I don’t want to use the word surreal here. I think surreal is usually used by people who don’t know how to describe how they feel, or by people who just want to look smarter than they are. Or maybe not. Maybe they grasp the word better than I do and it’s what I’m really feeling. I don’t know. I’m still sorta stunned, a bit numb and I don’t think I want to accept that truth. Mainly, I’m trying to wrap my head around the fact my friend is gone. Gone. And I’m having a difficult time accommodating that concept.
I honestly cannot tell you when I met Harlyn Hannah Hill, the original Triple H. I know it was around 90-91 when I was at Weatherford College. But he was just there and we, like most people he met, became friends quickly. It’s been a bit of a surprise that so many people I’ve seen remember him from the D/FW music scene and his contributions, I guess I was fortunate enough to know him from before then, because I never correlated him in that light. But he was there, for sure. All the nights we spent at Mad Hatter’s, Engine Room, Trees, Rick’s Place in Denton, my old record store, the memories keep coming back.
Scene-wise he was the heart and soul of The Impala. I know. I tried to follow him as booker when he left to open Club Nowhere (in the space now occupied by The Chat Room) and I just didn’t have it. Harlyn did though. He nurtured young artists during his time at The Impala, made many friends, met everyone at the door with a gruff yet friendly greeting and was a friend to all.
So many stories keep recalling from the recesses of my mind. The time he barely made it to Dallas for the Toadies/Reverend Horton Heat New Year’s Eve show. From Denver. Driving. He pulled up literally 10 minutes before the Toadies went on. How he was so excited when I got my fax machine at my record store that he sent me my first fax, his face and hand on the screen like a mischievous little boy. How he then tended my store while I was down at Mad Hatter’s for the midnight Rubberneck sale. Saved me from certain injury at a Ministry show. More recently, an unapologetic Siouxsie and the Banshees fan, he gained a new nickname Siouxsie Backpiece, as we were joking he would get a giant backpiece tattoo of Siouxsie to forever solidify his admiration. And then there’s the countless mundane things we did over the years, the 90’s especially, that mean just as much.
I missed a call from Jenna, his wife on Friday, while I was working. I figured it being Valentine’s Day and the day after his 41st birthday maybe she was calling to see what Leah and I were doing that night. We had been hanging out quite a bit in the past nearly 2 years – Harlyn had reached out to me regarding a Weatherford trip to Hutch’s Sandwich Shop I had posted of Facebook reconnecting an unintentionally paused friendship – and had hoped to maybe see them that night. I thought nothing of it, I would call her back when I left my current stop and started scrolling through Facebook to find a couple of cryptic style posts regarding my friend. I immediately called and had my fear confirmed. Triple H had passed away that morning. I had difficulty telling Leah, because it still doesn’t seem true. We had just seen them 2 weeks earlier at the big Baboon show in Dallas. As we all left he gave me a hug, said “Love you buddy, be careful going home” and that’s the last time I would see him.
I’m trying my best to not make this about me, it’s about him, my old friend. Regardless, I will miss you greatly, and I thank you for standing in line for over an hour and our sandwich and pie lunch we all shared at Hutch’s. I enjoyed having you back, if even for just a couple of years, and I hate to say goodbye.
So I’ll just say so long.
So long Harlyn. I love you buddy, be careful up there.