DARK ANGEL's GENE HOGLAN: JIM DURKIN's Death 'Was An Absolute Surprise'
May 25, 2023
DARK ANGEL drummer Gene Hoglan spoke to the Mike Nelson Show about the passing of the band's founding guitarist Jim Durkin, who died on March 8 at the age of 58. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "His loss was a real tragedy to us all. It was an absolute surprise. We knew Jim had some health issues, but we did not expect him to be taken from us. We found out very, very late in the game that Jim was no longer with us. He had already set up DARK ANGEL's future without him. He chose [guitarist] Laura Christine himself; that was completely, one hundred percent Jim's voice. And she's got the talent to take over for Jim, absolutely. But Jim's musical legacy, we'll always honor that."
Gene continued: "Yes, obviously, there was a time back in the late '80s through the early '90s where Jim was not with us. We had Brett Eriksen, we had Chris McCarthy [playing with us], and DARK ANGEL was able to continue without him. But then, when we got back together, of course, it's Jim, and he's our brother. And his songwriting impact — it impacted me. It impacted a whole lot of folks as well. So we just hope to do Jim's memory proud, honor his legacy of his great riffs and his great music. But DARK ANGEL, Jim will always be a part of us, even though for the last year or so of shows, he's not been our live guitarist. He always loved writing. We loved working on material together. That was pretty cool. So we'll always keep Jim very strong in our heart, absolutely. Big time."
Hoglan previously talked about Durkin's passing earlier in the month in an interview with Friday 13th. At the time, he said: "It was a shock to us, I'll admit. Jim has always been rather mercurial with us. There'd be times when he would disappear from the threads, and that's when he had mentioned that, 'Hey, there's gonna be some times coming up in the future that I might not be able to make certain shows or certain areas of live gigs.' He hand-chose Laura Christine to be his replacement.
"But his death was an absolute shock to the band," Gene continued. "We did not know that he was about to pass. We knew that there were some health issues, but we didn't know that we were about to lose our brother, and that hit us all real hard. We had just started that DEATH TO ALL tour — we were about a week into it — when I got the call from [DARK ANGEL singer] Ron Rinehart. And we all chatted about it. Everybody from the band was shattered.
"We knew that Jim would kind of disappear from time to time, but we didn't know that Jim, the last time he disappeared, he was gonna be gone forever. We didn't know that. So when we found out that he had passed, it was a real tough blow. But all we can do is just keep moving forward."
Hoglan also touched upon the progress of the songwriting sessions for DARK ANGEL's long-awaited new album, saying: "Jim and I, we had gotten together a number of times to write some new material for DARK ANGEL. And we weren't able to get it down on tape too much. If DARK ANGELhas any new material, there's a song that he's got on there that is pretty darn DARK ANGEL-esque.
"In tribute to Jim, DARK ANGEL's new material will have a ton of his spirit all over it — his feel. Whether he actually wrote stuff on the new stuff or not, his spirit is very there. His imprint is felt throughout thrash metal, I feel. Even before I was in DARK ANGEL, I'd see Jim's influence on bands. Absolutely. So his legacy will live forevermore in the realm of extreme metal. His style will always be a part of DARK ANGEL, absolutely, big time."
Pressed about the current status of new DARK ANGEL material, Gene said: "All I can say is that there is very, very, very, very exciting news that's gonna be coming from DARK ANGEL very soon. I think it's gonna make a lot of DARK ANGEL fans really happy. Until we are able to let anything out of the bag or anything, there's a number of things that DARK ANGEL is gonna be up to beforehand. The most I can say is I think it's gonna make a lot of people really happy, what's going on — as immediate DARK ANGEL future as we can, that's gonna be pretty darn cool for a lot of folks. So I'm pretty excited about the future… I'm really looking forward to the next coming months when we can let some people know what's happening, let folks know what's going on, and then also when they get the proof of all the things that are happening… We've got a lot of DARK ANGEL shows coming up. We've been doing like a 'Darkness Descends' night, and it's killer. We just did Los Angeles about a month ago — the most psychotic show I played since back in the day. Oh my God. Jesus, Lord Almighty. From minute one of the first show to the final minute of the last show, the three shows that we did, from ten seconds in, it was the most psychotic thing ever. So way to bring it, L.A., man. Let me tell ya."
Asked how the next DARK ANGEL album will compare to the band's previous efforts, Hoglan said: "Well, I can't really even comment on the fact that there might or might not be an album yet. But put it this way — if I were to have any new DARK ANGEL material, I would want it to be an extension of where the band is at now and where I'm at now. And I would probably approach the writing of it in a way as if DARK ANGEL never disappeared for a decade, two decades, three decades, or whatever it's been. It's just like we just kept doing what we do, and this would be where we're at right now. Which I would want to be putting out the most savage, heaviest material that DARK ANGEL could. And I'm no slouch with writing psychotic, heavy material. So I would be very, very excited with where DARK ANGEL's new material would be if that would be able to confirm."
