On 13 September 2005, the BOC UK online community was shocked and saddened to learn that Andrew Aston had collapsed in work earlier that morning and had been rushed to hospital, where he died shortly afterwards.
Andrew (aka "Grinningboy, Andrew not Charles") was an omnipresent figure on the British BOC landscape - he'd be there at every gig and, upon your arrival, he'd make sure you were provided with a selection of badges, stickers, laminates, CDs... The last time I saw Andrew was at the Brain Surgeons' gig in London where he bedecked my lapels with a number of great badges, the majority of which were subsequently "bagsied" by Albert Bouchard as soon as he saw them!!
To be honest, I can't imagine attending a future BOC UK gig and Andrew not being there.
Actually, strike that - he'll be there...
This website was initially created to document the recollections of fans about their favourite BOC concert experiences, so it's not a massive stretch if I now ask you to send your favourite Andrew J Aston stories for display here.
Please your Andrew recollections and I'll add them below. Thanks.
I thought it best to start off with the initial post which first broke the awful news - it was from Karen, who perhaps knew him best...
Some very sad news, RIP Grinningboy
I've just heard that one of my best friends in the world, Andrew, known to many on J&A and at the old bdte as Grinningboy, collapsed at work this morning and died shortly after reaching hospital. His mother and brother and sister in law are at his home in Cornwall now in a terrible state of shock at their great loss. My heart goes out to them, he was the best of sons and brothers, none better.
Andrew was only 47 and one of the kindest, sweetest, gentlest souls on Earth with a wicked sense of humour and as sharply intelligent as anyone I have ever known. I loved him almost from the minute we met and even though things didn't work out for us romantically we reamined the best of friends. I'm going to miss him so much. I was speaking to him over the weekend and I just can't believe he's gone, he's going to leave such a massive gap in my heart and my life.
Andrew had been suffering from a serious heart condition for some years, something he struggled with both emotionally and physically, he hated his condition and the frustration that went with the effort of just day to day living sometimes but he confided his problems to very few people as the last thing he ever wanted was pity and would take refuge in black humour even at his lowest ebb.
I'll probably write more later but right now I haven't got the words to do his memory justice.
Andrew, I'm going to miss you so much. My only consolation is that you are finally at peace and in the arms of your beloved grandparents in heaven.
The first show I went to with Andrew was the BDS gig in Stourbridge on Halloween 2002. That was some experience. We took his brother, Scott, and sister in law, Emma, with us and as we pulled up in the deserted carpark of a rundown industrial estate and not able to see the club for a moment, we thought the gig was going to be taking place in B & Q. Andrew, quick off the mark as ever, quipped: "Don't just do it BDS it."
As we stood there, other cars pulled up and Tom, Rob, Ericoyster and Beej appeared among others. We all walked up the road to where we guessed the venue might be as there appeared to be a lot of people milling around outside. When we got closer we could see they were all in Halloween costume, although Andrew did try and convince me that, as the fashion police had yet to reach Stourbridge, this was the way the locals ALWAYS dressed.
The other remarkable thing about this prospective Bouchard Dunaway and Smith - who, let's face it, aren't exactly a 'boy band' - audience was that they were predominantly female and all very very young. I mean VERY young. They made even Scott and Emma look old and they were 20 years younger than the rest of us as it was. Yes Andrew, I do remember your comment about people thinking Emma was my daughter and one day I'll catch up with you in the afterlife and make you pay for it!
Andrew (he was on great form that night and only let up with his bitingly funny commentary a while later when towering adoringly over the tiny Joe Bouchard just after he arrived) surmised that the opening band would be Rod, Jane and Freddy with Bungle or Zippy performing the introduction and Jeffrey on cowbell.
As a mark of respect to the Rainbow team, BDS would do a cover of 'Up Above the Streets and Houses'. There would be a ball-pond inside instead of a dance floor and Ronald McDonald-alikes would be handing out Happy Meals and balloons. He had me in fits of laughter as he warmed to his theme and, by the time we went inside, he was singing '...paint the whole world with a Raaaaaaaaainbooooow!' That was Andrew.
PS: I think all of us would have preferred Rod, Jane and Freddy to the horror that was New-Vana, but I've covered that elsewhere so least said, soonest mended.
