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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

R.I.P. Fred Cole, Dead Moon and Pierced Arrows frontman

Photo: Anthony Pidgeon/Getty Images
Photo: Anthony Pidgeon/Getty Images

Fred Cole, a legend in the Portland music scene who, alongside his wife Toody Cole, fronted the punk-garage outfits Dead Moon and Pierced Arrows, has died. Cole was hospitalized last week for bleeding in his liver, according to Willamette Week, and earlier today Toody posted on the Pierced Arrows Facebook page:

I‘m so sorry to have to let you know that Fred lost his battle with cancer & passed away peacefully in his sleep last night, Nov 9, 2017. Thanks you one & all for all the years & memories we all shared together, for being friends first & business partners second, so proud to be a part of your lives.

Fred had that quality of being “immortal” and I believe his songs & recordings will make it so. We can always hear his voice & his passion there and remember it like it was only yesterday & will go on forever. I love you all, Toody


He was 69.

Born in Las Vegas, Cole started his career as a member of ‘60s psychedelic garage-rock band The Weeds, who later changed their name to The Lollipop Shoppe. The band released only four singles and two albums during its short career, but its song “You Must Be A Witch” is prized among collectors thanks to its inclusion on the 1980 garage-rock compilation Pebbles, Vol. 8.

After relocating to Portland in the mid-’60s, Cole met his future wife, Kathleen “Toody” Conner, when she was working the door at a local venue. They married in 1967, and spent the next two decades in Alaska and the Portland suburb of Clackamas, Oregon, raising their three children and forming various bands.

In 1987, Fred and Toody Cole formed what would become their most well-known and longstanding collaboration, blues-influenced garage-punk band Dead Moon, with drummer Andrew Loomis. Although Dead Moon never broke through to the mainstream—and didn’t really want to—they were staples of the Pacific Northwest punk scene and boasted a cult following in Europe. The many garage-punk bands that came after them, like Black Lips and Jay Reatard, as well as grungy Pacific Northwest acts like Mudhoney and Pearl Jam, are all in Dead Moon’s stylistic debt.

Dead Moon broke up in 2006, at which point the Coles formed a new band, Pierced Arrows, with drummer Kelly Halliburton. In recent years, health issues prevented Fred Cole from performing as often as he liked, and he even collapsed on stage during a Dead Moon reunion set at Seattle’s Bumbershoot festival in 2015. Last year, the Coles officially announced their retirement from rock ‘n’ roll, although they continued to perform together as an acoustic act under the name Fred & Toody.

In a 2015 interview with Vice, Toody said of her husband, “He loves doing the acoustic duo thing. It’s a lot easier for him. He’s loving the rock ‘n’ roll stuff too, but he just can’t do it night after night. Wish to God we could. But we’ve bene doing this since 1990, and at this point we’re both 66 years old. But we’re having a great time. We just celebrated our 48th wedding anniversary and we wanted to be on the road, just the two of us.”