R.I.P. Lovable Curmudgeon Tad Gaither

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Posted September 10, 2009 by Anthony Mariani in Blotch

Former proprietor of both Black Dog Taverns, Gaither passed away recently of unknown causes. Folks who knew him will remember a little guy, no bigger than about 5’-7’’ and a buck-fifty, with a non-offensive, successful, salt-and-pepper combover, some form of salt-and-pepper hair on his face, and a twinkle in his eye that let you know that, while he may not look like much, he could be as sharp and witty as any heady Harper’s columnist. He was always a breath of smoky air. Never stayed out later than about 8 o’clock. Always had to go home and “roll a fatty with the dogs.

A graduate of Bowdoin College who served his country in Korea and lived for about 20 years in the Big Apple, Gaither — a lifelong bibliophile (who turned me and who knows how many other people on to German author Gunter Grass) — spent many years in Fort Worth working for Harcourt-Brace, an international publishing company with offices in Fort Worth. Gaither opened the original Black Dog, on Throckmorton Street in the basement space currently occupied by Paddy Reds, well over a decade ago, inspired by the groovy clubs of Greenwich Village (circa the 1970s). The Black Dog’s busiest nights were probably Sundays, when jazzbos from all over North Texas –– and some national jazzbos just passing through –– would gather and play until close, attracting what probably remains the most diverse crowd ever seen in a Fort Worth club. Black, white, rich, poor, artistic, athletic, you name it –– everyone went to the Sunday night jazz jams. But neither Black Dog stage –– neither the original nor the second one, in the West 7th Street corridor –– was limited to jazz. Fusion, funk, and rock outfits such as Pablo and the Hemphill 7, Confusatron, and Bertha Coolidge also regularly played the Dog. Bertha, in fact, only played the Dog.

Though his business acumen is still up for debate — the sudden closure of Black Dog II was news to his employees — Gaither was a helluva guy and will be sorely missed by a lot of folks. A memorial get-together for Tad’s family and friends will be held on Sunday at 3 p.m., according to The Stash Dauber, at Lola’s Saloon-Sixth (2736 W 6th St, in the West 7th corridor, 817-877-0666). Date and time subject to change. Stay tuned for more info.

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6 Comments


  1.  
    DogLover

    Outstanding obit, Mariani. Nicely done, but sad to hear.




  2.  

    I had the pleasure of working with Tad at Harcourt in the early 90s, and having him as a neighbor for the past few years. While he was never flashy, he was always brilliant. Funny & philosophical, he brought a lot of happiness as an editor, proprietor, neighbor & friend. He will be missed by all.




  3.  
    Lynne Bush

    I also worked with Tad at Harcourt on my 15 month stint in Fort Worth in the 1990s. Tad and I hit it off, similar senses of humor and irony, I think, and we spent many a friday night playing darts, drinking $1 schooners of beer, eating barbeque, and bowling at the all-night bowling alley with other Harcourt folks. I will miss him. He made my time in Texas more interesting, for sure.




  4.  

    Thank you, Mariani.

    Good words, man… about a man of good words (including a few choice four-lettered ones).




  5.  
    Michele Tomiak

    I worked with Tad back in the day when it was Holt, Rinehart & Winston. We survived a few iterations and ended up as Harcourt, and throughout all the years of corporate nonsense, he never lost his love of books and that twinkle in his eye. I’ll miss that twinkle. What a guy–and what a loss.




  6.  
    Charles Haynes

    I ran into Tad in the army at Ft. Monmouth, New Jersey prior to his assignment to Korea. He and I hit it off because we both liked to read and wander. Went into the city a couple of times. He was really good company.

    Walking along one day I found a $5 bill stuck in a chain-link fence and Tad tried to convince me for 5 blocks that we ought to share that $5 because he was with me when I found it. I bought dinner. So sorry he’s gone. Play on.





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