Two-thirds of the legendary Dead Moon. If you only read one of these, read this one.
(Much of it is lifted from this article, this one, and one I can’t find again now)
Fred Cole was born 28 August, 1948 in Nevada. He’ll be 68 at Meredith.
When he was just 12, he had his mind blown by seeing the soul explosion of the Ike and Tina Turner Revue at a concert hall in his town. (She is electricity. She is religion. She is drugs. She is everything.) There’s only about 20 people there, but it was then that his rock ’n’ roll heart first chugged and heaved into motion.
Cole got kicked out of school four days into his junior year. He’d just seen the Beatles live in Vegas and decided to grow his hair out long. The principal of his high school gave him an ultimatum: cut your hair or else. Cole’s response was not surprising. “I said, ‘Fuck you, I’m outta here.’”
By 14, he was performing as Deep Soul Cole, “The White Stevie Wonder” with an all-black rhythm-and-blues band. By 16 he was already a garage-band veteran, with a career in Las Vegas with his band, the Lords, at the Teenbeat Club, and a single titled "Ain't Got No Self-Respect”. Sometimes he would make his entrance from the back of the hall, walking on the tops of seats and over heads toward the microphone while the band blasted away onstage. He learned how to play strip clubs, how to get arrested, how to escape a girlfriend’s angry father by jumping out of a second-floor window.
In 1966 his band The Weeds gained notice in garage rock circles. The band was promised an opening slot on a Yardbirds bill at the Fillmore in San Francisco, but on their arrival found that the venue hadn't heard of them. Angry at management and fearing the military draft, the band decided to head up to Canada, but ran out of gas in Portland, Oregon. He was about to meet the love of his life.
Toody: Fred’s band at the time, The Weeds, were on their way from Las Vegas going up to Canada to avoid the draft notices they had all received. They ended up in Portland with not enough left for even gas money.
After asking around on the street if there was a club they could play, they were referred to The Folksingers, a small coffeehouse upstairs on the block behind the Crystal Ballroom. They auditioned for the owner, Whitey Davis, and instantly became the house band. I volunteered there, helping with cleaning, et cetera, to keep the health inspectors off Whitey’s back and to keep our favourite haunt open. This was October 1966, I was still 17 until the end of the year, and Fred was just 18. At the beginning of 1967 we all moved into the Crystal.
Cole and Toody soon fell in love and were married in 1967, though The Weeds' manager insisted they keep the marriage secret. They didn't even tell Fred's then-bandmates about their wedding - getting married wasn't quite the thing to do during the Summer of Love.
The Weeds changed their name to The Lollipop Shoppe. They played in a golden era of music, when being part of the counterculture was considered dangerously subversive. They played with The Doors, Neil Young, Janis Joplin (who told Cole “Damn I wish I could sing like you”), Buffalo Springfield, Love and other greats before dissolving in 1968. (Their psych rock / garage singles from this era are now collectors items.) Fred was living the dream.
Then in 1970, as the Vietnam War raged, he was conscripted into the Army while on tour. He and Toody took their two small children to the snowfields of Yukon in Canada to live off the land - in a tent - and dodge the draft. After a brief visit to the US, the Coles were denied access back into Canada. They returned to Portland where Fred built them a house out of scrap, recycled materials and found objects. Despite a burgeoning career, a primal love of rock music and a rare talent for it, he gave up being in a band to focus on raising a family. With three small children - Amanda, Weeden and Shane - the Coles opened a music store in Portland called Captain Whizeagle's, which served as a hangout for start-up bands or kids in need of music advice or generous credit.
After some years, Fred formed the Zeppelin-esque Zipper in 1975. They achieve some success - they played with The Ramones. Then in the late 70s, frustrated by a lack of reliable bass players, Fred urged Toody to learn the bass. Despite being a mother of three in her late 30s, and it being wildly unconventional, she learned the instrument and joined her husband in a touring punk band.
They formed The Rats in 1980, who lasted three albums. Then a cowpunk band the Western Front in 1985. By 1986, they had grown sick of what punk had become, and formed a country-ish band. Tiring of that, they decided to start something a little more powerful…
In 1987, Fred convinced Portland bartender Andrew Loomis to drum for their new band, Dead Moon. If you don’t know Dead Moon, it’s hard to explain what they mean. They have a hallowed place in rock’s history.
They are the most legendary of the legendary, the ultimate committed lifer rock band. The 2006 surprise-hit documentary Unknown Passage chronicles their story, with everything done on their own terms, DIY, only ever staying “one gig ahead of a day job”.
For nearly 20 years, Dead Moon aggressively toured the United States and Europe while writing, recording and releasing a new full-length album every one to three years. (In 2002, they played the very first night of the Meredith Supernatural Amphitheatre’s life after the festival moved a mile up the road. This photo is of Fred and Toody on that night).
Dead Moon used an empty bottle of Jack Daniel’s as a candleholder each night - and played for as long as the candle burned.
Fred and Toody started Tombstone Records ("Music too tough to die") in 1988. Tombstone would release most of Dead Moon's discography. Fred cut the masters on the vintage mono lathe that Toody gave him for his 39th birthday - the very same lathe that had been used to cut the original release of the Kingsmen's "Louie, Louie."
Fred has a tattoo of the Dead Moon logo on the right side of his face. Toody has a slightly different version on her right arm. They got the tattoos in 1988 as a gift for playing a tattoo-shop benefit. Cole is what’s known in rock ’n’ roll circles as a lifer: a living, breathing, chain-smoking, whiskey-drinking relic of an American art form’s past, present and future.
“Don’t waste your thoughts on failure, that’s a nowhere scene. Go for what you want the most, it’s the only way you’re free.” - Let It Rain, Pierced Arrows
Dead Moon broke up after a particularly gruelling European tour in 2006. The break-up would last 8 years.
In 2014 they began playing select reunion shows in Europe and the United States. Then, Fred needed emergency open-heart surgery for blocked arteries. The surgery was successful.
Andrew Loomis died on March 8, 2016, aged 54.
Despite Dead Moon being 20 years of their life, Fred and Toody vowed there would be no Dead Moon without Andrew.
These days, Dead Moon’s songs are covered by the likes of Pearl Jam, Cat Power and Black Lips. Keeping the flame burning.
This year, Fred and Toody celebrated their anniversary like they always do: they locked the door, unplugged the phone, uncorked a bottle of champagne and had dinner in bed while watching movies. Fred did the cooking on his George Foreman grill: steak, asparagus, potatoes and crab meat. To be sure, Toody is the only thing Fred has ever loved more than rock ’n’ roll.
Their cult is small, but it is fanatic. It includes people like Eddie Vedder and Dave Grohl. And as long as they’re out there - and as long as Toody is plugged in right beside him - Cole will keep playing. There is no end in sight, save one.
“Once I play the moon and I’m a hundred years old, then yeah,” he says, sucking a cigarette down to the filter, “I’m outta here.”
Fred and Toody ran the Portland marathon last year, smoking cigarettes at both the start and finish lines.
Now a duo, grandparents-of-four, legends, lifers and lovers, Fred and Toody Cole keep on rockin’, in their stripped-down but no less intense duo Fred & Toody, they perform unplugged versions of their earlier songs from bands, The Rats, Dead Moon and Pierced Arrows, as well as newer unrecorded material.
What a life. It’s our honour to welcome them back to Meredith.