The blues world has lost one of its own greats, and we have lost one of our best friends- Rock Bottom passed away on Friday, September 28th at his home in St. Pete, Florida from an apparent heart attack. The 53-year-old blues harpist extraordinaire had just returned from a three-week European tour and played his last gig at Mojo’s in Palm Harbor the night before he died. Known as the “Godfather of the Tampa Bay blues scene,” Rock (aka David York) stunned the blues community with his passing, and hundreds of friends, fans, and family attended his memorial service in St. Pete.
It’s very difficult to express how much Rock Bottom meant to us personally. He was our friend, confidante, and inspiration, and he was a major factor in our decision to relocate in Florida in 1996. Whether sharing the stage with him or sitting in the audience watching him do his magic, it was always a thrill to hear his booming voice, to listen to his rich, robust harmonica tones, and to enjoy his authentic blues, stage antics and frequently humorous songs. In many ways, Rock was the glue that held our regional blues scene together, and he was always an encouraging audience member at many of our gigs. Many of you have heard Rock on our “Walking Mary’s Blues” and “Six Fingers Boogie” albums.
A memorial tribute show was held at Classic Wax in Sarasota on Sunday, October 14th, with many of the musicians who had worked with Rock over the years performing to a packed house. The Suncoast Blues Society has organized another Rock Bottom Memorial Benefit at Skipper’s Smokehouse in Tampa on October 28th, so if you’re in the area, come on out and show your support. Rock’s CDs will be available at this show, and they can also be purchased via his website (you can access his site on our LINKS page); we own and highly recommend all of his albums! All proceeds will go to Rock’s wife, Maureen.