Charlotte's punk scene lost a big chunk of its soul this morning with the death of Chris Peigler. Peigler's support of local music and the punk scene, specifically, was practically unparalleled. He was a musician, a fan, and a friend.
Peigler died earlier today at the hospital. Peigler had struggled with kidney disease for the last four years, but his passing shocked the local music community. He may have had health problems, but his light and general enthusiasm for life and passion for music never wavered. It's something many friends have noted on his Facebook page today.
I met Chris in the late `90s while he was fronting My So-Called Band. He later went on to form the Rogue Nations, but even before I moved to Charlotte in the mid `90s he was a fixture of the local punk scene. We bonded over riot grrl and female-fronted punk bands. From Bikini Kill to Naked Aggression to the Eyeliners and Dollyrots - I can't think of anyone that shared my very specific passion for feminist, female-fronted punk and that was as excited to discuss it.
But Chris wasn't just passionate about riot grrrl, he was passionate about punk rock and he was a lifer. While fans often abandon their interest in punk as they age, Peigler didn't. He still wore his leather jacket and packed the annual Punk Rock Picnic at Tremont well into what I'm told were his fifties. It was really hard to tell with his youthful energy how old he was. He was also supportive of young up and coming bands, which many folks have noted online. I remember more than a few new bands Chris would urge me to check out. Some of them could even be pretty bad at first, but a lot of those kids stuck with it and got really good.
He first told me about his health problems during a show at the Milestone a few years ago. Over the last year we emailed back and forth about the medical roller coaster he seemed to be on. I'd proposed doing a story about it, because it was unusual. While blood tests suggested he suffered from kidney disease and was in need of a transplant, he didn't exhibit symptoms or feel bad. He explored alternative medicine and acupuncture, which seemed to help but didn't change his test results.
The last time we spoke was in September when he emailed me about Kathleen Hanna's band Julie Ruin playing "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon." There were new developments about his diagnosis and he was very hopeful.
As news of his death spread today, generations of Charlotte music folks have posted about Peigler's warmth and generosity. Those posts come from musicians in their fifties that knew Chris in the `80s to punk kids he probably met a few months ago. The sentiment is always the same - the guy that would greet you with a smile, maybe a hug, and wanted to talk music.
From what I hear Peigler was the same genial person at work.
"He was well liked and respected around the office for very much the same reasons he was a hero to the Charlotte music community," says Peigler's former co-worker Jamie Sheats. "He would have done anything to help you if he could."
There's talk of Peigler's beloved punk community paying tribute to him at abenefit concert at Tremont in the coming weeks. I'll post more details on that as they become available.
(Photo from Peigler's Facebook page)