Joe Longi, R.I.P.

A few weeks back, Angelo Ranzini walked into that wonderful nightclub, The Famous Bar. While enjoying a series of Bloody Mary’s with a friend, the conversation about great, old St. Louis bands came up, and maybe because Ranzini was in the bar, I determined that A Perfect Fit was the top St. Louis group that I’d love to see reunite for one show. Because I’ve been vaguely intimidated by Ranzini since I was about 17, for no particular, realistic reason, I passed on the opportunity to talk to him about my idea. After all, it was a quiet night at the Famous, he was in conversation with the bartenders and, hey, I’d probably come unglued just saying “hello.”

High-school-induced social anxiety disorder. My longest-running malady.

Anyway, I’ll go ahead and hang onto that notion of an A Perfect Fit reunion, though it’s now an impossibility, due to the death of drummer Joe Longi, who passed this weekend. In the modern way of things, I was first alerted to his death via text; it was then confirmed with some back-and-forth on Facebook instant messenger. It’s been years since I’ve seen Joe; gosh, could have been a decade since we really talked. But I remember him well, in my own, admittedly-dated fashion, as both the kit drummer of APF, and, later, as the percussionist of Funkabilly. Certainly, he did other things in life and his closer friends and family will remember a different, more current person; but I’ll be forever locked in on the younger Joe Longi, with his spiked hair, intense, on-stage facial expressions and sliced tee-shirts.

Back in high school and into college, I had a set of drums and played them with (essentially) one band, before letting go of the dream, at an early enough age to spare the embarrassment of getting cut after auditions, or dealing with the post-adolescent angst of band break-ups. And so musically illiterate! I never could figure out the worship of certain drummers. In the late-’80s, you couldn’t talk drumming or percussion without Fish, Larry Mullen Jr., Stewart Copeland, Bill Bruford, and Neil Peart coming up again-and-again.

My drum heroes lived on my block, like Jack Petracek of the Painkillers. Or they lived around the corner, like Peter Lang of Corporate Humour. Or they went to Webster U., like Richard Bach of the Stranded Lads. Or they played in the rock royalty of Webster Groves High School, like Jeff Herschel of the Urge, or Longi, with APF.

Joe had a special place within that sub-group thanks to his kit. He was the first drummer I can recall (though it might’ve been Peter Lang…?) to play an electronic set and he worked in eye-catching pieces like Roto Toms and Octobans. His kit just looked a bit more contemporary and cool than everyone else’s and that added to his appeal. When the Urge and APF would play VFW Halls and small, local clubs, I could’ve just watched the drummers, with Herschel’s left-handed set-up and Joe’s new wave kit always impressing; their taste in gear was just as sharp as their playing.

I can distinctly recall catching those two groups at my first “hall party,” at a VFW joint in some corner of St. Louis County. And, if faulty memory serves true, I seem to recall being very moved by the scene, this simple idea that kids from my high school were igniting other kids from my high school on a weekend night, with the vague notion that even more excitement was happening on the parking lot, or at post-show parties somewhere deep in Webster Park. Existing on, at best, the outer perimeter of any particular clique at WGHS, simply being at those hall parties was unbelievable, though, a much-needed release.

Local bands like the ones mentioned above changed my life; far, far, far more than the Beatles, or Zeppelin, or Pink Floyd, or R.E.M., or Fishbone, or any of the college radio bands that served as gateways to the world of rock’n’roll for so many teens of my era. The local bands were the ones that hooked me, for good.

Thanks, Joe Longi, for playing a role in all that.

Owe you one.

28 thoughts on “Joe Longi, R.I.P.

  1. Very nice. APF was slightly before my time, but I’ve heard people waxing nostalgic for them before.

    This piece really makes me wish I were just a few years older to have caught them live. A very nice eulogy here.

  2. APF/the Urge, my favorite lineup with my favorite two drummers. Joe was one of a kind.

  3. I remember my first APF show in Webster in the backyard of some guys we new in College (Bill Gowan and Bill Entriken). It was 1984. I remember the Hendrix-like guitar solos mixed with reggae and funk tinged guitar rhythms. A funky bass and drummer who rocked his kit with authority. You could say it was the police meets prince meets. At least that is how it sounded to me when i first heard it. This was the beginning of the scene that the Urge and Unconscious would soon make their own. I remember taking Dave Simon and Mike Aperon to the basement on Delmar two years later to hear them. It was their first time at Cicieros. I saw Joe out and an about a fews later, here and there. Always smiling. Big ass smile. He was good. Always good. It’s a shame. I wish i could hear you one more time

  4. great. i only ever saw one a perfect fit show. it was a new year’s eve in a basement in the cwe….

