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This world is a sadder place with Shurilla gone.
This world is a sadder place with Shurilla gone.

Musician Mark Shurilla dies

Buddy Holly just died ... again.

Mark Shurilla, an intimate part of the music scene in Milwaukee, has died today. Heart problems is all I know.

Shurilla was best known for his Buddy Holly tribute show and I have an incredible tie with his show. Back in the day I was a hot shot columnist for the Milwaukee Journal and quite a bar prowler. There weren't many bartenders or owners I didn't know.

One of Milwaukee's best known places was Nic's Nicabob, a place on State Street, just west of 27th street. Nic Boumont, the impresario, called me one day and asked if I would come and introduce a new Buddy Holly tribute band for its first performance.
I said sure and showed up on the appointed night.

Nic's was a hot place. Johnny Cash played there as did Loretta Lynn, Waylon Jennings, George Jones and Charlie Pride. Nic also gave many local bands a place to work on their live chops.

Time came for the new act and I got up and as near as I can recall said something like this:

"We all remember the day the music died. Well, it's coming back. With his brand new, hot Buddy Holly show, ladies and gentlemen put your hands together for Mark Shurilla."
I stepped aside, grandly, and they started with the first song, True Love Ways. It's a hard song under any circumstances, but without much rehearsal, it can be a bear.

They had not rehearsed enough and one guitar was in one key and the other guitar was in another.

Shurilla was nothing if not determined. He plowed straight ahead, trying to sing in the key his guitar was playing and the other guitar could be damned.

Alderman Paul Henningsen was in the crowd that night and I thought he was going to have a heart attack from laughing. He actually fell out of his chair.

Shurilla and his show got much better. I live in his neighborhood and saw him nearly every day, walking his little dog. The dog was just like Mark, a little disheveled, a little unsteady and seeming to have a lot of fun.

This world is a sadder place with Shurilla gone. He helped a lot of musicians in this town and was always full of optimism and spirit, two qualities in notable short supply in the world of music.

Talkbacks

summertimeblues | May 15, 2012 at 4:59 p.m. (report)

Mark was 64 when he died. Assumption is complications from quadruple bypass surgery last week. @Roger, a few sour grapes my friend. Didn't your mother ever teach you if you had nothing nice to say shutup? Apparently you were never at his sold out shows year after year. Perhaps a bit of musician envy I'd say? Mark was an amazing individual. Very gifted intelligient man. He will be missed for his wit and humor as well as his ability to entertain a crowd or his friends. RIP Mark.

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nomadme | May 15, 2012 at 1:54 p.m. (report)

From all at the Nomad, we will definitely miss Mark-- a solid staple and huge part of our annual St.Paddy's day fun.. it just won't be the same without Mark and the MacTavish boys!! Our condolences to the family.. And one last toast to our good friend... cheers and as Mark would say: pogue ma thoin!

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Roger | May 14, 2012 at 7:15 p.m. (report)

I don't like to speak ill of the dead...but Shurilla never did get in tune. Too bad.....

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asti247 | May 14, 2012 at 3:41 p.m. (report)

Was he really only 46? I find that hard to believe. Seem s as if he was wring for the Shepherd and playing music in Milwaukee in the 70's.

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