In Memoriam: Tommy Freidenfelt
August 1, 1964 – October 30, 2013
SACRAMENTO, CALIF., NOV. 6–Tommy Freidenfelt, known to the world as the lead guitarist of the famous biker band, The Fryed Brothers, passed away when his great big generous heart just stopped beating late one night in October. He’d been plagued with health issues for several years and even though he had a pacemaker to regulate his arrhythmia, Tommy was tired. He left us to go hang out with his father and two older brothers, Mark and Kim, who passed on several years ago. As the youngest of seven Freidenfelt children and the father of five of his own kids, his loving family was understandably devastated by his passing, but even in their grief, the Fryeds pulled themselves together and held a celebration of life that will go down in the annals of biker history as one of the most rocking parties of all times.
Christian Motorcyclists Association’s Chaplain Dave officiated the proceedings and figured out early on that this would not be a typical wake. Tommy was well known as a pretty funny guy who was constantly telling jokes, so when buddy Steve “Beatnik” Werner took over the podium to share various Tommy stories, he opened with a raunchy joke that set the tone for the rest of the day, and then with a rousing, “At the count of three, everybody yell ‘Tommy!’” Beatnik led the estimated 1,200 mourners who lined the walls of the building and spilled out onto the lawn out front in a lively send off.
A slideshow of photographs arranged by Tommy’s kids and set to Fryed’s original tunes played before a video of outtakes by filmmaker Daron Ker, who produced the movie I Ride based on Tommy and his brother Harry’s lives, was screened. Attendees were warned that the entire ceremony would need to move quickly because parents would be arriving to pick their children up from school (the service was held at a local community center) and the family didn’t want to freak out unsuspecting parents who would pull into a parking lot full of bikers. By the time the kiddies were scheduled to be picked up, riders had saddled up and hauled ass for a pack ride to the Marines MC clubhouse across town where the party kicked into another level of remembering and celebrating. Along the way, Hellbent MC helped with traffic as riders navigated the city streets.
Once at the clubhouse, mourners were welcomed to dive into the huge potluck buffet offerings as family and friends worked to keep everyone fed. The full bar was jam packed and a thick line of folks wanting to purchase Fryed memorabilia, including memorial T-shirts that were printed with a smiling image of Tommy across the front, formed outside the Fryed booth. An all-day jam shook the clubhouse as bands like the Chubbs Brothers, Rogue and Savannah Blue rocked the place and Harry took to the stage with his bow in hand. Everyone knew it was part of the healing process. Appreciative attendees danced their asses off while the slide show splashed on the wall as Tommy was eulogized in song and pictures.
Late in the day Shawn Hess, president of the Marines MC, gathered Tommy’s family together to present his obviously moved mother, Gerry, with a plaque honoring her beloved youngest son. The stage at the clubhouse has been dedicated to Tommy and a commemorative plaque honoring him was mounted near the stairs.
This was a day of respect and love and nothing spoiled it, not even the largely ignored law enforcement helicopter that flew overhead or the K-9 unit that cruised the parking lot as every three-piece patched club imaginable milled around the property. The entire riding community came together in a huge outpouring of love and support for the Fryed family and the day of brotherhood came off without a hitch. The glowing moon was high in the early morning sky by the time the last stragglers wandered off into the darkness and we said our final goodbyes to our lost, and very loved, brother. Ride, Tommy, ride.