    — tony

  5. Tom – what a sweet write-up. APF (as a group and as individuals) meant more to the Urge than most folks could know. They were (are) friends, heroes, big-brothers. Joe will be missed; he was truly one-of-a-kind.

  6. yeah, he loved all that high tech stuff-even in grade school he had high tech hair–those guys all did-but seein’ him bang on that djembe with funkabilly was where it was at!

  7. From hearing the news that Johnny Consiglio was in a new band after the Oozkicks called A Perfect Fit and seeing their shows i first met Joey, Chris and Angelo. I saw a band with two amazing guitarists and a rhythm section that couldn’t be beat. Go, Dog. Go! couldn’t WAIT to share the stage with these guys… Joe sold me my first sampler and i used it with a little plastic sax. heheheh

    It was an honor and treat to have Joe and Angelo in Funkabilly and later The Blastoids.

    Certainly Joe’s rockin’ with the big dogs now with that mischievous smile beaming from behind the kit.

  8. Joe had a voice. There was a sound and a feel to his playing that was identifiable before you could see who was on stage. Many drummers I know (myself included) work a lifetime for a unique voice. His was naturally Joe. How he set his kit, the very high quality of the kit he played, and the obnoxious china and kang cymbals that gave Ranzini, Consiglio and my brother fits (the louder the better).
    Music and drumming made him happy. He was never happier than when he was on stage… I will never forget him screaming at me to hit harder with the slightly evil glint in his eye and that smirk on his face… That is the Joseph P. Longi that I will think of when I play. He will often be with me at my gigs…

  9. The first time I heard Joe play, I knew I was hearing something special. Loud… but special. Creative, is not a word I would have associated with drummers until I heard him move his kit for the first time at his parents house in Webster in the early ’90s. Joe became a personal benchmark by which for me, all other drummers would be measured. The spiked hair gave way to the Kabuki pony tail and he was busy rockin’ a three piece Noble and Cooley and a brass snare that could rip the nads off a Grizzly at a hundred yards. As a matter of fact one of the few things that could be heard over that snare or the china boy was one his frequent outbursts of laughter. He lived big and laughed even bigger. When we linked up through an ad in Spotlight magazine I never expected that a great and lasting friendship would follow. But I for one, am ever grateful for that which was unexpected. I love you Joe and I will miss you… rock on cat.

  10. Thank you Thomas. Me and Joe were nursery school classmates. I have a picture to prove it. We went our separate ways to kindergarten and then reconnected for soccer. On Saturdays my mom would make hotdogs while my dad announced our backyard iceless hockey games, “Longi shoots, he scores!” We drifted apart again but not for long. He materialized at an Oozkick rehearsal and spurred the ‘kicks’ (excited to all of a sudden have an audience) into doing a rousing rendition of our show stopper “Unknown.” Twenty minutes later, Scotty Medearis’s hand bloodied, we all collapsed in laughter. We adjourned to Joe’s attic to check out his new (to him) drum kit that Charlie Dent had just helped him purchase. He played and sounded pretty good. Fast forward two years. I bump into Joe in Old Orchard. We walk to his parent’s house on East Cedar to again, check out his new (brand new this time) kit. We walk through the basement door and are greeted by a gleaming, black Tama double-bass kit. He sits down and proceeds to play amazingly well. I immediately call Angelo Ranzini (another life long friend of Joe’s) and we soon move our amps to the Longi’s basement.

    We knew Chris Sauer was our bass man from the word go and soon him and Joe were bonding both as friends and as a very unique rhythm section – fretless bass guitar along with Joe’s double-kick, double-china cymbal attack. (The double chinas may have come from Terry Bozzio but Joe’s decision to go electronic came from Bill Bruford. Of course Joe always had to have acoustic snare and cymbals). His playing could be breathtaking – a lightening fast flurry of double-kick then up to the chinas and back down to rim shot snare – “crackety-crack!” Not too many people know this but he contributed a lot of lyrics to A Perfect Fit. Whenever I would get stuck I would call him and we would hash it out together.

    More importantly perhaps, Joe was a great friend. He was a great listener who really cared about what was going on in your life. He will be missed more than I can say. I love you Joe, Johnny C.

