OC has produced its share of glamorous, global music celebs in the near-decade since "Come Out and Play." But for every Dexter or Gwen, there's a small nation of anonymous underlings doing the wicked, nasty grunt work for them. They're the people who make sure the machines are kept humming, yet who are given little acclaim, hidden from the public until something tragic happens and the bands that loved them start dedicating albums to their memories.
Chris Lagerborg was one of those people. He worked for what seemed like a zillion bands both local and larger as a drummer for the likes of the Cadillac Tramps, F Minus, TSOL, Down By Law and the Joykiller, as well as a much-in-demand drum tech, which led him to gigs working for No Doubt, 311, NOFX, Frank Black, Devo and too many others to count. On July 18, Chris had just gotten back from an exhaustive tour around Europe doing tech duty for Slayer. He went to sleep at his mom's home in Long Beach, and he never woke up. He passed away from natural causes. He was 33.
The Vandals may be the band Chris had the closest ties with. He did close to 10 tours with them, either as a tech or as a fill-in drummer when Josh Freese wasn't available. "Music was Chris' passion," Vandals singer Dave Quackenbush said. "He loved turning people on to new music. I literally have a stack of about 100 mix CDs he burned for me. He always made you laugh and always put a lot of effort into being your friend. If I was in an argument with somebody, Chris always had my back, no matter what."
Chris also wrote and inspired Vandals songs, Quackenbush says. "Hungry for You," a sort of love song, wasn't really "written" by Chris as much as it was made up off the top of his head one night while he and Quackenbush were riffing. And "Take It Back" was about Chris' penchant for finickiness with restaurant food.
"I still find myself walking toward the phone to call him," says Mitch Townsend of Nitro Records, veteran of many local bands, and one of Chris' closest friends. "My brain thinks he's just away on tour."
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Townsend remembers Chris as being a connector of people. He met his girlfriend through Chris, and every time Townsend would visit him in Long Beach, he'd marvel at all the people Chris seemed to know.
"I used to joke with him that he was the mayor Long Beach. It was like he knew everyone in town."
And maybe he did. At his funeral service, Townsend remembers seeing people there from what had to have been every band he ever worked for.
"It was nice for his mom and everyone else to be able to see the faces of all the people who cared about him. Chris really is one of those people who the world is going to be a lot more boring without."