Long before he joined the chancel choir at First Presbyterian Church in Albany as a fellow bass, I would see Jim Rocco at the choir parties a couple of times a year with his wife Deb, our soprano soloist and section leader.
Inevitably, he and I would gravitate towards each other, no small task in a crowded space, and talk music. No, not the sacred music we tended to sing together every week.
Instead, we would talk about rock and roll, specifically the music of the 1960s. He would impress me with his arcane knowledge of obscure bands and records. Occasionally, I could surprise him with some bit of trivia that I knew.
We talked about the Beatles, a LOT. I attended one of those events at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady where Scott Freiman explained the background of many of the songs on the white album. He had gone to a similar Deconstructing the Beatles session for an earlier LP, probably Sgt. Pepper or Revolver.
He loved playing the drums, and had for a very long time, as this 2010 article about the reunion of his high school band, the Chord-A-Roys, will attest.
Jim had participated in several church productions, especially those involving the kids. One of the last times I saw him was in the fall of 2013 when he was on the drums, naturally, for a production at the Steamer No. 10 theater. He was feeling unwell, as though he had broken some ribs, but was still doing the gig because he loved playing.
When we talked, he had not yet been diagnosed with cancer, which involved various treatments over several months that seemed to be working for a time. I’ve missed not seeing him in 2014, as much of his treatment took place in Arizona.
Jim Rocco passed away on Friday, January 2, 2015. Those of us who knew him feel a tremendous sadness at losing him. He was a great guy.
The Times Union obit.