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Music Community to remember one of its own

By Staff | Jan 15, 2019

A Celebration of Life will be held for a local musician who touched every life he crossed, human and animal alike, this Saturday at Dixie Roadhouse.

Tommy Yates, who was born on May 2, 1964 in Peoria, Ill, passed away on Dec. 13, 2018, at 10:30 a.m. with his mother beside him.

“I was with him when he was conceived, born and when he died. It was a peaceful death, which I’m so thankful for,” Sharon Linsberg, his mother, said. “Tommy was one of the most caring, and giving people I knew. I think if you have read any of the stuff on Facebook you would see. He honestly loved animals, he loved people. He was full of life and he loved music.”

The well-known local musician first got a taste of music while he was still inside his mother’s womb.

“His father played saxophone. He was in several bands 50 years ago,” she said. “I was pregnant and my husband was in a band in college. He was playing with the band in town. Even at 9 months pregnant I would go. Tommy would kick in tune to the music of the drums.”

Although Yates took only one music lesson in Illinois, he was pretty much self-taught.

“Seeing Tommy on stage playing bass and singing was always a joy,” manager Iona Elliott said. “His love of music and his playing, which was so exceptional, really made anyone in the audience get up and dance, or at least tap their foot.”

The Yates family moved to Cape Coral in 1978 when Tommy was 14. The teenager got straight A’s in school and played the guitar and bass before later joining local bands. Elliott said at one time he was a surgical technician in Naples, but went back to his love of music.

“He loved music. I don’t know whether his love for music, or animals was more. He loved his family first, probably animals and then music, I would say,” Linsberg said.

She said he had a dog, who recently died, who lived to be 17 years old.

“It was the coolest dog you could have ever hoped to meet,” his mother said of the part pitbull, part mutt. “She smiled. She would grin from ear to ear and prance around.”

Yates was hired to tour in 2007 with the national band, The Bullet Boys right before their hit album was released in 2008. He left the band after “Rocklahoma” in 2010.

Elliott said he most recently was in the band PUSH, until their lead singer, J. Jaye Steele, passed away in 2014. She said after that he continued to play with two of PUSH’s members, Mark Chang and Jeff Miles in a trio. After Miles moved away, Yates and Chang played in Remedy, which Chang had formed years earlier.

“Tommy put his musical attributes into playing country rock music with the Jack Michael Band. He helped contribute to writing, as well as playing in this band,” Elliott said. “Tommy always, since I’ve known him, put his music first. He lived and breathed music and spent little time other than working in landscaping during the day and playing music at night.”

On June 21, 2011, Elliott heard Yates play with his band PUSH at The Joint, which is now Fathoms.

“Our lives were never the same again,” she said. “My husband, Dennis, who was the original drummer of Foreigner, and I thought that they were so good that we got involved in helping them and I eventually became their manager.”

Elliott said her husband had not played drums in years but PUSH was so exceptional, he was happy to get up and play drums with them on several occasions.

The Celebration of Life will be held from 2 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19, at Dixie Roadhouse, 1023 S.E. 47th Terrace. All ages are welcome and a $5 donation is being requested at the door to pay for expenses.

The celebration will include live music: 2-2:30 p.m. Tolerance Zero; 2:50-3:20 p.m. AmpiFly; 3:35-4 p.m. Tommy Williams and Polo Stabler of Afterlife; 4:20-5 p.m. Bite The Bullet; 5:20-6 p.m. Remedy with Dan Bolen, Mark Chang- original member of PUSH, Gregg Sallen formerly of PUSH and Angela Chang of Hester Prynn; 6:20 – 7 p.m. Jack Michael Band and from 7:20 – 8 p.m. Headliner Bad Company former lead singer Brian Howe and Dennis Elliott, original drummer of Foreigner, plus guests.

A 50/50 raffle to benefit the Cape Coral Animal Shelter will be held, as well as a silent and live auction to help with the celebration and medical expenses.

The Dixie Roadhouse is at 1023 S.E. 47th Terrace in the South Cape entertainment district.