A Tribute to Jim Konya (1971-2015)

Written by, Brian Pattison

I was asked to write this tribute to Jim Konya (aka Jim Sadist, aka Jim Lasagna). Nothing I can write can truly do the man justice. Go to any of the Jim Konya tribute pages on Facebook and you can read story after story about experiences with Jim to get a small taste of what he was like. Here, this is my attempt to honor my friend, my musical idol and easily one of the greatest humans ever.

The world of extreme music is something most of the population will never experience or understand. The music we love can seem ugly, violent and disturbing to those unfamiliar with it. “Normal” people see our black band shirts, denim vests, leather jackets and so on and make the assumption that because of the way we dress and the music we like, that we are all evil and something to be feared…and most of the time we really don’t care. They can keep us on the outside and that keeps us tight like a family. There are times though when we wish the “normal” world did know of some of the characters within our realm, so they could see how humans should act. Jim Konya was one such character.

Musically, Jim was extreme music. Metal and punk- both sides claimed him as one of their own. Jim was in bands such as: Minch, 9 Shocks Terror, The Spawn of Satan, Schnauzer, Nunslaughter, Apartment 213, Gravewurm and many more. He was as much of a fan as he was a musician. Frequenting punk and metal shows in and around Cleveland, as well as traveling to see other shows. A number of times I would travel to Pittsburgh for a show and randomly bump into Jim. Almost always as a surprise, because even though it is the 21st century, Jim had no cell phone, no Myspace, no Facebook, no Twitter or anything else of the like. His connections to the real world were through the tried and true methods of letter writing, landline phone calls or the best of all – face to face communication. Within a community known for heavy drinking and a good amount of marijuana smoking, Jim was straight edge…he didn’t drink, smoke or do any drugs.

Jim Konya was much more than a musician. He was the most die hard fan, he was an ambassador for our scenes, he championed the bands he loved and more. You may not have seen Jim for months or longer, but when talking to him he made it seem as if no time had passed. He would remember the bands you liked, the sports teams you liked, or if someone within your family or small circle of friends was having problems. He would always remember and ask about them. Whether it was the first time that you met Jim or you had known him for years, bumping into Jim often lead to him saying “Do you have this cd?” or shirt or patch or whatever, then he would hand you something. If you already possessed what he had in his hand, he would tell you to wait a moment and would head to the merch table or his car. He’d then come back with something else. If in one conversation you mentioned that you collected fliers or posters, Jim would remember that months or even years later and surprise you at some show with a cool rare flier or poster.

When Jim had his first stroke (September 8, 2015) and in the weeks following, so many stories surfaced about Jim that were very similar. Common themes of Jim offering rides or a place to crash to people he had just met, of Jim giving away merch. You’d hear about Jim meeting someone new and liking their conversation, so he’d ask for their address then a week or so later, the person would receive a box of CD’s and other stuff from Jim at no cost. This was story after story from people all over the world who met Jim at various stages of his career. Of the stories that popped up, this in particular was the one I felt gave a feeling of what Jim was like as a musician and person. After Jim’s passing, James Bulloch (Ringworm) wrote:

“For the last 23 years, Jim Konya would sing this song, “The Promise” along with me when Ringworm played locally. I never had to look for him. Like clockwork, I’d just stick the mic out and he was there. He sang with as much, if not more, passion than I had at times. He’d also sing the lyrics inches away, directly into my face, even when we weren’t playing, just to re-enforce their meaning, I think, I dunno, ha. But, it had little to do with a song, it was more about a friendship that transcended all of that. You see, Jim never let you forget where you came from or your roots and would never blow smoke up your ass if he didn’t like something. And that’s a good thing. He would never let you forget good and bad times from the past, whilst simultaneously, making new memories in the present. For many of Jim’s friends, myself included, their friendship grew and was nurtured in or because of Cleveland’s music scene. A scene, filled with lovable losers, underdogs, undiscovered champions, lifers, freaks and more characters than the Saturday afternoon cartoons we grew up with. Jim knew that and he not only embraced it, he wore it as a badge of honor and was proud of it. And as much he relished the fact that Cleveland’s sports teams are forever underachieving, and he wholeheartedly rooted against them. He championed and carried the flag of this city’s seemingly underachieving music scene and held it second to nowhere else in the world. But as time passed, the music became more of a backdrop to the brotherhood and the friendship that sprang from it. And that will last forever. He is, and ever shall be a landmark, a cornerstone, an institution, and a face carved in stone in, not only our city’s musical landscape, but as the most loyal, most animated, honest, intelligent, polite, opinionated, creative, funniest, one of a kind, dearest friends a person could be lucky enough to have during your time on this dirt ball.

To you Jim,.. to say you left a mark, is the biggest understatement that could ever be said . Thank you for all the music you’ve made, the kind things you’ve done for so many, and for just being the person you are. But mostly, thank you for being my friend, Jim. Thanks for letting me be a patch on your metal jacket of friends, like you are on mine. It’s not right, nor fair, that you’re leaving this soon, things like this never are. You will be missed by so many. You’re our Metal Patriarch and always will be. So wherever you are, my friend, this one goes out to you. Either way, playing this song is not going to feel the same anymore. It’s not about a song or band, it’s about a friendship. But, once again, in a strange way, you were able to re-enforce, and perhaps, give it a whole new meaning for me. There are times when you have to say goodbye even though you don’t want to. So, I won’t. I prefer to say, “I’ll see you later”. Horns High.” ”

The entire extreme music community had the wind knocked out of us when we got word of Jim’s 1st stroke. We all held our breath and hoped for the best as we got word that Jim couldn’t use the right side of his body or talk. As the days went on things seemed to be turning though…with much effort Jim was able to say simple sentences and was beginning to use his right side. We all smiled a little when word spread that Jim was being transferred from the ICU to rehab. We knew he still had a long way to go and things may never be the same, but it was looking like he would overcome this and we continued to hope. Then, like a baseball bat to the face, the news surfaced on September 26, that the previous night Jim had a 2nd major stroke (this time on the right side of his brain) followed by uncontrollable seizures.  He was induced into a coma. I think at this point, deep down, we all knew what the outcome would be, but we didn’t want to believe it and held out hope that if anyone could beat this, it would be Konya. This couldn’t be real, this couldn’t be happening to someone so loved, so nice, so genuine; it wasn’t right.

Day after day, stories arose from people going to see Jim at the hospital. A benefit concert was thrown for him at “Now That’s Class” in Lakewood on October 2nd. October 3rd would be the day that docs would begin trying to awaken Jim from the induced coma. They cautioned that because of the 2 major strokes and seizures that Jim may not awaken. Still we held hope. Later on the 4th, the news came out that the docs said Jim had no hope of recovery and had no mental activity.  Again, deep down we knew the reality, but outwardly we still clung onto hope. On October 7, we lost our hearts, a one of a kind man, a legend, an icon, a role model, a friend and a hero. The world of music lost someone who deserves to be acknowledged by the world at large as an inspiration, as the kind of person we all should strive to be.


4 thoughts on “A Tribute to Jim Konya (1971-2015)

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