Memories of a son who was born in Singapore, raised in Seattle, and who would have been at home anywhere. The melody lingers on.
I outlived my father this week. I passed the threshold of 70 years, eight months, that Einar Fred Anderson achieved. He’s been gone now for over three decades, but I still remember the man’s integrity, his quiet ways, his love, his respect for our differences — especially on Father’s Day. Today.
I wish my son would have had the opportunity to outlive me. Erik John Carlock Anderson departed this life much too young. He was only 32 years, five months, when he succumbed to liver cancer five years ago. My only child took his last breath a few seconds after midnight on June 20, having stayed alive through Father’s Day.
Erik is buried in a north Seattle cemetery. There’s a postscript on his grave that reads: “The song may be over, but the melody lingers on.” Two years to the day after his death, I was delivered a nearly identical message in a tattoo, one that graced the back of a woman I saw in a marketplace in Nice, France: “Every song ends. Is that any reason not to enjoy the music?”
Of course. While I still grieve and always will, I have nothing but gratitude for my son’s life. The melody lingers on. I still enjoy the music that plays in my mind.
Although it is common in Vietnam to celebrate a “death anniversary,” and I will ring the bell at the Buddhist temple later today, I doubt I would be living here now if Erik were alive. But my son had strong ties to East and Southeast Asia. He was born in Singapore in 1984 when I worked for a publishing house there. After I took him on a trip through Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong and Japan in 1996, he never looked at Asian women the same way again. Indeed, his high-school sweetheart, Kim, whom he eventually married and with whom he longed to start a family, is a Chinese-American woman.
Erik worked in information technology, but he was a man with many interests and several true passions. He was devoted to family and friends. He loved sports, especially baseball and football. He loved animals — it seems he always had two dogs and two cats in his house — and in his later years he enjoyed duck hunting, which took him into the outdoors with his golden retriever Brady (as in Tom).
And there was always music. Many in the Seattle scene knew Erik only by his nickname, “Beefer.” He learned to read and play music young. He was a capable saxophonist who loved a wide range of music, from swing-era Glenn Miller to hard-rock Led Zeppelin and neo-punk Green Day. He found his niche in electronic dance music (EDM), specifically hard trance. He began to deejay in his teens and later established his own company, Mad Cow Productions, to book and promote touring artists.
When I decided to write this blog, I reached out to many of the people closest to Erik for their memories. There was a common thread in their responses — Erik’s kindness, his openness, his perseverance, his vigorous spirit, his sometimes brutal honesty. Even his father didn’t escape that. It was refreshing.
What follows are (edited) reminiscences from his mother, high-school friends, music-industry colleagues, and two other buddies.
Linda Carlock, mother — Erik was always busy trying to figure out how everything worked. He loved to “help.” Just before his first birthday, he took the screwdriver that his grandfather put down, pried off the “childproof” outlet cover, inserted the screwdriver, and shorted out the entire circuit.
In first grade, Erik was the only kid at his school who would be friends with one boy who had severe allergies but wouldn’t blow his nose. Most of the kids called him “Snot Face” but Erik called him by his name and invited him to play; that acceptance turned that kid from a pariah to being totally accepted by the kids. Erik’s life was filled with small instances of kindness that most people never knew about, but made a difference to those on the receiving end.
My friend once said, “Erik is a very old soul with a very tender heart.” How right she was.
John Meyers, high school friend — Erik was a force of nature. I first met him in ninth-grade math class. He trudged in with a Big Gulp from 7 Eleven at 8 in the morning and challenged our math teacher on something totally forgettable. I couldn’t keep from laughing during their argument, and our friendship was sealed.
A month or so before Erik died, he joined the guys and I on a camping trip to Shaw Island in the San Juans. He was in incredible pain but did not complain once. He was laying in his tent to rest. I pulled up the Mariners baseball game on my phone and laid in the tent next to Erik listening to the broadcast. He was never much to show emotion, but I could tell he appreciated me being there. We just laid and listened.
