Jack Osiecki, 1971-2001
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On the afternoon of Sept. 26, a local 911 operator received an urgent call from a young man having a severe asthma attack in his Hampden home. When emergency medical technicians arrived, they found the caller, John Edward Osiecki III, lying on his front porch, no longer breathing. He was 29 years old.
An only child who grew up in northern Anne Arundel County, Jack Osiecki started playing guitar at 12 or 13 and, his wife, Kimberly Osiecki, says, he always thought of himself first and foremost as a musician, whatever else he was doing in life. He would even rent musical instruments, just to figure out how to play them. In the mid '90s, Osiecki put his intense focus on music to work by forming the quintet Seade (pronounced "shade"). During a particularly rich period for local rock, when bands like Lungfish, Candy Machine, and Liquor Bike regularly filled clubs, Seade's neo-psychedelic guitar epics stood out.
"They wrote beautiful songs, and Jack had one of the most melodic voices," friend and former Liquor Bike guitarist David Koslowski recalls. "When he sang, you knew he meant every word--you got chills up your spine."
Seade was named Best Rock Band in City Paper's 1995 Best of Baltimore issue and signed to New York-based Grass Records the same year. Many scenesters tagged the band for next-big-thing status. But by the time its debut album, Perf, came out in 1996, Seade was already on the verge of falling apart, and did so not long afterward.
The slight, quiet singer/guitarist dropped out of the local scene for a while; when he came back a couple of years later, he'd ditched his Seade-era flowery shirts and long hair for leather and spiky black locks. Most recently, he played lead guitar in Cherry Chrome, a punk band whose singer, Steve Tracy, became one of Osiecki's closest friends. "He was a kick-ass person," Tracy says, and "one of the best guitar players in the city." Osiecki had also recently started playing drums in 69 A-Go-Go.
On Sept. 3, Jack and Kimberly Osiecki had celebrated their first wedding anniversary. They met 12 years ago at a party. "I don't remember who started it," Kimberly remembers, "but one of us quoted a line from a Christian Death song and the other one said the next line." Those who knew Jack Osiecki unfailingly describe him as a kind, supportive, and thoughtful person of enormous talents, devoted to music as well as to his wife and the menagerie of pets they took in.
Osiecki would have turned 30 this Halloween. The punk-rock holiday/birthday bash Cherry Chrome had planned at the Ottobar on Oct. 27 will now be a benefit to help Kimberly Osiecki with funeral expenses. Destroyer 666, 2 Fisted Revenge, and Cherry Chrome--with a guest guitarist standing in for Osiecki--are scheduled to perform.