Today I spoke and played tenor saxophone at the events commemorating Andrew Blanco, my friend, musical brother and bandleader for King Chango, which I had the honor of touring the world with for 8 years.. On November 16th, 2017 he passed away after battling Colon cancer. He was 46 years old.
Andrew was one of those rare exceptional individuals who was excellent at so much and uplifting for so many. Not many people are self actualized at such a young age as he was, and every time we'd meet for a rehearsal, a performance, a tour or just hanging out he was always learning and discovering a myriad of subjects. "Dude, did you check out ____?" He was always inquisitive and interested in mashing things up and creating amazing works.
It didn't matter what challenges we all were going through, he had that positive spirit and optimism that inspired people no matter what city or country we were.
In addition to being a champion blackbelt in Karate, an incredible musician, singer and performer, he was a world class graphic designer. He designed the logos for so many sports teams (Florida Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars, et al) and organizations including for my own Amazon Prime supernatural detective show Changelings for which the cast, crew and I are eternally grateful. His generosity and talent were absolutely legendary
I had been invited to speak in a Eulogy for him and this were my notes... I forgot what I had said on the actual day, but these words were the starting point:
"Jose Andres Blanco, our pana, our bandleader, our blanquitoman. One of the most positive, uplifting, kind, inspirational generous human beings I have known… and graced to call my friend, redeemer, forgiver, my musical brother.
From Caracas, to Australia, Mexico City to Japan, I was honored to travel and make music with him and my King Chango family for 8 years. He had the special ability to invigorate stadiums of 100,000 people or uplift a quiet room with 4 words: “Que paso me Gente!!!” I'd seen it dozens of times on stage performing with him in King Chango in every country and city, and it always made me smile and inspired me.
One story…. Andrew and I did the Canadian national anthem for the Toronto raptors NBA team in 2001. Long story short, it got off track and the crowd got a little restless. Andrew cracked a joke, started again and had the crowd back into it singing along and cheering wildly by the end of it.
His wisdom, insight and wit brought joy and comfort to so many of us. He was uplifting and positive all the way through the tough times. We take comfort that in his time here, that the people and the world are better place than he found it by his words, his deeds, and his boundless good energy.
Our friend is no longer in pain and joins the infinite beyond and cosmic energy… and I am sure that he is hanging out with Jimi Hendrix, Prince, David Bowie and other heavyweights and making great art and music in the great concert in the sky… teaching them to ragamuffin and salsa , shouting joyfully “Big ups and respect! Respect to the roots and respect to the culture! One LOVE!!!”
In lives he touched, in you Candice his beloved wife, brother Negro, mama & papa Chango, Glenda, Pulpo, Jason, Nova and all of us as we traveled with him in life…. And in all of us who knew him and loved him…. his spirit, legacy and music continues always. We were proud to call him our hermano, our amigo…. Our blanquito."