BDS weekend 2
We all feel guilty about things we did or said or didn't say or do when people die and wish we could turn back time. Do I have any of those regrets about Andrew? Yes of course. Most too personal to go into here but one thing I know I did that Andrew found hard to forgive (actually he never did, bloody hell that man could hold a grudge) was when we went to Crewe for the Sickcon gig.
Alice Cooper was probably Andrew's second favourite band ever and after getting to meet Dennis and Neal at the Stourbridge show he was euphoric but he wasn't satisfied. Oh no. He nursed a strong ambition to also meet Michael Bruce, who he knew would be performing in Crewe, and talked to me incessantly about how he was going to bring this about.
Now - and I know Ralph will probably faint at this and never let me darken the doors of Hotrails again - Alice Cooper had largely passed me by back in my misspent youth in the 70's. Yes, Ralph I know, mea culpa, but I've learned my lesson now - mostly through Andrew who, appalled at the huge gaps in my knowledge, took it upon himself to further my musical education and did it very well (although I'd rather have skipped the Stryper and Eddie and the Hot Rods parts of the curriculum). But back then I was still largely an ignoramus so how was I to know..?
It had been a long day in Crewe and a very thirsty one. We were all standing in a group on the balcony - Paul, Sue, Ralph, Simon, Dom, Andrew, me and Roy, who had arrived late. Roy said he was going to the bar and would anyone like a drink? I'd been drinking beer but I was pacing myself, there were still several hours to go and I wanted to enjoy them and not pass any part of the show in the ladies kneeling on the floor worshipping the toilet bowl but I was thirsty so I asked Roy to bring me a coke.
Now it was loud in there so it was an easy mistake on Roy's part but he misheard me. He duly returned with a tall glass of dark liquid which I grabbed and took a gulp from...it was rum and coke, a very strong rum and coke. I knew if I drank it I'd be under the concession table within minutes so - not wanting to appear ungrateful or hurt Roy's feelings - I murmured to Andrew that I was going to the bar to get some water and slipped away.
There were people 3 deep waiting at the bar but I'm a veteran of the optic wars - both in front of and behind bars - so I was confident I'd get served before those less determined. And I did, I flashed a triumphant smile at one guy I pre-empted who laughed ruefully. Having a captive barman and feeling a little guilty I offered to order for him too. Sure, he said. He was an American. He'd have a rum and coke. Karma? I still had my mostly full glass from Roy in my hand and quickly explained what had happened. He laughed again, took the glass from me and toasted me.
Another guy standing nearby spotted my camera and offered to take a picture of me and my new friend which I thought a bit odd but I didn't know!! I swear it but Andrew never forgave me. The rum and coke guy was Michael Bruce. I told Andrew about what had happened and showed him the pic on the display on my camera, a pic I lost when my old pc died on me recently. If looks could have killed... well you'd all be sharing your memories of me right now.
For a big man, Andrew could sure move fast when he liked and he took no prisoners as he barged through the crowd up to the bar. Anyone who is still nursing permanent injuries from the occasion can blame me. By the time he got there though Mr Bruce had gone and while Andrew did get a word with him and his autograph during the 'meet & greet' later it wasn't the same...sorry Andrew."
Other Show Memories
Looking back, I have such happy memories of going to shows with Andrew. I remember him telling me when we first met how happy he was that he got to see the band, as he thought then, for maybe the last times in 2002. Then of course he got to see them so many times again in the last few years, he called it a bonus.
Some of the most treasured moments of his life were meeting the band members in person, I'll never forget that night in Aberdeen when we went and had a drink in the bar with them after the show.
I looked at him sitting there next to his hero Buck, he looked like all his birthdays had come at once and he later told me that's exactly how it felt.
Then when he got to meet Joe (and Dennis and Neal and Michael Bruce - Alice Cooper was probably his second favourite band) after the BDS gigs here he had that same look of dazzled happiness.
He called me from Germany when he went with Davy and the others to see the shows there. He couldn't get the words out, he was falling over himself trying to tell me how much it meant to him that first Eric came out before the show and stood outside chatting with them as if he were one of them as they waited in the cold for the doors to open.
And then later, he told me, Buck just walked right up to him and hugged him like a dear friend, asked him how he was and remembered his name. He couldn't take that in. Buck Dharma remembered HIS name and hugged him! I told him of course Buck remembered him, why wouldn't he?