An original member of DARK ANGEL, Durkin played on the band's first three albums — 1985's "We Have Arrived", 1986's "Darkness Descends" and 1989's "Leave Scars" — before departing the group in 1989. He was part of DARK ANGEL's lineup when the band reformed in 2013, and had been playing with them ever since.
DARK ANGEL released two albums with Don Doty on vocals — the aforementioned "We Have Arrived" and "Darkness Descends" — before he exited the group and was replaced by Rinehart (after a brief stint with Jim Drabos in 1987). The band issued two more studio LPs — "Leave Scars" and "Time Does Not Heal" — before calling it quits in 1992.
DARK ANGEL is:
Gene Hoglan - Drums Ron Rinehart - Vocals Eric Meyer - Guitar Michael Gonzalez - Bass Laura Christine - Guitar
Three weeks after Durkin's death, DARK ANGEL's surviving members issued the following statement: "On Thursday March 9, everyone in the DARK ANGEL family was notified of Jimmy Durkin's passing on Wednesday morning, March 8. Jim Durkin was the founder of DARK ANGEL, a major contributor to the music and was one of the founding fathers of thrash. He was known as the master of the riff with some of the most memorable and evil thrash riffs ever. Jim Durkin was family to all of the DARK ANGEL camp and will be deeply missed.
"Jim had been sitting out DARK ANGEL shows due to personal matters since 2020. Jim requested Laura Christine as his replacement, and she has joined us at the more recent DARK ANGEL appearances, as he'd requested that we keep it in the family.
"DARK ANGEL will continue to perform and record in Jim's memory and preserve his legacy, as he requested before his passing."
Hoglan said: "I miss you so much, my Brother. I never quite know how to grieve anymore. Had I known that our last few times together would be our last times together, I would have cherished them more. And you even more, Jim. You were my original guitar hero, my biggest influence, a truly inspirational legend to me and so many others. Had I, or any of us, only known that you'd be taken from us so suddenly, we would not have let you leave us…So suddenly. On tour, in my bunk, tears. Onstage, behind my kit, tears. Backstage, the thousand-yard stare. Tears. Realizing we'll never share the stage in this physical plane again…the greatest void. You chose The Unicorn yourself to fill that void. Only now am I beginning to grasp the complexity and graciousness of your monumental gift. My love for you gives me strength to get through this. And you are so beloved by everyone who knows you, Jim. Everyone. I sure hope you feel this. Your spirit will eternally live on, Brother. Onstage, with us, your wings will always be right where they belong, on stage right. In life, you'll always be in our hearts, right where you belong. At the front. Annie, Ron, Eric, Michael, Laura, Rob, and all of your friends and family love and miss you so much, Jimmy. I love you, Brother."
DARK ANGEL singer Ron Rinehart said: "Jimmy D was the very first person that I met in DARK ANGEL. Right from the start he was busting my balls! When I first spoke to Jimmy, we were talking about the band that I had just left. Jimmy said, 'We saw your band. They suck but we loved you!' I laughed. Another great memory I have was at a METALLICA and SUICIDAL TENDENCIES show. Someone told Jimmy, 'I don't like you when you're drunk,' and without skipping a beat, Jimmy answers, 'I don't like you when I'm sober.' I almost swallowed my tongue. I can't count the times where I would end up spitting something out of my nose!!! Jimmy would just laugh! He had the best sense of humor. From day one… we were Brothers… Yesterday, today and forever Jimmy will always be my Brother!!! Until we meet again!! I Love you."
DARK ANGEL guitarist Eric Meyer stated: "Way back in '84, I placed an ad in the Recycler newspaper: 'Guitarist seeking established band'. Jim Durkin called me, DARK ANGEL was his band. We instantly connected, and I will never forget that first phone call, the beginning of a friendship that would last 39 years. A lifetime of memories were created, and I'm devastated that we won't be making more. Forever in my heart, my stage right brother."
DARK ANGEL bassist Michael Gonzalez said: "Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy. You and I go way back. I remember when I first joined DA and you would come over to my house to teach me songs. We'd sit out in the garage and run through the 'Darkness Descends' set. I was with you the very first time you met Annie and fell in love with her from the moment you saw her. I was there when you married her. We have shared so many moments together that are just indescribable. I will miss you forever my friend, my brother, my family. Until we meet again, you will always be such a huge part of my life. Good bye… for now."
Laura Christine, who is married to Hoglan, said: "At the California Death Fest in 2018, Jim Durkin took me aside and said that he would be stepping down from playing live, and that he wanted me to take over his live duties for DARK ANGEL. Coming from one of my guitar heroes, this was a major shock, followed by a mixed array of emotions. I felt honored yet greatly concerned for my hero. Nobody wants to see their guitar hero step down, let alone leave this earth. It's a very heavy thing for me to digest.
"I love and greatly respect Jimmy and his playing so much, and it is a tremendous, immense honor to be chosen and encouraged by him to fill his spot. I will do my best to honor Jim and help preserve not only my friend's memory, but also the DARK ANGEL legacy."
Jim's wife Annie Durkin has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help with Jim's medical expenses and memorial.
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