Good evening everybody, at the time of posting this video, it’s May 13th 2019, Buckethead’s 50th birthday.
Today we’re gonna take an in-depth look at the moments and memories where Buckethead’s life and music were shaped by the love and support of his parents.
Today we not only celebrate Buckethead’s birthday, we also celebrate the memory of Tom and Nancy Carroll.
Throughout his career Buckethead’s parents Tom and Nancy had always shown their support of their son’s chosen path. In the mid 1980’s when pre-Buckethead Brian Carroll began taking lessons from guitar great, Paul Gilbert. Tom and Nancy would drive Brian to Paul Gilbert’s house.
“I was lucky because he accepted me to take lessons from him and luckily my mom and dad drove me to him he was pretty far away”
“he wasn’t old enough to drive so his mom would drop him off”.
“My parents were super supportive” – Coming alive interview
By the early 1990’s Brian Carroll had transformed into guitar maestro Buckethead and began touring with his band The Deli Creeps. At this time he left his home in Claremont California and moved to San Francisco. The move prompted Buckethead to write the song ‘I Love my Parents’. Which he later described in a hand written note stating “This I wrote when I moved away to San Francisco. I never been away before. I was sad and missed them. It came out”.
After months of being apart, Buckethead and his family held a reunion on June 16th 1991. And with his family looking on, he put on a 15 minute guitar master class that included playing ‘I Love my Parents’ for the first time in-front of his family.
(I991-June 16, 1991 Backyard solo)
The song would later feature on numerous albums including his debut record Bucketheadland, All 3 giant robot albums and on the soundtrack to the 1995 Keanu Reeves movie ‘Johnny Mnemonic’.
Buckethead further paid tribute to his parents with his classic 1998 album ‘Colma’
When asked about the album In an interview for the Philadelphia City Paper, Buckethead using his hand puppet Herbie replied.
“It’s an emotional record. His mother was sick during that time and I wanted to make a record she would like”.
A go to album for all Buckethead fans, Colma also includes a song for his father called ‘Watching the Boats with my Dad’
(Watching the Boats with my Dad)
For almost 40 years Buckethead’s dad Tom Carroll was a coach and athletic director for Damien high school in La Verne, California. In March 2010 the school renamed their baseball stadium, the Tom Carroll stadium. During his speech in 2010 Tom thanked his wife Nancy saying “she’s a saint, she’s my best friend, I love her dearly”.
Tom can be seen in the Buckethead and Bootsy Collins video ‘Minds under Construction’. The video was filmed at Tom and Nancy’s home in Claremont. And in case you’re wondering, Tom is the one in the Leatherface mask, sporting his ever present Damien High School shirt.
(Minds Under Construction)
6 years ago today, on May 13th 2013, Buckethead released his untitled 13th Pike. The cover of the album showed a teenage Brian Carroll embracing his father. Marking the first time since 1989 that Buckethead had released an unmasked image of himself.
(Track 6) –
6 months later, on November 4th 2013, Buckethead’s mom, Nancy York Carroll passed away.
Whilst Buckethead released several Pike albums throughout the rest of 2013. Pike 43 released in mid-January was released with no name, no track titles and no album image and is particularly somber. Seemingly recorded around the time of his mom’s passing.
On June 25th 2014, 6 months after the passing of his mom, Buckethead released Pike number 65 ‘Hold me Forever-In Memory of my Mom Nancy York Carroll)
As I’ve mentoned in previous videos and as most Buckethead fans will agree, Hold me Forever is one of the greatest compositions Buckethead has ever done and one of the greatest guitar pieces ever recorded.
And its high praise isn’t because of the added sentiment of it being dedicated to his mother. It’s quite simply a guitar masterpiece..
NYC 4 Ever
(Hold me Forever)
Less than a year after his wife’s passing, Tom Carroll passed away at the age of 84 on September 3rd 2014.
Much like the release of Pike 43 after his Moms passing, in the following weeks Buckethead released a Pike with no name, no track titles and no album image. Pike number 78. Making Pikes 43 and 78 the only Pikes in the series to do this.
That following year, on Fathers Day June 21st 2015, almost a year to the day after the release of ‘Hold me Forever’. Buckethead released Pike number 150 ‘Heaven is your home, For my Father, Thomas Manley Carroll. A beautiful, somber tribute.
In late 2017, Buckethead spoke about the passing of his parents during the ‘Coming Alive’ podcast interview.
“my mom and father passed away, so that’s been really tough. So it’s like, I feel like when I play they’re in the music. Coz they used to like when I would play to them.
(Interviewer) So in a strange way you can feel their presence in the music?
“I feel like a communication to them. I feel like it’s a gate to them. It’s a very comforting thing. And it reminds of those times when I was with them and played for them and stuff. That’s definitely changed things a lot”.
On Christmas day 2018, Buckethead once again paid a fitting tribute to the memory of his parents with the free downloadable track ‘Missing my Parents’.
(Missing my Parents)
Incidentally the art work for the ‘Missing my Parents’ song uses the same background image as Pike number 73 ‘Final Bend of the Labyrinth’. A great album, Pike 73 was released 2 weeks before the passing of Tom Carroll during his ill health.
While so many artists out there would think its “uncool” or not ‘Rock n Roll” to release songs dedicated to their parents. Buckethead has and always will wear his heart on his sleeve.. or Bucket. It’s never been about being cool or hip, Buckethead is just being himself and expressing how he feels in the best way he knows how.
Throughout his career he’s always given praise and tribute to his parents. Thanking them on numerous albums, from his debut Bucketheadland to Chinese Democracy and more. He’s even played the song ‘I Love my Parents’ on his current 2019 tour.
With yesterday being Mothers Day and today being Buckethead’s 50th birthday, it’s surely a reflective and emotional time for Buckethead, but also a time of celebration.
Whilst Tom and Nancy Carroll may no longer be with us, their memory and influence will live on through Bucketheads music.
So from myself and all the Bucketbots out there, Tom and Nancy Carroll we thank you. And Buckethead, Happy 50th Birthday.