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Epilogue | Robert LaPierre

Robert LaPierre left rock band, wild parties to settle down

LARGO — He partied with Duane Allman. He played the drums, jamming with rock legends. His rock band opened for some of the best groups in the 1970s and 1980s.

It was a heady time, and it lasted 20 years. Then one day, Robert LaPierre realized that it was time to leave the rock 'n' roll lifestyle — especially the drugs.

So Mr. LaPierre reluctantly quit the music business. He settled down in Indian Rocks Beach, where he blended seamlessly with a small but dedicated population that lives for music and beer, for whom the beach itself is a close approximation to God.

Mr. LaPierre, 55, died Friday, in the recliner of his garage, which he had transformed into a shrine to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

His family suspects he had a heart attack.

He grew up in Anderson, Ind., the son of a firefighter and a homemaker. He got his first drum set at age 13, and began playing in bands right out of high school. In the early 1980s he met Gregg Allman in Macon, Ga., and through that connection met other musicians.

In concerts, Mr. LaPierre's band, Krossover, opened for the Allman Brothers Band, the Guess Who, Molly Hatchett, Percy Sledge, and the Atlanta Rhythm Section.

In the late 1980s, the ride came to an end. "He just woke up and said, 'I'm gonna die if I don't leave,' " said Della LaPierre, Mr. LaPierre's wife.

Her husband moved to Indian Rocks Beach and tended bar for a while. He entertained customers with his easygoing attitude and his dead-perfect air drumming to the jukebox.

"He'd say, 'Listen to this, you can hear these little chimes in the background!' " said Dale Marion, 58, who owned the 14th Avenue Cafe and hired Mr. LaPierre.

The two men became friends. Mr. LaPierre moved on to Jabil Circuit, eventually working as a trainer. He remained there for 15 years, until the company eliminated his job in December.

In 2001, Mr. LaPierre married Della on the beach, at sunset. The next year they bought a home on Sunset Circle in Largo.

The garage had its own refrigerator (always stocked with Bud Light), a half-bath with a Bucs shower curtain, two flat-screen televisions, plenty of ash trays, and a recliner.

"I've been to a lot of games with him," Marion said. "It was more fun to go to the garage. You see more of the game, the bathrooms are closer, and beer is cheaper."

For parties, Mr. LaPierre traded in his Buccaneers cap for a jester hat.

"He would say, 'Chill, mama!' if someone was getting anxious or angry," Mrs. LaPierre recalled.

Perhaps alerted by a heart attack in 2004, Mr. LaPierre left explicit funeral instructions: A song by Pink Floyd, Comfortably Numb, will play.

It should be a party, he said.

Andrew Meacham can be reached at (727) 892-2248 or ameacham@sptimes.com.

.Biography

Robert LaPierre Jr.

Born: Oct. 18, 1953.

Died: March 20, 2009.

Survivors: wife, Della; sons, Nicholas and Jonathan and his wife, Mindy; daughters, Lela Buck, Jamie Schultz and her husband, Todd, and Leona Wabnitz and her husband, Aaron; mother, Martha LaPierre; sisters, Sheree Burkett and her husband, Michael, and Tawnie McGaha and her husband, Terry; and 11 grandchildren.

Service: 2:30 p.m. Saturday; Moss-Feaster Funeral Home, Largo.

Robert LaPierre left rock band, wild parties to settle down 03/24/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 24, 2009 9:49pm]
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