For many years, if you were to peruse Oklahoma Gazette’s event listings, chances are you’d see mention of at least one show that week in which Basile Kolliopoulos would be playing guitar, at now-closed metro venues like The Samurai, The Bowery and Liberty Drug.
Whether it be with The Reverb Brothers, The Fortune Tellers or The Fensics, whether solo or a one-off special guest spot, the Greece-born Kolliopoulos was a true Oklahoma City music mainstay.
Kolliopoulos passed away on Jan. 28 after a brief battle with liver cancer, leaving a sizable hole in the soul of the local music scene. He was 59.
Still, his rock ’n’ roll legacy burns brightly and will be celebrated with the Basile Benefit Bash, a two-night event slated for Friday and Saturday at VZD’s.
“Basile’s role in the Oklahoma music scene was huge,” said Marty Dillon, who played drums with Kolliopoulos for more than 12 years in The Reverb Brothers and The Fortune Tellers. “Since the late ’70s, he’s been playing here. The tribute should be a real nice turnout, because so many people will want to celebrate Basile’s life. It’ll be a fun, celebratory event.”
Friday’s lineup includes Kolliopoulos’ younger brother, Miho, playing with The True Believers, reunited with their leader, Alejandro Escovedo, the popular Austin, Texas-based musician and a longtime friend. On Saturday, the remaining members of The Reverb Brothers and The Fortune Tellers will perform, and DJ Jon Mooneyham will spin cuts from both Kolliopoulos’ career and extensive personal collection.
Friends with benefits
Proceeds from the shows — as well as the exclusive
merchandise to be sold both nights, ranging from CD re-releases to
T-shirts — will help Kolliopoulos’ family pay their outstanding medical
“Hopefully, this will help ease their burden a bit,” said Dillon.
bills total close to $10,000.
“We did have insurance. But since he got
sick at the end of last year, we basically have two separate years as
far as insurance considers it,” said Kolliopoulos’ widow, Heather. “To
this day, I’m still getting bills. We still haven’t received all of
For Dillon, now vice president of Party Galaxy, the benefit show is much more personal than just raising money. It’s also his last chance to
honor his friend and collaborator publicly, in the way that he would
have loved: playing music with his friends in OKC.
“I miss him. We all
miss him,” Dillon said. “You can’t really replace him. He had such a
unique style and sound to him, you just can’t pop somebody else in
there. There was so much soul and energy in him. There won’t ever be
another one like him.”
sentiment was echoed by Heather Kolliopoulos, who called her husband a
“true original” in the local music scene, for both audiences and fellow
being an artist and a musician, and he loved performing, and I think
people recognized that and appreciated that,” she said. “He was a big
inspiration to a lot of people. I don’t think he realized what an
influence he was and how much people loved him. It makes me feel really
good to know that he was loved by this many people.”