Author photo

By Jon Hammond
contributing writer 

Remembering Big Bob Parker

Mountain Tales: First-hand stories of life in Tehachapi

 

March 30, 2024



Courtesy of the Parker and Bouldin families.

Bob Parker was a gifted rock n' roll guitar player.

Bob Parker, 56, was a big-hearted Tehachapi rock and roller who passed away on March 20, 2012 following several months of illness. Bob died from complications of hepatitis he contracted from a tainted blood transfusion while hospitalized in 1985.

Bob was a gifted lead guitar player who loved playing rock n'roll music with his friends and entertaining appreciative audiences. He graduated from Tehachapi High in 1974 and played in many different local bands, including Crystal Rock, Contagious Rage, The Force, and others.

Bob was one of the Tehachapi babies who was actually born in Mojave, because there was a hospital there for a time after the 1952 earthquake damaged Tehachapi Hospital and it had to be rebuilt. He was born on February 1, 1956, the son of Donald Parker and Sally Conway. His siblings were Don, Diana, Joyce and Susan.

It would be nice to write that Bob had an idyllic Tehachapi childhood, surrounded by love in a nurturing environment, but that wasn't the case. He grew up in a family with substance abuse and he spent time in foster homes.

His maternal grandparents, George and Martha McNeal, lived on my family's farm on Cherry Lane, and he often stayed with them, so I knew him from the time I was only five or six. Bob was about 10 years old than me, but even during the rebellious teenage years he was always nice to me and respectful to his elders. He called my uncle, Henry Hand, "Uncle Henry" like we did and my uncle was always fond of him. Bob had gracious manners and was a Boy Scout who made it through every rank.

Despite his challenges growing up, Bob had a great mind and was mechanically gifted, being able to fix almost anything he attempted to repair. With music as with most of his skills, he was largely self-taught. He loved the guitar and while playing he was immersed in the music. On stage he resembled Jim Morrison, but bigger and more physical. He could make an electric guitar scream and wail or play softly and melodically.

One of the last bands Bob played in was Contagious Rage, with Rob Freeze, Michael Moore, Jason Lee and Kathy Bouldin. Rock n' roll musicians sometimes seem to have a shortened lifespan, and with Bob's passing, only Kath Bouldin survives from that band – though none of its members had even reached 60 yet.

Big Bob Parker was far from perfect, and he had his share of troubles with wild living and wild women. But through it all, he remained a loyal friend who helped countless people in need. With an amazing memory and charming sense of humor, he was fun to be around and he is still missed by hundreds of people.

Courtesy of the Parker and Bouldin families.

Bob (left) on stage at the Philip Marx Central Park gazebo with bandmates Dave Bouldin and Ruben Flores.

With his first wife, Lenore McCain Parker who he married in 1980, Bob had his children Olivia, Crystal, Dina and Guy. With his wife Sue Parker, who survived him, he had stepchildren Pasquale and Joey Angelone. "We married on June 27, 2004, and he was the love of my life," a heartbroken Sue told me. "He was an incredible person and I'm so blessed to have had him in my life." At the time of his death, Bob had been employed by Cummins Diesel as a truck driver and mechanic. It's been more than a decade since Tehachapi's Big Bob Parker passed away, but he is still remembered with love and affection.

 
 

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