Erik was loud, boisterous, brash and incredibly smart. He was also caring. I have two categories of people — those you can call at 2 a.m. to bail you out of jail, and those you can’t. Erik certainly fell into the former category. I think about him often and miss him incredibly.
Neal Benyak, high school friend — We have a group text thread amongst high school buddies, and this chat is really what connects us day to day. It’s been going for more than 10 years now and Erik was a fixture in there. More than anything, outside of actually seeing Erik, is his presence in the group. We naturally argue and opine about immaterial things and get way too heated. But it’s not as dynamic without him. I actually miss Erik’s incredulousness when you didn’t agree with him!
He was a good friend. A loyal friend. And he will always be a missed friend.
Chris (Channel) Herrera, DJ, friend — He was almost too good to be true, a strange angel all too happy to wear some devil horns. Earthy but grounded, sweet but brutal. He scared me, overwhelmed me. I wasn’t even sure I liked him at first. Then I fell in love with the man. After that, I grinned when others weren’t sure they liked him either. He didn’t pull punches. He was not afraid to rattle your cage and leave you unsure that you wanted to hang out again. But ultimately, beyond his bombastic approach, you always knew where you stood. And sometimes, respect meant insult. If you weren’t worth fucking with, you weren’t worth loving.
Not a day passes when I don’t act like Beefer. Bad jokes, poorly placed commentary, intentional alienation of people found unworthy … and at the same time, joy in music, pride in performance, entrepreneurship and a sense of irony about all of it.
Beefer was my best friend. Beefer is my best friend. He had my back then, and he watches over me now. As time goes on, all I feel is joy and gratitude. I celebrate what is when I think of him, not just what was. “Don’t cry that it’s over,” wrote Dr. Seuss. “Smile because it happened.”
Eric (Web) Weber, DJ, friend — Whenever June comes around it brings back the great memories I had with my best friend, Beefer. I think back to the shows we did like “A Midsummer’s Night Rave.” Beefer gave me some of my first electronic shows in Seattle and helped me get my foot in the door. We did many shows together and opened for some major acts.
He brought out the best in people and was a large part of how the Seattle music scene is shaped today. His shows and personality influenced many local DJs and international talent. I miss doing shows with him. I miss drinking with him on the party boats, wing nights, and just hanging out! I really just miss him!
Jason (Monkey) Robertson, DJ, friend — Erik was the kind of asshole that everybody needed in their life. He was my best friend and we shared many great times together. I taught him how to play records and he taught me how to tell people like it is. He was the guy at a party that would call people out on crappy stories and made-up things.
Once, when he was unable to drive for several months, he generously gave me his car to drive and take care of, as mine was broken beyond repair. This allowed me to continue to go to work and throw the events that Beefer and I loved so much.
Jason Rosenberger, friend — Erik was always joyful, caring, inclusive and full of talent. When I first met Erik, he was playing music. Instantly I was blown away by his knowledge of multiple genres, styles and instruments.
As our friendship blossomed, I was able to capture his true passion, which was his friends and family. He had a way of speaking to who you are, and to capture your attention through humor and kindness. When Erik passed, he left a big gap in all our hearts, and we will always remember his intoxicating laugh.
Hans Sundy, friend — Knowing Erik was a blessing. To this day, I reflect on all we talked about, and his general approach to life — to make the best of it and try to find the humor in all circumstances. Even in dark times, he tried to find the light and stay positive. Yet he’d get real with you and let you know when he was serious if it was needed.
I truly miss him and wish he was there to randomly send texts or to call. Despite life happening, and us both working and living, he was always there to talk to and shoot life with. To this day, I don’t feel like he’s left us, but is still there, always in my heart. I was an only child. He’s the brother I wish I had growing up.
3 thoughts on “36. A Father’s Day Tribute”
Thank you, John, for sharing a heartfelt story of your son.
What a terrific tribute to Erik. Although I never had the chance to meet him, it’s easy to see he impacted many, many lives. RIP, Beefer.
What a wonderful tribute to your son! I can’t begin to imagine the depth of the loss but I can see he was truly loved by so many. May his melody play on in the hearts of those who had the pleasure to know him.