On May 17, 2018, the LA and surrounding Southern California underground extreme metal community lost an instrumental figure, who stayed behind the scenes for every gig but was just as important as any of the band members themselves. Robert Guitierrez, also known as “Big Rob” passed away unexpectedly from natural causes at the age of 49. Beloved and respected by so many bands in the underground scene in Southern California and beyond, Big Rob lived his dream as a professional roadie, driver and tour manager working with literally thousands of bands over the past 25 years.
Big Rob worked with past and present underground LA death metal bands like Demolition, Infamy, Engrave, Terrorizer, Sadistic Intent, and Letumn Ascensus, to touring bands like Master, Disgorge, Vital Remains, Body Count, Six Feet Under, Disgorge, Brujeria, Fear Factory, Ministry, Possessed and many more over the years.
Big Rob is survived by a big family based in the San Fernando Valley including his mom, grandmother sister, and many aunts uncles and cousins who loved him. Christina Saucedo, Rob’s Aunt took time to speak with the Weekly about her nephew.
She said that although she didn’t see him every day, thanks to texting and social media she was very close with him, especially in the last few years of his life. “He shared a lot about his life on the road with me, all the friends he met along his travels, his problems with his van, his feelings and more,” she said. “He shared a lot with me we kept in touch through Facebook, which was a good thing.”
Saucedo said that Big Rob was a genuinely good person, and always maintained a positive outlook on life. “He just had a big heart, and a positive attitude even when things were down for him he always told me things would get better, he just lived his life the way he chose to, he lived his dream,” she said.
Saucedo, who is a few years older than her nephew, is not a diehard metal fan, but always knew how important Big Rob was to the metal scene. “Rob mentioned a lot about the work and bands he toured with to me,” she said.
“In the end, I just want people to know that Rob was a sweet, honest giving man with a big heart. There is no way anyone could fill that void in me,” she said.
Anna Ortiz from Huntington Park knew Big Rob since 2009, and said they automatically became friends. “He was always kind and helpful to everyone he met,” she said. “Rob was very caring, empathetic. He was always there to listen and uplift your spirits. He would contact me at least two to three times a week to check up on me, invite me to go over and see him and would send me flyers of his next stops. He was an amazing person and friend.”
El Sereno resident, and underground extreme metal journalist Jimmy Cabbs knew Big Rob for over 20 years, and concurs that Big Rob is irreplaceable in the metal scene. Cabbs and Big Rob were friends who met through attending underground metal gigs in the LA area going back to the late 80s.
“Initially Rob was involed with a band called Demoltion, in the late ’80s early ’90s,” Cabbs said. “They were one of the pioneering death metal bands in LA and were really good. I met Rob through his work with them, then eventually he worked with all kinds of bands and people I knew in the LA underground.”
Paul “Tito” Gonzales was a member of the band Demolition, and knew Big Rob since 1980. He and Big Rob grew up together in the San Fernando Valley.
He said that Big Rob was always into metal. “His passion for Metal developed over the early years of The “Chuck Landis Country Club” in Reseda. We could go to all ages shows there, and hang out with bands like Carcass, Napalm Death, Godflesh, Morbid Angel, Death and others,” he said. “Rob’s roadie endeavors actually started in my garage, where I was a member of Demolition and we used to rehearse, that’s where it began.”
Gonzales insists that Big Rob was one of the kindest, most helpful persons in the scene, always willing to lend a helping hand. “He put everyone first, that was Rob,” he said. “He was in Kansas City touring with the band, Entety of East L.A. some years ago, and literally stayed behind because there were only enough funds for so many people to get back. He made the discision to sacrifice his own way back home, and stayed to work on some guy’s ranch to get back, because he wanted everyone to get hone to there families first.”
Cabbs stressed that despite Rob’s outward appearance, he was a respectable man and honest, caring soul. “Rob may have looked frightening, but he was the complete opposite as a person,” Cabbs said. “He was approachable, and had a great sense of humor, but he was also very shy. His friends and people in the metal scene were his family. He was also a very hard working, dedicated, and extremely professional, loyal guy, who worked very hard till the end.”
Ortiz said that Big Rob was loved by so many, who are still in mourning over his passing. “He will be missed by so many people. He didn’t have to be up on stage playing a guitar or drums to be a legend,” she said. “I honestly think the Los Angeles Metal community will never have another one like him. Rest In Peace Big Rob, an LA Legend.”
Alex Distefano is an established freelance writer and music blogger from the Los Angeles area. With over a dozen years under his belt as a published Journalist, he covers the worlds of heavy metal music, punk rock, current events, cannabis culture, comedy, radio, food, tattoos, the paranormal, and ‘conspiracy theories.’ He graduated from California State University Long Beach in 2012 with a Bachelor’s Degree in both Journalism and Ancient History. Aside from his professional writing endeavors, Distefano works as an Educator, and delivery/rideshare driver.