The Valley Rockstar Memorial, the popular Tempe mural paying tribute to deceased local musicians, plans to include a couple of new entries.
Tommy Gwinn, the Tempe resident who hosts the murals on the concrete fence of his Tempe home at 1992 East Richards Way, says the project will add painted portraits of Lawrence Zubia, the frontman for Pistoleros, and guitarist Danny Patterson of rap-rock band Phunk Junkeez, over the next couple of months.
“They've all made contributions to local music and had a significant impact that went beyond the Valley and affected millions,” Gwinn says. “There was no way I could leave them off of the wall.”
The mural, which was created last year after Gwinn added the wall to his property, features portraits painted by artist and former Valley resident Gina Ribaudo. It currently includes paintings of Valley natives Chester Bennington, Gin Blossoms songwriter Doug Hopkins, The Wallace and Ladmo Show bandleader Mike Condello, guitarist Glen Buxton, and keyboardist Vince Welnick.
Gwinn, a local music fan and manager of jazz/funk band Jade Road, told Phoenix New Times last year he wanted to pay tribute to legendary local musicians based on “the imprint they left on rock music and the hearts of those of us in the Valley who loved them.”
A longtime fan of Zubia, who died last December from pneumonia, Gwinn says the Pistoleros frontman qualifies, as he was “very beloved by the local scene for decades.”
“So many people had great respect for his style and presence,” he says. “I couldn't imagine not having him up here because he was such a notable person who touched so many people's lives with his music.”
Gwinn started planning to add Zubia’s portrait to the mural after his death in December, including launching a GoFundMe campaign to pay for it, when he was contacted about adding Patterson as well.
After learning about the late guitarist, who performed with the Phunk Junkeez from 1999 until his death in 2016, Gwinn was happy to oblige.
“A friend of his from high school hit me up and asked if we could have Danny on there,” he says. “I’d been wanting to include him for a while but didn’t know how to get ahold of his family for permission, so it all worked out.”
Gwinn estimates the portrait for Zubia will be created by Ribaudo, who lives in California but will visit to paint, later this month. He expects Patterson’s portrait will be finished by the end of March.
Gwinn says the mural is his way of keep memories of local music legends alive.
"Someone told me once that everybody dies twice: The first time is when they pass away and the second is when everybody forgets who they were," Gwinn says. "And I'm trying to help keep the second one from happening as much as possible. I think it's important, because these people that had an influence on our lives, we should keep their memories alive as long as we're alive."
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