The only person who didn't realise how special Andrew was was Andrew himself. When he finally got to meet Albert with Deb after the Brains show in London this year and they were so nice, he'd achieved his every wish, he'd met ALL the original band members men he loved and admired from afar for more than 30 years. He was so happy about that, so proud.
Christ, just found out about Andrew. Absolute disbelief.
We travelled around together on the 2003 BOC UK tour, checking in at various Travel Inns (and a few less salubrious hostelries - though probably relatively plush compared to some of the dives the 'Cult had to endure during that gruelling marathon) sharing many stories and imbibing maybe too much ale.
Having met Andrew the year before on the previous 'Cult jaunt (and at the BDS gig in Crewe), when we reconvened in 2003 he exuded a somewhat understated flamboyance, bestowing myself and many other fans with a mouthwatering array of BOC bootlegs and those legendary mocked-up backstage passes.
On the first night of the tour we got down to Milton Keynes for the sound check, just in time for Andrew to present Buck with a Cultosaurus Erectus jigsaw puzzle.
The diminuitive Dharma was taken aback.
"It's not complete, though", smiled Andrew "I've taken out some of the pieces - you can have the rest next time you're over here!"
A surefire plan to guarantee a return to UK shores!
Aside from his undoubted love for the amazing Blue Oyster Cult, Andrew was also a sucker for the underrated Kiss-like US pop/rock combo Starz. Me too.
So whenever we weren't grooving to the 'Cult on our travels, you could be sure that Grinning Boy would be spinning Attention Shoppers or some other '70s gem from Richie Ranno & co, from his collection of car tapes with immaculately rendered homemade album covers.
I think that's what I'll miss the most about this giant of a man - his generosity, sincerity, dedication - and that most endearing quality - his immaculate attention to fine detail.
Just check out his CD sleeves for proof!
Last time we met (tBS, Feb 2005) he was as gentlemanly as ever, with his wry wit in sparkling form. You see, rock 'n' roll brought out the best in Andrew - he utterly adored it. And in turn his adorable enthusiasm was downright infectious.
We'll miss you, big fella, but know you'll be down the front with us, arms firmly folded, grin firmly plastered across those darling chubby chops 'til Buck Dharma hits that last sweet, stinging powerchord.
Gawd bless ya, Andrew!
Thought you might like this pic from The Stables 2002, probably the first time a lot of us met Andrew. Like he did every time I met him, he came laden that night with BOC goodies that he had made for everyone.
Whilst band members may come and go, the fans tend always to be there. Sadly, any future BOC shows in the UK will always be one brother short.
That's knocked the stuffing out of me. Apart from a great man, a friend, partner in BOC trading and an interesting and passionate poster he was part of a grand plan.
The Grand Plan for Andrews to take over the world !! , well the BOC world at least.
Although I never met Andrew in person, I felt a connection not only through the name and BOC but through those special people, the Gittens. We traded a few times and I thoroughly enjoyed his postings on the BOC BBs.
He was also one of the gracious people that signed my special Book a present from Paul and Sue.
I will be saying prayers for his family and friends, and I am positive there is a spot for him in the elevator that is going up.
Tom has just phoned me with this news. What a sad, sad day. I have many fond memories of Andrew, none more so than the time when he, Georg, Tom and Rob met myself, Ericoyster and Ericoyster jnr at Frankfurt airport on our way to see the BOC gigs in Mannheim and Karlsruhe, two years ago.
Andrew had stayed in the van we had hired because he was eh, "well on" He had managed to find a supermarket that was selling out of date alcopops at the equivilent of 10p per bottle!!! Needless to say he bought a crate full!!! We had a fantastic three days in Germany. Great laugh, with a great crowd to see a great band.
After the first gig, we were standing outside, in freezing cold temperatures and Eric walked straight up to Andrew and greeted him like his best friend (Andrew was wearing his Eric Bloom.net T shirt that night!!!) Andrew was gobsmacked. Eric was fantastic the both nights we attended the gigs.
On the second night he joined our small gathering at the front, while the support band Fireball Ministry were on. He proceded to come round us all and thank us for coming all the way from the UK for the gigs. None of us could believe that. The moment when Buck greeted Andrew after the Karlsruhe gig was priceless.
