(Tony Gable, 2009. Photo by Alex Crick)
We were incredibly sad to hear the news of Tony Gable’s passing. Tony was a lovely human being in every sense of the word. We were fortunate enough to work with Tony on one of our flagship releases, a collection of Seattle funk and soul from the 1960s and ’70s called Wheedle’s Groove. On that first Wheedle’s volume, we were fortunate enough to include two killer tracks by the band Cold, Bold & Together featuring Tony, along with Harrison Allen, Harry Alexander, Kenny Gorelick, brothers TC & Jamar Jenkins, and Phillip Woo. Back in ’03, I remember calling up Tony, nervously introducing myself, and telling him about our dream of compiling a set of Seattle soul tunes from the ’60s and ’70s, all hand-picked by DJ Supreme La Rock. Even though I had little knowledge of Seattle’s soul history and Tony didn’t know us from Adam, he was immediately supportive, which was always his nature. If only everyone was that understanding.
On that first call, I remember Tony asking, “Do you know who’s playing sax?”
Embarrassingly, I didn’t have a clue. Tony replied, “Kenny G.” I laughed, not quite sure why he’d mention this or was trying to pull my leg, and so I simply kept on talking, telling Tony about some of the other artists that we’d hope to include on the comp: Black On White Affair, Overton Berry, and Robbie Hill’s Family Affair. He interrupted, “No, I’m serious.” I was confused, to say the least.
Tony was a true lover of music from his days in CBT to fronting his own band, Tony Gable & 206. He never tired of sharing his passion for music, especially for bands like War, Sly & The Family Stone, and Earth, Wind & Fire. If there was a gig, he was there and always positive and professional. When it came to the Wheedle’s Groove band, Tony was always upfront, honest, and real. No bullshit. For a band that often had over twenty members, that was a helpful characteristic. You could say he was more George than Ringo, Paul, and John.
Alongside his music life, Tony was an exceptionally talented designer. After studying fine arts at Western Washington University in Bellingham, where CBT first formed back in ’71, he designed the group’s costumes (those unmistakable mid-70s “ice suits!”) and some of the scene’s great show posters–one of which is proudly framed on our walls here at Light In The Attic in Los Angeles.
(The King County logo – designed by Tony)
If you’re a Seattle local, you already know Tony’s work: he designed the unmistakable logo for King County (Seattle, Tacoma, Bellevue, and the surrounding areas). Looking back, I don’t think Tony even told me that. I probably learned it from one of his friends.
(Cold, Bold & Together, circa 1974/5, Tony’s in the back, at the very center)
Our hearts and thoughts go out to Tony’s wife, Gina, their two sons, Trey and Miles, and the rest of Tony’s family and friends.
Tony, we’ll miss you.
– Matt Sullivan