Skip Brown

Skip Brown playing Guitar-2 copy

Skip Brown, shortly before his death in 1969. Photo: Richard Reimer

These days, a trip home to visit my folks in Lantzville, BC, includes an interview with my dad, Richard Reimer. We usually sit and talk over a few beers, mostly about him and his counter-culture friends back in the 60s. These stories are priceless, and most times I roll a tape recorder on them, going to bed feeling like I just hit the jackpot.

Skip Brown—an outspoken singer/songwriter from Swift Current, Saskatchewan—was known as the crazy one in the group, and he took his experimental drug use further than the others. Skip was an artist to the core, and spent most of his time shooting dope and writing poetry for days on end. He kept his many cocktail napkins of song lyrics and poems hidden inside an old stove, doubling as a filing cabinet. In addition to being a prolific wordsmith, he was also a loyal friend. And those who knew him best, including my dad, worried about his reckless lifestyle, fearing his drug abuse would inevitably kill him; he died of a heroin overdose in 1969, aged 27.

But what about all of his work, saved up in that old stove? Gone—tossed to the curb along with the rest of his belongings. I’ve often wondered how things would have unfolded had someone taken the time to preserve and curate his work. Perhaps we would be celebrating his work today the same way we do Vivian Maier, whose photography was discovered posthumously.

I find my dad’s past fascinating. And with his permission, I’ve taken some of his stories, tossed them in a blender with a bunch of my own stories and ideas, and have found a way of fitting them together to tell one tale. I look forward to sharing a few pages of my novel, The Swift Current, with you soon.

-Nate Reimer