I have many fond memories of Andrew, but those three days in Germany, with a fantastic group of people, seeing our all time favourite band on foreign soil, will live with me forever.
He was a generous guy. Every time I met him he always had a BOC keyring/bottle opener or of course his famous BOC laminates for everyone in the party
This is so sad. My condolences to his family and friends and most of all to Karen. The BOC family has lost a top member
DFTR big man
Very sad indeed. I met Andrew on my trip to the UK in 2002. He was a great fan and very nice guy. His passing is a big loss to the whole Blue Oyster community.
My condolences to his family.
The last time I was in touch with Andrew was in April on my birthday. We bumped into each other a few days earlier at a Judas Priest show. He was going to send me some pictures (150 or so) that he had taken on the night, but, generosity personified as usual, also included a recording of the Brain Surgeons 100 Club appearance.This is what I wrote to him:
....you're one of the good guys, Andrew. If I were to indulge in such practices, you'd always be at the top of my Christmas Cards List...
I'm now raising my can of beer on high; he was the best and he'll always live in my memory. Cheers!
I first met Andrew at The Stables in Milton Keynes in June 2002 when he was the first to arrive wearing the "You're on your feet we're on our knees but we're still taller than you" UK Tour 2002 fans T shirts that I had imported these and posted out to 20 or so of the UK fans.
This caused me some confusion as there were I believe 3 Andrew's to whom I had posted shirts and I had not many any of them, however we soon sorted out which Andrew was which, and retired to the bar where we met many other UK fans also for the first time as well as Georg. The picture which Jack has posted above, was taken that night.
A month or so later and Andrew was here at Chateau Desdinova when we held the second UK BOCBQ. He and Karen, having travelled the furthest, arrived the day before and Jan and I spent a memorable Friday evening eating Chinese food and drinking Karen's lovely Rioja. The attached photo was taken the next day.
Next followed another 2 tours, with pleasurable memories, the laminates as others have mentioned, Andrew joining Doug, Anita and myself as the front row balcony party at The Brook in Southampton, 2 years running. Who could forget Swansea and the Penicillin hotel.
I last saw Andrew as others have said at the tBS gig in London in February. We had all met in a pub in Wardour Street, when suddenly somebody came up to me and slapped a tBS sticker onto the left shoulder of my jacket. It was Andrew, as generous as ever. It remains there on that jacket funnily enough, while two "Access All Bars" laminates hang beside my computer at work.
I'll always remember the "Andrew not Charles" signature line, I always thought it amusing.
As others have said Andrew was an extremely likeable, pleasant, generous bloke. The world is undoubtedly a sadder place for his loss. I have treasured memories of moments shared.
Phil Chisholm (DesdinovaUK)
23 September 2005: I didn't want to go - I don't like funerals... but I HAD to go.... I'm not what you'd call a religious person - in fact, I HATE ALL religions with equal zeal - in fact, I can get quite evangelical about my detestation, which is ironic, really... anyway - that's the context for my words... may your God forgive me....
We set out for Kidderminster at about 10am from Liverpool and got there about noon. Mapquest as usual was having a laugh with the instructions, and there seemed to be extra roundabouts and strange distances but we eventually - accidentally - found the pub where everyone was meeting - already present was Karen, Paul & Sue, Simon, Roy, Mark and Franco. Luckily, Paul knew where the church was so we all followed him and got there about one o'clock to find Rob, the Man in Black waiting outside.
The clouds were very leaden and rain was in the air as we walked up the path and waited outside for it all to start. Down by the gate, eight ushers began carrying in the flowers and bouquets and laying them on the grass, and one red one was in the shape of a - sort of - Kronos - well, they'd had a go, bless 'em... probably not a lot of demand for obscure alchemical symbols so it was probably a bit new to them... it's the thought that counts...
Then they brought up Andrew's coffin - which was a pretty sobering and surreal all at the same time - and we filed into church in its wake and stood in the back pews. By this stage I was feeling a bit uncomfortable - I didn't know what to do - church etiquette-wise - and I also felt a bit of a hypocrite going into a church!! Anyway, there was a fair amount of singing hymns and reading out of the New Testament and all that sort of thing, which meant absolutely nothing to me, of course, but all I can hope is that Andrew's mum, brother and sister-in-law down at the front got some sort of solace from it.
