Tom Donohue, a longtime Bloomington music scene supporter, passed away in Indy yesterday (November 12, 2003) from cancer at age 52. Most recently he owned and ran the record store TD’s CD’s and LP’s, just off Kirkwood.

Tom trained Eric and me at the cable radio station WQAX when it was up in the Union, either late ’78 or ’79. Eric and I were 13, so probably ’79. Between his patience and willingness to share his encyclopedic knowledge of music – enhanced by the fact that he ran, with Dr. Ugly, the best record store in the history of Indiana at Duroc – he provided, for both of us I believe, a role model for engagement with music in general and music communities.

Eric, of course, chose to take some of Tom’s low-key style and apply it later to his role as GM of QAX, and although I’ve never discussed it with him directly, I suspect that along with his father, Tom’s understated humor provided Eric with an adult role model.

I will never forget visiting Bloomington sometime in the early nineties, after Tom had returned from Austin – his absence from town coincided with the peak of my involvement in the local music and arts scene – and running into him on the street. I was overjoyed to see him, for the first time in over ten years. He knew who I was right off the bat. I promised to buy him a beer at Second Story that night, but later, at the bar, I was so busy catching up with with various other folks I hadn’t seen for years that the beer slipped my mind.

A few years later, I was in town again and someone told me Tom had a store again, which excited me. I went and threw fistfuls of cash at him as I stocked up on more or less every local record from the prior five years or so. As we were closing the order (Tom suggesting additional records, naturally) he paused for a moment, looked me in the eye, and said: “You never did buy me that beer.”

And I never did. But even if I had, I’d still owe him a beer, as, I’m sure, many other will concur that they do as well. So Tom, tonight, before I eat dinner, I will drink a toast to your memory and thank you for your contribution to my life and to the life of one of my communities, to the musicians and music lovers of my home town. Godspeed, Tom, and may you be on the guest list.

Anybody know if there’s particular brand Mr. D favored?

6 thoughts on “A Remembrance

  1. Sad to hear about this. When I was living in bloominton 1st time around T.D. did not live there, but his name was one of those mentioned by the “older crowd,” legendary people you hear about but never meet kinda deals. but then when I moved back to bloomington in the late ninties he was back w/ his store and I of course met him then…a cool guy to buy records from and have a discussion with…then of course I’d run into him at second story and such..he’d give a a knowing nod…one of those guys you don’t nesesarily (sp) have to say anything to communicate with….

  2. oh yeah saw your knew “by-line” I’m not sure that there is a blogger term for it—and it depends on Which jimmy james you’re talking about…my two favorites are the Jimmy James who was an expatriot soul singer in the british mod scene:
    and then there’s the cross dressing diva:
    and of course the jimmy james who was guitarist/sideman for alot of soul singers in the early and mid sixties and then went on to have an expatroit career in england with a strange stylistic device of being an african american man copying white british guiarists who where copying african american guitarists…or something like that….

  3. I must confess, it’s the Jimmy James Dan refers to, although the other ones sound fascinating and might very well have served as name inspirations for Stephen Root’s character.

    (and the tagline changes each time you reload the page – there are ten now, I think.)

  4. Ledt Bloomington just over a month ago after having been there for 8 years as an undergrad and a grad student. Last few months were very hectic, and I didn’t get to go to Tom’s shop at all. Before I left, I made it a point to go there and say goodbye and thanks for making my time in B-ton that much better. I got to the store and saw the note on the door about being in Indy for a medical procedure.

    Sorry I never got to say bye Tom. I’ll miss ya.

  5. “Anybody know if there’s particular brand Mr. D favored?”

    When I was tending bar at Second Story I seem to remember sending Tom away into the crowd with Bass on a regular basis. Gratis, of course…

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