columbus to pursue music. After forming the short-lived Black Juju, Wick started Gaunt in 1991. The band toured North America and Europe and recorded numerous singles, EPs and albums for labels including Thrill Jockey and Amphetamine Reptile. They signed to Warner Bros. for 1998's "Bricks and Blackouts" but broke up after getting dropped from the label.

Friends called Wick a walking contradiction, a guy who desperately wanted to be famous but would revile the thought of being in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was depressed but maniacally funny. He cared deeply for people but often spoke thoughtlessly.

"He was definitely a very hard person to love. He made it very difficult, intentionally so," said Bela Koe-Krompecher, a close friend who worked with Wick at Used Kids Records and released an early Gaunt single on his label, Anyway.

Koe-Krompecher remembered introducing his future wife to Wick, who attempted to protect his friend from heartbreak.

"He told my wife that night that she shouldn't go out with me - one, because I was still in love with Jenny Mae, two, that I was crazy, and I think he actually told her I was gay," Koe-Krompecher said. "It upset me so much I was crying."

Wick's death rocked a local music scene that had seen a lot of tragedy in that era, including the deaths of V-3's Jim Shepard and Monster Truck Five's Jack Taylor and Chris Wilson.

"It was shocking and unbelievable, but we thought shocking and unbelievable was happening all the time," said Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments singer Ron House, who worked with Wick at Used Kids.

Former Gaunt members Bret Lewis and Jim Weber organized Saturday's tribute. Lewis said they picked Jan. 1 because Wick's friends always gathered to play euchre on New Year's Day.

Two tribute bands have formed for the show; other performers include Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments, The Ferals, Necropolis and a version of New Bomb Turks fronted by The Patsys' Tutti Jackson. Proceeds from the $5 door charge go to the Columbus Music Co-op.

"[Wick] would definitely say this is retarded," Koe-Krompecher said, "but secretly he would f---ing love it."

Jerry Wick tribute

9:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 1

The Summit

2210 Summit St., Campus