Remembering Rockford’s Rock Legend, Verne K. Smith
Every town has a legend, and Verne K. Smith was the greatest rock music fan in Rockford.
I didn't grow up in Rockford. I never met Verne. But his legend still lives on.
Over the past few days I've heard so many stories of the legend of Verne. I've learned a few things:
- Verne has been to every rock show in Rockford, ever. You knew you were at a great local show when Verne would show up.
- His dance moves were stellar. He would punch the air while rocking in the same place.
- You could always see Verne walking from bar to bar in his fringe jacket, or he would hitch a ride with the band. (He once had his jacket stolen, but another band bought him one!)
- Everyone knew Verne, and Verne knew everyone.
- In 2011, the Rockford Area Music Industry started the Verne K. Smith Music Scholarship.
- Verne danced until the day he died.
Yes, sadly as all of you know, Verne K. Smith did pass away on Jan. 12, 2011 at the age of 64. He was so well loved by the community that in 2001, the Rockford Area Music Industry named Verne "the biggest music fan of all time."
I asked around Townsquare Media, how many people knew of Verne and the stories were endless.
Rob Carroll remembers Verne being Verne:
I remember seeing Verne a few times throughout Rockford. I would mostly see him at smaller bars in town. Verne would also find a way into some of the bigger shows that came to Rockford. My most memorable moment seeing him was during a Poison and Sebastian Bach concert at the MetroCentre, now BMO Harris Bank Center, in 2008. Our seats were up in the stands, just left of the steps to head down to the concourse. Verne spent almost the entire concert dancing on the platform where the steps turn to take you back under the stands. He looked like he was having the best night of his life. The best part was, not a single security person came up to him to tell him to go back to his seat. They knew it was Verne being Verne.
Mike Harris learned the live music scene by seeing Verne:
Everywhere you went, you saw Verne. He would be at every show. He was smiling, dancing and having the best time of his life. As a young guy who just started learning the bar scene, he became the pillar of any live music show. If you saw Verne, you knew you were at a great show.
Dave Alan never met Verne, but knew his favorite band:
Verne always had a Bullet shirt on. It was his favorite band. I never knew him, but he was that guy that was always at every show.
Rich Gordon from the Sunday Morning Blues says:
Verne was the barometer of cool. he knew all the bands and all the bars. He was a Rockford icon. If he was there, you knew the band was going to be great. He walked everywhere and hitched rides at the end of the night with band members, DJ's, bartenders and anyone else who would give him a ride. Verne always had a story about his most recent musical escapades. Verne was Verne.
What memories do you have with Verne? We'd love to hear them in the comments below.