Earlier this year, on May 24, drummer Mark ‘Bam Bam’ McConnell passed away after suffering kidney and liver failure followed by brain damage from an undisclosed ailment. McConnell served as Sebastian Bach’s touring drummer from 1997-2005 and also toured with southern rock outfit Blackfoot.

While McConnell fought for his life in a Gainesville, Fla. hospital, Bach reached out to fans asking them to say a prayer for his friend and now, on what would have been McConnell’s 51st birthday, Bach has posted a lengthy letter directed personally to his lost drummer who he refers to as a friend and brother. The letter goes into detail talking about the good times they had together, the love and  passion McConnell had for his son, and how much he taught Bach about the business and  life in general.

Read the letter in full below, but be forewarned, this one is not for the weak of heart and strikes a tender chord -- so have the Kleenex handy.

Happy Birthday, Mark "Bam Bam" McConnell.

Sure do wish you were around to read this. For so many years on this planet, you were my best buddy & musical partner. For so many years, you looked out for me. Like a brother. A best friend.

For so many years, we created music together. We paid our dues together. When times were hard, when we had nothing to eat, we made Dorito Sandwiches at the truckstop together. We made our music because it was our dream come true. For us, it was actually fun to split on $1.25 for a loaf of white bread & one pack of Cheese Doritos. We made a feast of it. After driving all night in a van packed with 6 people, & all of our gear, eating a Dorito Sandwich can only be described as pure Heaven.

Wow, your van. How many miles did we log in your green van, dude? With the brown leather couches in the back. How many times did we drive across the country, from Detroit to Phoenix to Florida to New York to Baltimore to Toronto to New Jersey? I saw this country for the first time with you, man. I saw so much with you. We lived, laughed, loved, fought & rocked together. We lived hard & we played hard. We rocked the only way we knew how. Hard.

Writing this is hard too. I cannot believe you are gone. We had so much fun. Some might say, too much fun. But we never knew, or could fathom, that we weren't supposed to be having as much fun as possible.

The stage was our home, where we felt the most alive. You were my backbone every night. You taught me so much about playing in concert. About giving %100. You taught me to leave it all on the stage. All the energy, sweat, passion you had, you put it up on the boards. It was so much fun playing with you because I knew we would always blow 'em all away. Your playing & expertise behind the kit was amazing to behold & to make music with you was like driving a Ferrari. You were fast, precise, & showed everyone how to play the drums every time you sat behind the kit.

At no time did your face light up more than when you talked about your Son. You would get the biggest smile on your face when you described to everyone how proud you were of your boy. You would brag about him to everyone who would listen, like it helped you when we had to spend months away from our loved ones doing what we were put here to do. You would always talk about plans, dreams you had, about spending time with him someday. He was your pride & joy & I'll never forget how excited you were when he came to our show in New York City.

You were so strong. You seemed invincible to me. It really is a wake-up call to no longer have you here. Life is so precious. Everything, & anything, can & will change at any moment & there is nothing we can do to change that. All we can do is try & realize how lucky we are to be alive. Having you gone makes me appreciate how fortunate we all are to even be here. I wish you still were!

Just before you left us, you posted on my FaceBook Page. What you wrote to me is still there. Days before you were gone, you left words of encouragement to myself & others. Some sage words of advice. Like a best buddy. A musical partner. You were still looking out for me. Like a brother.

I guess you always were, & always will be... a best friend.

Happy Birthday Mark! We all love you & miss you.

Your Buddy Forever

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