The last time I saw Rick Bryant was the Friday before he passed on December 4, 2019. He had asked me to deliver a Fruju to Ward 67 at Auckland Hospital. It was a swift walk through Grafton on a sweaty Friday, so as not to deliver a melted glob of yellow on a stick.
Rick and I had become close over the years, after sharing the bill at the Half Moon Festival in Thames back in 1987. Rick was a father, brother, uncle and mate. He always encouraged me creatively and spurred me on to better my education, even if it was by the way of self. We shared a number of tours in vans and conversation value was always tops. Talk could turn from Egyptian history to lamppost erecting.
If you ran out of things to say, you just had to breathe in the air, and dream looking out the window. We would hole up for days at a time at the Grand Hotel in Invercargill and Rick would man the landline setting up the next stretch of the tour.
He knew all the best coffee places in every small town. He would not tolerate bad coffee. When we were recording his first solo album, ‘Time’ at the Green Door bookshop, his coffee was so strong that I would have a daily nervous breakdown. Well, coupled again by just breathing the air.
Many people saw Rick as New Zealand’s Van Morrison. I saw him as Marlon Brando. He was an Aries after all. With my astrological disposition, I couldn’t help but point this out to him. Of course, he thought star signs were BS, but he loved Brando and the comparison.
When we recorded our last session in Ponsonby he couldn’t walk and sat separated from the band, with a microphone, cueing the sections of the song. Just before take one of One Blood I popped my head around a bookcase and offered lovingly to Rick, “Don’t f—k up.” The smile was wide.
Our final conversation was about writing, and then we got on to the importance of “post intimacy cuddling”. We put paid to that one pretty fast as the nurse walked in. I realise that Rick mentored and was close to so many. I got to tell him I loved him a lot. I am glad about that.