Last night a very dear old friend of mine died in a traffic accident. Hilmer Hassig. To you English-speakers the name probably means nothing, but to all Danes with a love of music, the name is also a sound. The sound of a guitar, so completely its own. Before I met Hilmer, guitar solos to me were just the sound of musical bragging, only slightly less annoying than drum solos. But Hilmer’s solos were different. He didn’t show off. He showed us a little bit of his soul – the soul he otherwise liked to pretend he didn’t have. His guitar playing was melodious, but never honeyed, deeply original, but always respectful of the song and always, always innovative.
We met almost 30 years ago through a mutual friend. We came from totally different worlds, but had music as a common denominator. Over the next decade we “made music together”. I.e. he made the music and I/we (the record company) did all the easy bits – like trying to stretch the hardly existing funds, getting an acceptable album cover together, trying to plead with him about his infamous 8 hour snare drum sound checks etc. etc. On a night which should have been triumphant, Loveshop (Hilmer & Jens) were angry with me (it was always money) and I didn’t get to share their moment, when they got a Danish Grammy Award for that year’s best pop album. But a few weeks later they did something that has only happened to me that one time in all my years in the music bizz. They came and apologised. And gave me their Grammy. It has had pride of place wherever I’ve lived and still has. Not because it’s a Grammy, but because of the unique circumstances under which it was given to me.
Hilmer taught me lots and humbly I believe I taught him a bit too. Just not about the same things…
Not very long ago we became Facebook friends and Hilmer sweetly asked me if I’d share a cup of coffee one day – it had been more than a year, maybe two since we last met. He hadn’t heard that I don’t live in the country any more. I’m sorry that we never got to share that cup of coffee.
It’s unbearable that he’s not here any longer. But as a friend wrote on Facebook, the all stars band up there in Heaven just keeps getting better and better.