  11. Word seems to be spreading fast as Joe was liked by all that met him. I knew Joe from hockey at a very early age. Then hanging out as kids, only Lockwood separated our blocks.

    And music, obviously he was made for music or visa-versa. How many people could wear a spike and a smile and be so likable. He played at our house on numerous occasions and even though my Dad would get upset that the music was too loud, he would always be happy to see and talk to Joe.

    Speaking of Dad’s and families, Mr. Longi was always there, supporting Joe and all of us. Joe’s personality is a tribute to his family.

    As most people, we move apart/away or on in life. Since the day I met Joe, I never saw him in a bad mood. . . only that perpetual smile and sense that no time had passed.

    I don’t read blogs, do face book or anything like that, let alone write something. After hearing the news and reading the comments, I am compelled to join in and share that he will be missed. Not just the music, but someone you could consider a friend for life, in or out of music, an incredible kid, man and human being. BG

  12. The last time I saw Joe, maybe a year ago, though I’d talked to him a few times since, was at Angelo’e house. Before Joe arrived, Me, Angelo, Mark, and Fojammi had decided to do some BBQ at the last minute inspired by my pissing and moaning about how I was starving for some St. Louis BBQ. We ran out, rustled up the grub, grabbed some beer. Cooked our asses off amd just as it was ready, Joe arrived. Perfect timing. To me it was so “Joe”. After we gorged ourselves, down in the basement we went for a short, sweet, hard,kick ass jam. I remember Ange puttig his arm around me saying, “you have to appreciate moments like this”. Too true. Joe called me a few times after that to check up on my daughter Sarah who’d been in a terrible accedent and to see how I was coping too, that was also “so Joe”. I love you Joe and I appreciate every short moment. Whereever you are I’m sure you’re
    “breakin da shit”. Tom, here is the cure for High-school-induced social anxiety disorder. Next time you see Ange, just walk over and give him a hug, tell him Tracy sent you.

    love to all (you know who you are)

  13. Dam it's raining again…2:30 AM, can't sleep…missing my friend Joe & can't believe this…"you can't do this buddy,there's no checking outta here early, we didn't finish what we started!" I googled you to see what they said,…see if they got it right. Talked to Elizabeth,Joe's Mom a few hours ago,& she said, you're the 'Music Man from Vegas' Joey kept talking about,…yes Mam, "He really liked you, thrilled you asked him to teach for you down at American Music Studios in Washington… & he really loved the kids",… the Honor was all mine. // I didn't know the younger Joe,(cause I left STL for LA & Vegas,100 groups later & a lifetime in the entertainment world, when I had a brief chance to try to make something of myself…guess I'm the one that left & followed through on the 'what if I?'… & flying for TWA gave me that chance, the lucky one, the blessed & thankful,…just as Joe was to even play the game, (Did they know we'd of done it for free??) / A lot of you might like to know the recent Joe,the one from a week ago…we drift away from our true friends sometimes, then someone like me gets the rare opportunity to share some brief time with a unique spirit…"you made me a better person Joe Longi" & the type of man he had become was something we can all strive for. The recent Joe I knew for the past year since returning home, was one of the warmest most caring individuals I've ever met in this crazy life's journey. I needed a kick ass drummer with some wrinkles & wisdom in those sticks, someone to teach the kids what we paid our dues for… before it's forgotten & gone with the crap they're selling for talent these days(spoon feed us enough junk & we'll start to eventually like it…'we knew better', had a pact)… give em respect for the greats, yet the freedom to make our own paths like we did in the 60's 70's & 80's…I lost 2 unique souls now in the past few months,…maybe my Dad upstairs needed somebody for Freddie Haeffner to jam with…(my 1st guitar instructor & National Guitar Champion, & the guy Joe & I were trying to keep his dream alive at American Music by giving music to the kids) we were like brothers re united from war. We had a plan, & I'm gonna see it through for you Joe…I'll sell the 50's set of Ludwigs, the (priceless)1941-Top Hat & Cane drums we found, (& almost wet on ourselves at the possibilites of what their sale could mean to keep the music alive)… I'll be opening a new slant, 'contemporary music store & venue',just like we planned, the drum section will be in honor of you (you were the stick man, the ultimate percussionist),..just like the unique way you attacked your music, the style, the electric kits, that had your personal signature…we needed that here in STL. You made a difference buddy…your warm friendly smile was the way you attacked life, just like your drums….we gotta do something big for you now,…a jam session..I gotta few songs I wanna sing just for you. Putting together a video of us jammin & you teaching down at the studio that you'll like. We didn't get to do that 3 piece, or record that CD in my studio…but we'll do that in your new studio with Freddie & our Dad…I ain't far behind. I'll open that bar & music venue that'll rock this place for our buddies to meet & share the vibe…I'm putting a tribute to you on my web sight[] & some cool pics & jpegs that'll make you smile….man I'm gonna miss that. Sorry this was so long,…but what's a few minutes for a lifetime? You were the real deal Joe,…you were loved. Those kids & I & all your friends & family are really gonna miss you buddy…I'm walking around outside & realize it ain't raining …it's the tears rolling down my face…Hope to see you soon. Jack Zdvorak

