Floyd Moore R.I.P.

Floyd Moore passed away Monday. His name won’t mean much unless you were around in the early 1970s or are from Port Arthur, but trust me when I say that if Austin gets to call itself weird, Floyd was one of the reasons.

We struck up a MySpace correspondence a few months ago, when he wrote ragging me for not having gotten band lineage correct on a Uranium Savages piece I wrote some years back. As Floyd told it, he was the leader of the Marsh Mongrels, who played an infamous battle of the bands in the 1970s at the Ritz, where he worked. The Marsh Mongrels were later mildly famous for having Clifford Antone as their bassist.

Floyd also confessed to having once grilled me on my connection to Port Arthur, where he was from. Now, I never lived in Port Arthur but I spent every summer there as kid because my grandparents lived there. All those years of being friends with Clifford Antone made me feel like I had actually lived there, so perhaps I did speak too familiarly about it. But Floyd was gentlemanly enough to apologize for doubting my admittedly tenuous connection. He also posted a lot of his hilarious, semi-historical, and oh-my-remember-when-we-looked-like-that pictures here.

Mostly, I enjoyed Floyd’s colorful and opinionated reminiscences. During an email exchange about bassist Keith Ferguson, who died in the 1990s, he wrote: “We were playing at the Lamplite Saloon one Sunday, and this guy with a long shag, scarves, Beatle boots, and a full-length fur coat walks in, sits down in front, introduces himself, and announced that he'd like to be our bass player. Those Sundays at the Lamplite were cool, we were called ‘Lowdown.’ Ed Guinn would bring his piano and play one set and then leave. Jimmie Vaughan would sit in and even play harp sometimes (really good, too). From the day Keith walked in, we were the best of friends. Years later, the rift between factions would break my heart. I feel that Keith's record collection and attitude were what made the white boy blues scene get going in Austin.”

And of his years here, before moving back to Port Arthur, he expressed bittersweet regret. “Otis Lewis used to say, ‘Floyd, jes play dem licks.’ I moved to Austin in 1969 and loved it dearly for many years. It’s just too damned crowded now. I don't like being in this ignorant backwater either, but it’s always been home to me, even though I lived in Austin longer than here.”

One of the last emails came through last night from Susan Antone, because Floyd's friends are throwing a fundraiser in his honor Feb. 17 at Antone’s.

“I understand that Floyd wanted a beach party rather than a funeral!” she passed along. “You gotta love it... Port Arthur at its best!”

Floyd would probably agree.

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More Floyd Moore
Live Shots
Floyd Moore Memorial
Antone's, Feb. 17

Doug Freeman, Feb. 22, 2008

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