I just learned that a longtime Philadelphia music scene legend, Tom Sheehy, who actually was known around town as “The Colonel” (as in Elvis Presley’s Colonel), has passed. I didn’t know The Colonel well, but he was a fixture at almost any national or local show of note from the start of my club-going days, in the early 1980s, through whenever it was in the last 5 or 10 years, when I first noticed I didn’t see his gaunt face and gray, thinning shag-pompadour in the crowd. His standing as a local scene legend far preceded the time I first got to know him. I’m sure Townsman geo, who goes back further and played in one of Kenn Kweder‘s lineups, which The Colonel managed and/or did publicity for, can fill us in on details.
I was never sure exactly what The Colonel did, how he paid his bills, how he was tied to all local music-related media (ie, clubs, radio stations, record stores), etc, but as I mentioned him being at “almost any…show of note,” he seemed to help define what constituted “of note.” When we’d see him in the crowd at one of my band’s shows, for instance, my bandmates and I would note his presence and get a little jolt of pride at the “scene blessing” we’d been given. Who knew why this felt good? Tom seemed like a nice enough guy, in the few, brief words we exchanged, but why the hell did we care that he was in the crowd?