Randy Gabbard has been in the rock and roll music scape for decades.
It’s in his blood, and now he’s turned all those experiences into an eclectic comic strip that explores the life of an aging, would-be rock star and his antic-driven sidekicks William, Bosco the dog and a gaggle of feisty ducks.
Gabbard’s strip Brother Rock debuts this week in Main Street Nashville East and will run weekly.
“I'm excited about the opportunity to run Brother Rock in Main Street Nashville East,” said Main Street Media publisher Dave Gould. “Brother Rock is based in Old Hickory, and we look forward to bringing this local comic strip to our readers.”
Now, please know, Gabbard said he is not Brother Rock, just the creator of the comic strip. But, perhaps they could be brothers from another mother? Or, band mates in passing in the rock-and-roll sphere?
The longtime Old Hickory Village resident toured the country as front man and founder of the Brother Rock Band and has rattled the stage with a myriad of musicians – The Who, the Rolling Stones, the Moody Blues and more. But let’s add opening for such acts as Cheap Trick and Molly Hatchet. It started in the 1980s out of music-hub Nashville where the Brother Rock Band engaged in the creative processes and rock-out live opportunities.
“But having a moving set of great musicians who would lend their talents to the band-project was not only possible, but worked out amazingly,” Gabbard said. “And that is where I came in – singer, songwriter, guitar player, front-guy, arranger, co-producer, head cheerleader, football coach, official in-house old dude – basically known as the guy behind Brother Rock.”
All the while, husband, father of two grown children and grandpa to two, Gabbard worked – and still does – as a full time musicians’ repair technician.
“The idea of the comic strip has been in the back of my mind for years,” said Gabbard. “I started formulating the characters around 2015-2016.”
In fact, after he conceived the characters, the strip’s voice came loud and strong, and he wrote much of the material in his truck while waiting for the doors to open at various studios where he would make his magic, fixing all things musically related.
He hooked up with the famous cartoonist Guy Gilchrist, associated with the mainstay comic Nancy and was hand selected to create Jim Henson’s Muppets comic strip. The list goes on, including Tom & Jerry, Tiny Toons and countless other iconic strips.
Gabbard said Gilchrist enjoyed his characters and comic conception and set his hand to illustrate. Gabbard said he had pages and pages of descriptions and stories. They have parted ways since, and now Gabbard is illustrating.
“Brother Rock is a would-be aging rock star,” he said. “The strip thus far is ongoing with an actual story. Your readers will soon be introduced to William’s mother, and even his grandmother, all the while with interaction with Nashville.”
Spoiler…there might even be a romantic twist between Brother Rock and William’s grandma. Brother Rock was too old for William’s mom.
Gabbard has lived in Old Hickory since 1996 and said he’s thrilled Main Street Nashville East has picked up his strip. While it has run on both coasts of the United States, in Canada and in two United Kingdom magazines, this will be the first time Nashville area residents can get their eyes on it.
Gabbard plays host to mic night at Adelaiea’s Mexican Grill in Old Hickory the second Saturday of every month. He opens with a few songs and will step up in many capacities for bands that want to jam for three songs each. It keeps his rocker chops well tuned.
“It’s just fun and easy going and very popular,” he said.
He even has a merchandise table with T-shirts, tote bags, mugs and such with Brother Rock showcased and for sale. He said the fact Brother Rock will debut this week in a local paper is the bomb and a great way to ring in the New Year.
“I adore the fact Main Street Nashville East is taking an interest,” he said. “I’m tickled to death.”