‘Crusty’ farewelled in style
"CRUSTY" Dave Rankin would have loved the spectacle - on a typical sleepy Sunday in Lismore, a merry New Orleans-style funeral procession lit up the streets, even stopping traffic on the Bruxner Highway.
More than a hundred friends, family fans and fellow musicians joined the procession for the legendary Lismore jazzman from his Girards Hill home to his favoured watering hole at the Lismore bowlo.
The spectacle might have represented a typical day in his colourful life; packed to the brim with memorable antics and hijinx.
Admirers Margaret and Denise from Lismore said of the trombonist and raconteur: "It was a well earnt mark of respect for him. He was loved by everyone - young and old."
"He was always the life of the party; the centre of attention."
"At the end he had an oxygen tank beside him and he still played. It's what he loved to do."
Another friend recalled one of his last gigs at Uki where younger players were in awe of him because he knew "all the variations" of a particular tune.
Granddaughter Crystal Goetz, 21, flew up from Melbourne for the memorial day.
"He had a charisma which couldn't be matched," she said.
"He was always that person able to have a laugh no matter how serious the situation. "
Grandson Zac Hailstone, 25, said his grandfather represented "a spark of character we all had but couldn't recognise until we met him."
"His last words of wisdom were: 'never wait to be yourself'."
Fellow Belcher band mate and Lismore mechanic Matt Mason described Crusty as a "one off".
"No one in this town has made more people laugh," he declared.
"I admired his showmanship - with clothes on and off."
He moved to the Northern Rivers in the 1980's and quickly became a fixture at local jazz nights, adding to what was then a burgeoning music scene with many offbeat characters.
He famously ran a practical joke-a-gram service in the late 80s and 90s, including strip-o-grams, gorilla-grams, and even a "dero-gram".
It cemented his reputation as the wildman of the Lismore music scene and his attitude as a performer.