Monday 10 April 2023

In Memoriam: Andy Sparacino

Once again, we're sad to share the passing of another great light in the Calgary scene. Andy Sparacino passed away in Nanaimo, BC on April 5, 2023 at the age of 49. Andy was a beloved musician, rapper, and actor known for his work with the A-Team, Helvis, Blist, and FUBAR. He's being remember by his former bandmates and many friends for his incredible sense of humour and gentleness.

For most of us Calgarians, we knew Andy first in the magical (and somewhat chaotic) A-Team, a big part of the Rock Central scene (the cover of their Non Merci CD features a photo from one of their legendary Stampede breakfasts). That band was my first glimpse into Andy's brilliance, a hilariously smart delivery of low-brow matter covering drinking beer to pooping. His rhyming was always on point, cramming as many syllables into a phrase as he could. Andy's crowning achievement with the A-Team was the catchy-as-hell singalong, "I'm A Truck."

2002's FUBAR catapulted Andy into the national spotlight. In Troy/Tron, he brought his wit to the big screen - reportedly ad lib-ing many jaw-droppingly hilarious scenes in one take. That first FUBAR movie would have been a very different thing without Tron and Andy's participation, and "Tron funkin blows" remains one of the film's biggest catchphrases. 

I got to know Andy over a weird weekend in 2004, when Cory Martens asked me to help record Helvis' XXXmas EP. While I was turning into a ball of stress about the recording process, Andy was there with a relaxed manner and a stream of jokes and funny quips that helped immensely. When it was time for King Sausage (Andy's Helvis stage name) to step to the mic for his vocal takes, everything went down with minimum number of takes. And his lyrics were pretty darn funny.

After that, I'd run into Andy at shows with Blist, his more directly hip-hop oriented act with Robey Stothart (aka Sabo Forte). Blist brought a higher production value to Andy's raps and Stothart provided a great foil to his delivery. But the matter was still decidedly low-brow; "The Big Testemony" remains one my favourites of Andy's songs, with unlikely rhymes like "got no slacks on/loud as a klaxon" and "I can't do pilates/'cuz I got the big testes" powering a stream-of-consciousness-like story line. 

The last time I saw Andy was on stage for Helvis' reunion show in 2015. In the spring of 2021, friends and former bandmates Dan McKinnon and Dave Lawrence announced a fundraiser for Andy, acknowledging that Andy had been dealing with an addiction to IV drugs that had led to him experiencing homelessness and a life-threatening blood infection. The fundraiser was a huge success, with his friends immediately coming to his support - and allowing Andy to enter to rehab program in Nanaimo. 

The outpouring of love and grief for Andy over the past weekend has highlighted two things - he wasn't just hilariously funny, he was also kind and gentle. For every amazingly off-the-wall story about his antics, there's a story about his generosity. Terry Cahill's memorial post probably summed up Andy best with three words: "More than Tron."

My thoughts are with Andy's father, his bandmates, and everyone who had the joy of knowing him. 

This has been a rough few months - if you're struggling, please know that there is help out there. Please reach out to a friend or some of the resources available in the community. And take care of each other.

Arif Ansari


Anonymous said...

I remember that hectic Helvis XXXMas recording session well. In true Andy style he brought the mirth and it was so contagious. I miss him for that and so much more.

J. Watson said...

I worked with Andy at Brewsters downtown late 2001 early 2002 I recall the staff Christmas party, he told me about driving straight through to Sundance (I think) introducing the movie (Fubar), answering questions after then driving straight back. He was a genuinely nice guy, I'm sorry to hear of his passing.

Anonymous said...

Omg I am so sad to hear this I was in contact with him but all contact stopped about a year ago and I came across this article today, what a nice guy so unfortunate I’m so sad :(((((