  14. I won’t claim to be a close friend of Joe, but plenty close to sit across a table, enjoying a beer and talking about the APF show that Aviation Club played decades back at the Soulard Preservation Hall. We didn’t see each other often enough to get past that one show. Its nice to know it was as special to him as it was to me. I always liked talking to Joe, there would be a good laugh in there somewhere before it was all done. I’ve got a cymbal that used to belong to him… its a little more special today. Sorry to hear he is gone. dh

  15. I met Joe only once and I was impressed by his personality and energy that he was sharing around. I heard a lot about Joe and his music from my friend John Consiglio … and of course I listened A Perfect Fit CDs and I saw APF members play around St. Louis…I hope that sound comes back to this town. Joe you will be missed. Rest in peace.
    Zlatko Cosic

  16. How many of you great people (friends of Joe are always great people)know who taught Joe how to play the drums? Charlie Dent, who went on to become a well-known drummer and song-writer in Christian music never lost touch with Joe. Remember the big white house at Selma & Big Bend where the group Pegasus used to jam?
    Good old times, gone but not forgotten.

  17. All I have to say is that Joe was one of a kind. He was a true friend. I am very sadden. He tought me much more than anyone will ever know. We spent many hours together at work and we worked together for many years. I love you and will miss you very very much. You will always be in thoughts. LOVE YA!! Rock on hard to the oblivion!!!

  18. Hello, my name is David Byington. Joe and I went to high school together. Life was busy, even then, for us both. Every morning Joe, myself and Nick Stratos ate cookies and milk for breakfast, and had lunch at the same table all four years of high school. Joe was a person who accepted you for who you are. He had an ability to see through the bs and know the person in front of him. Sadly i never once had the opportunity to watch him in action with any band. I do have the first cassette tape of APF that joe gave me years ago and was impressed. My daughter Abby is 12 years old and plays drums. She is scary good. I have to give Joe credit for opening my eyes to the joy of drumming in your parents house. My daughter is reaping the rewards. I wish he could have saw her in action. I spoke to him a week before he passed away, he was going to come over and we were going to bbq and relax into the good ole days. His sister called me and told me what happened the day after. He will be missed by many people but not forgotten. Think happy thoughts for his mother and two sisters. my email if anyone has questions to ponder about Joe.

  19. My name James Denman but they call me "BIG JIM" Joe and I became frindes about 20+ years ago.It all started out in the Landscaping Deptment,we both did degin & sales but joe hated the sales end of it.WE took trips for work together and we be came very good friends.He talked about playing drums and I talked about playing guitar he said let's get together some day and will play, I said OK! After all we both loved music.Many years passed and I got him a job teaching drums lessons at american music down in Washighton Missouir,and the kids just loved him.To me joe had thing about him that ever one loved his smile, his spiked hair cut and the way he spoked with everyone. Joe was cutting a CD with me and a couple of other friends. HE came over to house one week before he left to go on his trip to KS.he said I'll see you when I get back I said great see you then. On May 26th I got a phone call from his mother telling whan had happened,My heart hit the floor we talked a wail and then said good by.I know in heart that joe is with GOD! and his Father looking down on us smilingand saying things are going to be alright.WE all know in our hearts that GOD!will heal all Pain. Pain takes to heal but it will. Joe I love you very much and I will miss you forever.I know that some day I will see again.WE all hated to see you go out so young.You keep playing hard we all love you bro.PS.this CD will be put in menory of Joseph Longi.Thank you for being my friend.

