The amazing true story of Grindhowl Screech!
Esteemed friends and stockholders,
When I stopped to pick up a hitchhiker just outside Bridgetown, WA in November 2016, I could never have dreamed that it would be the start of a life-changing friendship.
The stranger who climbed into my rental car was wearing motorcycle leathers and sporting a white, wispy, tobacco-stained beard. He introduced himself as Leon. We talked about music for twenty minutes on the way into town. As I was dropping him off, he reached into his black leather jacket and gave me a CD: Grindhowl Screech – Inevitable Scars from a Reckless Existance
Three days later, on the drive home from Sydney Airport, I listened to Leon (aka Grindhowl Screech) for the first time. Within seconds, I knew I’d been given something special.
Leon and I started a friendship via mobile phone and he sent me several more of his albums. I uploaded them to my Bandcamp page, where they soon became more popular than my own music, with renowned American bluesman Charlie Parr numbering among his fans.
Leon was delighted that people were listening to his songs at last. He told me he’d been giving away his CDs to truck drivers for years and had never heard a word. Any money I got from downloads I sent to Leon. We talked long into the night about life and friendship – two men from different worlds, at opposite ends of the country – united by our love of music.
Running out of time
Then, in March this year, Leon called to tell me the news that he was dying of Cirrhosis of the liver, and the doctors had given him only a matter of weeks to live.
I asked my friends Simon and Leonie at The Ageing Revolution for financial support to get Leon a new Zoom Recorder to replace the faulty machine he’d been using to that point. They said yes. This meant that Grindhowl Screech could start writing and recording music again.
Then something quite amazing happened. Leon gave up drinking, and his body recovered enough that he was now eligible to receive a new medication. A local photographer named George Stewart took some stunning photos of Leon. My sister Melanie turned them into some cool album artwork, like this:
Leon has been inspired by the artwork and the interest in his music to record two EPs worth of new material in the last three months. The latest is called Love is Gonna Come. Love is Gonna Come is a tribute to me, my sister, Simon, Leonie and all the other people whose small acts of kindness have empowered Leon to keep living. He calls us his “Enigma Family”.
It’s been six months since Leon was told he had three weeks to live, and he says he’s never felt better. He’s creating new music, that he knows will be listened to, and feels that his once-lonely life is now full of love, purpose and inspiration.
But here’s the thing:
Leon’s still got cirrhosis and still has a limited time left, so we, his Enigma Family, want to capture him on camera so we can share his energy and spirit with the rest of the world, before it’s too late.
I’m going to fly back to WA and drive down to Bridgetown to reunite with Leon for an interview. The two of us have not met in person since that 20-minute car ride two years ago.
We’re going to film the interview and use it to create a mini-documentary.
Leon has also entrusted me with the honour of picking my ten favourite Grindhowl Screech songs for a compilation album. We’re going to get the album mastered by Grammy Award-winning engineer Willy Bowden and combine it with Leon’s lyrics, George’s photos, and Melanie’s artwork to make a beautiful album package. This will be a dream come true for Leon, who told me earlier today he feels “like a kid on Christmas Eve just thinking about it”.
Will you join Leon’s “Enigma Family”?
This week, The Ageing Revolution and I started a crowdfunding campaign on Chuffed.Org to raise the relatively small amount of money we need to help us make all of this happen as urgently as it needs to. We’ve got some great rewards on offer for our supporters, including a copy of the CD signed by Grindhowl Screech himself. So if you would like to be a part of this story then please visit our campaign page today and consider making a small donation to make a big difference in a man’s life.
Thank you for reading this far, and for all the messages of support you’ve sent me since I first shared this story.