Mark Smith, singer of The Creatures of The Golden Dawn has left us. Mark and I had recently reconnected on Facebook and we were in the middle of putting together a vinyl-only “best of” compilation with tracks from their albums and singles (including tracks from their early ’90s Dionysus releases) when Mark passed – we got as far as the test pressing stage. The future of the release is currently up in the air but I have been in touch with Creatures guitarist Steven Schlack and hope to speak someone from Mark’s family so we can get this release out – it is a brilliant set of 14 of their best tracks.
A good friend of Mark’s, Nicole McMurtrie wrote some words about Mark and also posted an obituary via Facebook which are both in this post.
Have a peaceful journey Mark…
Obituary from The Morning Call
Mark Smith of Bethlehem passed away on June 1st due to complications related to Huntington’s Disease. Mark attended school in the East Penn School District and graduated from Emmaus High School in 1976. After graduating from Kutztown University, where he studied Business, he moved to New York City where he worked for the B. Altman Department Store for several years. Returning to the Allentown area Mark worked for many years as a credit analyst for Dun and Bradstreet. Mark’s parents were the late Pearl Brotzman from Easton, and Cody H. Smith from Durham, NC.
Over the years Mark had an abiding interest in music which led him in 1985 to begin performing. In part he was inspired by such local mid-1960s Allentown groups as The Shillings and Kings Ransom whose music he had heard in his youth. With the talent of brilliant collaborators who Mark was honored to work with, he was able to form a musical group which came to be called “The Creatures of The Golden Dawn.” Beloved by many, The Creatures performed often in the Lehigh Valley, Philadelphia, New York. and as far away as Montreal and Moscow. In contact with music lovers all the world, on the last day of his life he was preparing a package of CDs to send to a fan in Spain.
He is survived by his brother Gregg, sister-in-law Irene, and nephew Ian, of Wescosville. Also cousins Linda Brotzman of Schnecksville, and Tom Brotzman of McAllisterville, PA.
Mark was diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease in 2007. It is a debilitating genetic disorder. Contributions in Mark’s name can be sent to the: Huntington’s Disease Society of America, Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter, 502 West Germantown Pike, Suite 405, Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462 or online at : www.hdsa.org/epch/epadon.html
All friends, family, fans, co-workers, and classmates of Mark are invited to attend and reminisce and remember Mark at a memorial service to be held June 21st at 6pm at the First Presbyterian Church of Allentown, Cedar Crest Boulevard & Tilghman Streets, Allentown, PA.
Also a musical memorial party celebrating the life of Mark Smith, leader of The Creatures of The Golden Dawn will be held July 2, starting 9pm at the Funhouse in South Side Bethlehem.
One thing Mark was always good for: Bearing gifts.
He would never leave his apartment without goods to promote the Creatures and garage music…things such as homemade flyers, business cards, buttons, bootleg screen printed t-shirts…
Upon meeting someone, he would shake their hand and make their acquaintance by giving them a hip little token. He constantly was on the path of promotion and trying to enlighten people to a different sphere of music, one you didn’t hear on the radio: Garage.
He would always keep copies of Creatures CD’s stuffed somewhere in his pockets. I know he did, because they would magically appear out of nowhere. And, he would pull these CD’s out and proffer them to unsuspecting folks in the name of garage. He was always trying to get people to see music through a different lens and to open their minds. He would often be hypercritical (“These people can’t look beyond radio and Z-95.”)
Mark vehemently despised bands like Steely Dan, Yes, Meatloaf, Styx, etc. His physical discomfort and joylessness would go from zero to 6o quickly in a public place. I distinctly remember a quip from Stahley’s. Mark and I were sitting at the bar barely tolerating the music.
He looked up and saw a man in dungaree’s walking over to the jukebox. Mark scowled, “I’ll bet he’s going over there to play Steely Dan.”
Upon hearing bad music, Mark would almost start twitching and looking from left to right to see if someone will put an end to this torture blaring through the speakers. As if to say, “Stop! Your attitudes, beliefs and your soul are all in the toilet along with your taste in music!”
He would outwardly question the sanity and I.Q. the general public. Are they retarded? What is wrong with society? Why aren’t there laws to fine such people who listen to Steely Dan? How come we’re breathing the same room air as these people?
Even if mankind is going down the toilet, we still need men and women to hold the kind of passion and drive Mark held. We are a boring, colorless, ignorant lot without people like Mark and all his little gifts. Mark gave a spark of meaning a glimmer of awe to those whom he could reach.
Lucky for me, I was one of them. He was a nugget who dug it.
Mark from his Facebook page
Mark posted on Facebook by Dave from What Wave Magazine
The “1000 Shadows” (Dionysus Records) line-up: Steven Schlack, Chris Kender, Mark Heber Smith, Tom Bazylak, Mike Smitreski