That was Part one, if you like. Part 2 was much better from my point of view - I've heard it called a "celebration" and that's as good a description as any...
First, Emma, Andrew's sister-in-law, read a moving eulogy, which actually turned into a paean of praise for the internet in places as she explained how it had allowed Andrew to create a network of friends from all over the world, most of whom he'd never met, yet all linked together by their love for his favourite group. She then closed on a humerous little poem seemingly written from AJA's p.o.v. asking God to bless his computer because it "contained" all his online friends...
Next "on" was Karen who strode purposely down to the front in her "Sisters of Kronos" silk tour jacket clasping a sheaf of email printouts and then proceeded to "fill in" the family and friends on the Andrew we all knew... the online Andrew... the touring Andrew... the all-round nice bloke... Karen read out a number of emails - Andrew Monaghan's tribute to Andrew from J&A, plus there was one from Jack Taylor who couldn't attend today which told of how his kids had put one of Andrew's key fobs onto the shed keyring and now everytime he went into the shed for a cold beer - or for cat litter!! - he'd think of Andrew. Finally, she closed with a really nice letter from Redcap to Andrew's mum which had given her a lot of comfort - nice one Mark!!
I think Karen did a great job - she tried to keep it light and I think everyone appreciated that. Afterwards, there was a bit more of the hymn singing business before it came to the bit where they played "Andrew's favourite song". The priest invoked everyone to sit down, which they did, but a "stay on your feet" from Karen meant that the travelling online contingent remained standing with heads bowed as the priest's tinny CD player cranked out DFTR. I saw a few people look round at us and wonder what was going on - why were all these dark figures dressed in black Kronos shirts remaining standing....?
I was just hoping it was the "single" version of Reaper as the sound was so crap but nope - it was the full solo version - at the end, I felt like shouting out: "it sounds better than that on a good system... honest!!!" But I didn't.. as I said earlier, I'm unsure of church etiquette, but I AM sure that that would have been a bit out of place.
The coffin was then wheeled out of the church and we all followed in single file down the path and out onto the road.... after a few minutes, they turned off into what looked like a field but it transpired this was where the final resting place was going to be. As we all approached the graveside, the rain began to come down and, I dunno, the gloomy weather seemed fitting for what was happening. Andrew's coffin was lowered down, the priest said a few words, the family threw in some earth and that was that. People began to disperse. Standing in the rain looking into a hole in the ground and staring at a polished wooden box containing what used to be a living breathing friend who you're not going to see or talk to ever again - I think that's maybe when it really hit me what had happened.
We went back to Andrew's mum's house afterwards for a while - Paul said, follow me, I know the way - he then put his foot down and screeched off into the distance. We ended up following Franco and Simon, who took us on an impromptu tour of rural Worcestershire, but we got there in the end. His mum lives in a lovely house with a brilliant garden, and we had a great buffet lunch. I could see Brenda, his mum, was keeping busy with the whole process of looking after everyone, but I couldn't help thinking of how she was going to feel once all these strange online fans from all over the country had disappeared back to where they came from and she was left alone with her thoughts and the prospect of having to try and come to terms with her loss... :-(
I had to laugh, though, when we were leaving as she ran upstairs and came back with a big box of BOC badges, and was forcing them on us - like Mrs Doyle with a cup of tea on "Father Ted" - she wouldn't take no for answer.... "Oh go on now - surely you'll have a badge? And a fridge magnet - take a fridge magnet... there - that's a nice badge - take that one too..."... With feelings of deja vu, I suddenly realised where Andrew got it from!! Clutching a bottle of Andrew's famous "Cully Stout Beer", we finally made our escape and set off for home with very mixed feelings of the day though, all in all, I'm very glad I went - it was nice to see all the onliners again yet the context made it not nice... as I say, it's mixed me up...
Though I haven't changed my mind about funerals - I still HATE them as a concept, but I got a glimpse today of what it could be like if only they got rid of the solemnity, the priest, the hymns and the rigmarole that attends such events... just a thought...
Anyway, I now have a nice BOC refrigerator magnet on my fridge door and everytime I open it, like Jack with his shed keys, I can remember AJA.