R.I.P. EARL ROOT, 1962-2008

I am saddened to hear this.

I remember the first time I heard the Root Of All Evil. It was in March of either 1989 or 1990. Pat Harrington, Lee VanNyhuis and myself had traveled down to "the Cities" (with Lee's parents) for the Minnesota Boys Sate Basketball Tournament. On a late Saturday night we were laying in our hotel room-each of us with our Walkmans on. Being in the big city, and coming from the land of the horrendously bad WTBX, it was a requirement to scan the local radio stations. Mostly, because we were Bigfork High School's resident wiggers, it was hip hop that we wanted. So we'd tune in to "the Power Station", 89.9-KMOJ. Lucky for us (or at least me) just a few clicks away, at 90.3, we happened upon Earl Root and his band of misfits. These guys were jokingly talking shit on the metal that they were playing (a trend that I adopted while hosting a punk rock show-aptly titled 'Puke Rock'-many years later) and laughing at the drunkards that were calling in. I think we all landed on it at the same time but individually listened to it without letting the others know. Then, when we couldn't contain ourselves any longer, in unison, the three of us looked around at each other with facial expressions that were equal parts confusion, intrigue an disgust and someone spoke. The conversation probably went something like this:

"Dudes, are you hearing this shit?"
"Yeah. What the fuck is this?"
"What the hell are the callers saying?" (The callers would gargle same gibberish words over and over. I would later come to learn that this was affectionately referred to as a 'Gore Check.' I do not posses the literary skills required to explain it any more in-depth here, but if you ask me in person, I'll give you my best Gore Check and a proper definition of the term.)

I was aware of Speed Metal and crossover thrash, and of course I owned Metallica, D.R.I. and Megadeth cassettes. However that night was probably the first time I had ever heard Death Metal. I chose to hide the fact that I was fascinated by this show from my buddies and kept on listening while they probably tuned back to KMOJ. I've been listening to the Root Of All Evil ever since. Periodically, over the years, I'll throw in a blank cassette tape during the first hour and pass out on the couch. Later, around 4am or so, I'll wake up, flip tape over and hit record again. (That's when all the Black Metal gets played.) I still have all those cassettes. One of my favorites was one from the early 90's that was taped while Earl had the (long since defunct) local rap-rock band Mondo Trasho in the studio with him, taking phone calls from listeners. My brother and I damn near wore that tape out trading it back and forth. Some of my favorite parts of the Root were when Earl interacted with callers. And the man had unparalleled production skills, as evidenced by his on-air spots and promos. I have been disappointed in recent years that Earl has (understandably) been on the show less, but of course I've kept on listening...and will continue to do so. This week I'm going to dig out those cassettes and pay my respect to the man. Rest in peace Earl. "It's six, six, six big minutes past the big hour....."

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