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By Dennis O'Brien
 

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Rich Flores - PGA Pro, Teacher & Friend

 

 

Words are always difficult following the loss of a close friend. But when a music-making duo � known locally as �Avalanche� � recently lost musician Charlie Prazma to a sudden heart attack, the other half of Avalanche, Dennis O�Brien, lost more than a friend; �close� in this case included thirty-plus years of sharing a stage and making audiences smile as they watched the pair perform on untold occasions and at numerous venues around the Fox Valley and beyond, underscoring the love for singing and playing guitar the two great talents shared. And a whole lot more� Dennis graciously agreed to allow us to share with you the eulogy he presented at Charlie�s funeral. I think it describes well the reasons why Charlie�s presence � and his music � will be sorely missed.     Richard Ross

Thank you so much...to my friends and family for the continuous outpouring of love and support for me as it relates to the passing of my wonderful friend Charlie Prazma. Please indulge me while I share with you our relationship.

Charlie was my musical partner for over 30 years. We met in 1980 while performing the musical �Hair��.I was in the cast and he was in the band. We soon learned that we were both out performing in some of the same clubs...And a few weeks later, I decided to go out and hear Charlie�. While there, he invited me to sit in with him. He asked me if I knew any of the Loggins and Messina songs�..I told him I did, and after a quick discussion of who was going to sing what parts, we proceeded to play what has since become known (in our circles) as the Loggins and Messina medley. After we finished, Charlie looked at me and said, �We have got to start singing together�. And that is when the magic began�.

Over the years, we performed songs written by other artists while creating our own meaningful arrangements that apparently (and sometimes profoundly) moved the people that came out to hear us. All I can say is that when we played together, it was simply magical. It was natural...and easy and It was a very successful relationship on many levels.

It was such a blast to play with Charlie�We were extremely relaxed performing together on stage and could play 40-50 songs a night without referencing a set list�.we simply would look at one another and often times know exactly what song to play next�..and then just smile at one another�  Our banter between songs became endearing to the audience. We had so much fun together...and loved to make fun of ourselves. When we began to lose our hair, the appropriate joke was that we were putting a new tribute band together�.and we were going to be named �The Bald Eagles�.  We recently seriously considered changing the name of our band from �Avalanche� (which we never really liked) to �Assisted Living�. We thought that was hysterical!

In recent years we had the opportunity to work with some of the very artists that we grew up idolizing. While working with the band �America�, we had the pleasure of spending about a half hour back stage with them and Charlie (of course) had Dewey Bunnell and Gerry Beckley in stitches laughing at Charlie's jokes. When we worked recently with Kenny Loggins, Charlie again was able to have a meaningful discussion not only with Kenny�s band, but was able to banter back and forth with Kenny as well. Apparently it was so hot on stage during our warm up that Kenny asked Charlie if he should wear a vest over his long sleeved shirt. Charlie replied, �Kenny�.if I were you I would wear some sandals, shorts, and a just a Dago-T on top��Kenny thought that was hilarious.

Charlie had the ability to engage in conversation with anyone, anywhere at anytime. He had an uncanny knack to be able to draw people into a meaningful discussion; leaving them with the thought of his wonderful sense of humor and intelligence. And always at some point he would throw in a joke�.or two�.or three�.that would literally have everyone roaring with laughter. He was the best joke teller I have EVER heard!

Charlie taught me many things over the years. Musically, he taught me how to appreciate what was not being played; that the space between the notes was as powerful a force as the music itself. He also taught me that breaking a song down to its simplest form was the ultimate way to create an impact, and the respect gained from a meaningful arrangement far out-weighed the applause�.always.

What I took from Charlie that was most profound, was his simplicity, the same simplicity he strived for in every area of his life. I will miss him...our conversations regarding family and how proud he was of his children Michael and Lisa and his wife Carol. I will miss his music and his humor that made me �belly laugh�.

Charlie�s reflection on life was pure and natural. He was so many things to me: He was my partner, he was my teacher, he was my brother (like I need another brother), and he was my best friend�



Charlie and I knew that this awesome journey we had been on together for the past 30 years was reaching it�s end�.but we also realized that we had just...hit...our sweet spot. We figured that we probably had played over 450 gigs together in just the last three years...and we had never sounded better. NEVER!... I know we had a few good years left in us and selfishly speaking, I was not ready for this magic to end.

The sense of loss is enormous when someone who has been such a huge part of your life for such a long of time is no longer by your side. My hope for all of us is to find comfort in knowing that we have a new guardian angel...and by remembering the fine things that we shared with Charlie.

When I grow up�..I want to be just�..like�..Charlie.

Thanks for the great ride everyone�.You were a huge part of our joy together.

Dennis


 

 

 

 

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