Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of the Phish experience is the people we meet while on the ride. Amidst personal exaltation and sonic revelation, the friends we make are the most lasting treasures of the traveling circus we call home. So many of the people we hold dear at this point in life we have met through the interconnected circles of the Phish universe. As we have gotten older, however, many of us in the Phish community have dealt with unexpected losses of people with whom we have shared such powerful life experiences. There is nothing more heart-wrenching than a kindred soul plucked from the earth before his time, and on January 7, the community lost another dear friend who was taken from us far too soon. Robert Eckhart, known to many as Barefoot Bob, succumbed to cancer at the young age of 37.
Bob was a significant presence in the Phish world in several ways, specifically through his participation on Phish.net and Twitter. Sharing his passion for Phish, The Grateful Dead and other bands with fans far and wide, Bob actively reccomended his favorite shows and provided copies for anyone who needed them. He helped initiate the Phish Twibe Listening Party, a weekly online get-together for participants to listen to and discuss classic Phish shows. Above all else, however, Bob was an exceptional person. His love for people and enthusiasm for music were catalysts for the formation community and close friendships, and his influence moved far beyond those who were lucky enough to meet him in person.
When Bob was diagnosed with tongue cancer in May of last year, he went through painful surgeries to have part of his tongue and the lymph nodes in his neck removed. This was followed by many difficult radiation treatments, and when his doctors finally thought he was cancer free and all he had left was to rebuild his body and learn how to speak and eat again, tumors began to appear around his stomach. The only course of action was a brutal schedule of chemotherapy. For a time, it looked like an experimental trial conducted at the University of Chicago would provide Bob and his family with a bit more time together, and he even had hopes of attending some of December’s New Year’s shows at MSG. Sadly, though, Bob’s health quickly declined. Thankfully, he and his family were able to spend one last Christmas together. Bob leaves behind his wife, Danelle, and two sons, Joseph (7) and Noah (6).
The community to which Bob gave so much of himself is now giving back to his family. Both Phish and Phish fans have generously donated more than 50 prizes for a raffle and an auction to raise money for a memorial fund which will help pay for the education of Bob’s young boys. The prizes for the raffle include an autographed Fishman, show-used drumstick, a $100 Ticketmaster gift card and a wide variety of concert prints including a Boston 20th Anniversary Pollock. There are even more items available through the auction, including a set of two 2010 SPAC Pollocks and a set of three 2010 Atlantic City Duvals. To enter the raffle, just make $20 minimum donation to his memorial fund and then forward your email receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Watching our community rally around Danelle, Joseph, and Noah has been truly special, and you can contribute to this effort. Please consider entering the raffle, bidding in the auction or donating to the fund today. You’ll have a chance to pick up some incredible Phish memorabilia while helping out a family in need. We ask you to dig deep and give generously. That’s the way that Bob lived his life, and you can honor his memory by doing the same.
Complete rules for the raffle, as well as links to the auction and more on Bob’s life and courageous battle can be found here.
Jam of the Day:
From what I gather, this UIC show was one of Bob’s favorite in recent years.