View blog reactions Waiting for Speedway Fowler: The sad death of Joe B.G.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


The sad death of Joe B.G.

I'm still on vacation up here in the wilds of Quebec. just checking in while I have a momentary wifi connection at the local A.E. Van Houtte cafe to leech off of, I thought I'd check in with a blog update.

Things are rather quiet here in the Eastern Townships, as the area between Montreal and Maine is known. I am staying in a lakeside cottage in the town of Austin, on the shores of Lac Memphremagog. There's a small store about a mile from here where I can get the Montreal Gazette. And a story in the Gazette caught my attention. It's the sad story of Joe B.G.

I should note off the top that I'm not a big rap/hip-hop fan.. Like most white guys, I know "The Message" and "My Adidas" by heart... and that's about it. (Run DMC/Aerosmith doesn't count. Come on, man.) ... *and* I don't speak French. Those facts, combined, should leave me squarely outside the Joe B.G. fan base. But for the past 24 hours, I've been thinking about this guy... not from a music perspective, (though I'll probably download a couple of his tracks just to pay tribute) but as an affirmation of the fatalist's conviction of the universal law that when your number's up, it's up.

Jonathan Beaupre Guilbault was an up and coming star on the Quebec music scene. He was 26 years old, and had just recorded his second album. He'd gone all-in. Music was the guy's life. He was doing his dream full-time... and he was succeeding. Quebec rap, admittedly, is a niche market, but Joe B.G., as he called himself, was gaining notoriety. His second album was about to hit the streets and he'd landed in a headlining gig at the Francofolies Music festival in Montreal.. a BIG deal.

The night before he was supposed to take the stage, a fire broke out at the rowhouse in Montreal where Guilbault lived. Everyone inside the complex, most of them elderly and disabled, made it out. Everyone except Guilbault.

And here's the thing... it's like life itself conspired to kill Joe B.G.. Firefighters might have been able to drag him out of the blaze, but the other residents told them that he's parked his car in the alley in the back, a definitive indication that he was out of town for the weekend. He only parked in the back when he went away.

Except this time. Guilbault's body wasn't found for 36 hours after the fire was extinguished. Firefighters only looked for him after he missed a gig. His neighbor's were SURE he was out of town.

Oh, and there's one other thing. Firefighters were late getting to the fire because they were operating out of a different station. Their own had been cleared out for the weekend to be fogged because of a rat infestation.

So as Joe B.G prepared for the biggest show of his life, the odds were being stacked against him, and when he crashed for the night, the dice rolled and came up 7s. And he never even knew it.

I never met the guy. I know very little about him. And as I said, I don't speak French, the language in which Guilbault performed. But a story of the fates conspiring to screw a kid who was just looking for a break? Hell, that's a story anyone can understand.

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