Chuck Garric says his father was a "bluegrasser."
When he wasn't fighting fires for the city of South Lake Tahoe, Charles "Bud" Garric played banjo. Chuck Garric remembers his dad often playing one of his favorites songs "I'll Fly Away," a classic country tune most recently covered by Alison Krauss for the movie "Oh Brother Where Art Thou."
The memory became both poignant and practical during an impromptu public appearance.
Garric, best know as the bass player for Alice Cooper, toured last summer with the Boxmasters, Billy Bob Thornton's country band. The Boxmasters opened for Willie Nelson.
From the side of the stage, Garric watched Nelson's band during the tour's final show. Nelson's bass player Bee Spears motioned Garric to come near.
"He puts his bass around my neck and says, 'Willie's going to play a gospel song and it's in G,' and he pushes me onstage," said Garric, who knew every note of the tune. It was "Fly Away."
"Willie never turned around until the end of the song," Garric said. "At the end of it, he turned around and looked at me and gave me a little wink. The guys all put down their instruments and walked away, and they all gave me a hug.
"It was a very moving experience, and I knew my pops was up there watching over me on that tune, just having a good time."
It was a career highlight for Garric, a Tahoe kid who grew up to become a rock star. Another highlight will be Saturday, Oct. 16, when he donates his bass to the Hard Rock Cafe Lake Tahoe.
"It makes me proud to be from Lake Tahoe," he said. "I want to bring something to the city of South Lake Tahoe. Whether it's music or snowboarding or whatever, there's plenty of opportunity out there, whether you are from a big city or a small town. I'm hoping to bring some sort of inspiration to anybody out there."
Garric's Hard Rock appearance coincides with an Alice Cooper concert at 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16, a general admission show in Harrah's Lake Tahoe's South Shore Room.
Performing on the Hard Rock stage from 5-6:30 p.m. will be local noisemakers Ninja Slaughterhouse, who in the second part of the set will be joined by Garric and Alice Cooper band members Damon Johnson, Keri Kelli and Jimmy DeGrasso.
Garric also performed at Tahoe shortly after he joined Alice Cooper in 2002. After a concert at the Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena at Harveys, he had a late dinner at the Hard Rock.
"I thought it would be very nice to have something like that on the wall in the town where I grew up," he said. "It definitely means a lot to me. I'm very, very happy and feel very privileged."
Garric will donate his black vintage 4 ESP Bass, which was used on the Psychodrama tour and the current Theater of Death tour.
"I used to take it and smash it and throw it around onstage," he said. "The thing just took a licking and kept on ticking. This one deserves to be recognized."
When he was a teenager, Garric, now 42, played in a Tahoe metal band called Lochhaven. He wore black and white pants like those of Iron Maiden bassist Steve Harris. Lochhaven went to Los Angeles seeking fame and fortune.
"Little did we know there were a billion bands in Los Angeles," Garric said. "We lasted about a week."
Garric remained in L.A. where he attended the Dick Grove School of Music.
He returned to Tahoe in 1995 and played in the band Diabolical.
A year later he and Derek and Ian Morris had a band named Turd, which was signed to a record deal after a gig at Rojo's Tavern. Garric returned to L.A. where Turd had a short run but Garric got a big break, passing an audition with L.A. Guns.
He later joined Ronnie James Dio and went on a tour with Motörhead.
Garric eventually teamed up with Alice Cooper, who has included the bass player on his last three albums.
"Chuck is one of those guys who every single night you never have to worry about," Cooper said. "He's a stone-cold professional. When you can depend upon the guys in your band every night to be as up and as on as you are, then it's going to make a great tour. And he's really a very mediocre poker player, which is very important to me."
Garric recently moved to Reno in order to be close to his daughter Alisha, who is a freshman at Reno High School.
Garric said "family comes first," for him, and he makes frequent visits to Squaw Valley, Tahoe City and his old hometown of South Lake Tahoe. You might see Garric at the Fresh Ketch and surmise he's just like any other family man. Or maybe the tattoos will give him away. Once that bass goes on the wall at the Hard Rock, he'll consider himself a genuine rock star.
"To me it's official," he said. "Then it's the real deal."