  20. I am so sad. I just heard the news and my heart is heavy. My thoughts and prayers are with you, your family and your family of your friends.
    We met eons ago and once in awhile he would still stop by and see me, always with a story, a smile, and hug. Thank you, Joe, for the music, the laughs and especially the hugs.

  21. I've found it (first) suprising, (then) interesting and touching that so many people chose to comment about Joe in this space. Thanks for doing so, it's humbling, in a sense.

    As I'm sure most know, there's a Facebook group dedicated to Joe's memory and from it, I found a bit of info on Joe's STL memorial service. For those not on Facebook, or not seeing that info, here 'tis:

    The Memorial Celebration of Joseph Paul Longi

    Saturday, June 13th at 11:00 AM
    Holy Redeemer Catholic Church
    17 Joy Avenue, Webster Groves, Missouri

  22. Nice to see Joe and his family remained true to the vivid memory I had of a grade school friend and his fantastic parents. To see that Joe remained friends with so many, for so long, is a great testament to the kind of guy most folks are so lucky to have around. Rest In Peace, Joe…Rest in Peace…Chris Nawrocki

  23. hey everyone. i just heard the news today. im in shock over the whole thing. i've known joe since i was in second grade. when i got the news i tried calling his house, and i,ll be damned if his voice didn,t speak to me. i hope the family leaves it there if just for a little while. oe will will be greatly missed and keep working your 50 step program and i,ll stick to my 12!!! i love you keep rockin joe' teresa workman e

  24. Joe was one of the first friends I made freshman year at DB. We had great chemistry and flirted shamelessly. After high school, he dated my sister briefly – the last time I saw him was the night they crashed at my place after we had watched him play in the Loop and done a late night run to Naugles. Although I didn't know Joe the man, I mourn the loss of Joe the teenager and twenty-something – the good friend with a great heart and a smile that always reached his beautiful eyes. Hearing about his death this past Saturday tore me up. Even though I haven't stayed in touch, I just always assume people who were friends in the past are alive and well. To know that one of them is not is crushing – especially someone like Joe. RIP, Joe. Love, Jeanne

  25. i met him when he was 11 years old on the steps of the Monday Club. i helped him buy his first Kit. It was a clear and blue Ludwig i think. He was my first drum student and i was his first teacher. It's funny how I remember what a kick he got when I taught him the beat to "The Wanton Song". Joe always gave me more credit than i ever deserved for teaching him. He was a great drummer because he worked harder than any drummer i know. i knew the best thing i could ever teach Joe was how to teach himself. i knew he was going to be totally unique when he refused to use a Ride! He never let himself be boxed in and as we all know he was the master of never being defined. Always new always fresh and always LOUD. Joe knew how to drive the bus! He claimed he had a perfect nose until he dove into our pool. Head first – shallow end, cause he was so excited – Joe style. i think it made him look more like a Roman General. He was more than a friend, he was a brother. One of the greatest gifts the good Lord has given me was to be able to talk to Joe 17 hours before his heart attack.I was asking him about gardening and he was expounding the benefits of compost. He said "ya know what compost is don't ya". i knew he had some great Joe wisdom and by saying anyting but no i was going to delay a Joe gem! He said "We are the compost. All of our ancestors turn to dust to feed the plants and we will too". Joe knew that everyone who ever has walked the earth will turn into landscape.
    In a way he drew and molded beauty using those who have gone before us and topped it off with a RIMSHOT, a CRASH and a SMILE! Words can't describe my sorrow, how much I miss him and how much i loved him. I know you all feel the same. i want to thank so many people for comming to Joe's Memorial Mass. I told his family
    "did you ever think Joe would get so many people to come to Church".

    Praise Him on high sounding cymbals: Praise him on cymbals of joy!

    Psalm 150
    Douay Rheims Version

    Peace… Charlie

  26. To a true freind!
    I met Joe in high school. He was always the hippest, most inovative, drummer in the school.
    We came from different backgrounds (i.e. his more progressive, mine more old school )
    However, we had two common bonds! PASSION and true LOVE for the music we make.
    His approach and ATTACK on the kit came from inside his soul, and spoke volumes.
    I cannot tell him how much I stole from him now, but I would encourage anyone who can listen…
    ….check him out!
    They should make a law!

  27. I’m so jazzed to see the old and new comments from Joe’s bandmates, friends and fans. Thank you TC.

  28. R.I.P. My mom told me stories about Angelo Ranzini and the Oozkicks, i still keep in touch with my uncle and am just trying to stay up to date.

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