On the early evening of Nov 13th 2004, Jhonn and I were at home. Jhonn had been in the oblivion of vodka for a couple of weeks although that day he had eaten some soup and had a bath and was not quite as insensible as he had been. I was watching TV (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes) when I heard a noise in the hall. Jhonn was lying face down on the wooden floor breathing noisily. He was deeply unconscious. Apparently he had tippped over the banisters and fallen some 12ft to the floor below onto his head. I called the ambulance and they were at the house in 7 minutes.
Jhonn was rushed to hospital, but despite the best efforts of the doctors in A&E, he did not regain consciousness. His condition deteriorated over the next few hours, and at 9.20 pm he was pronounced dead.
Although we all certainly knew that something like this might happen if Jhonn continued to use alcohol in the way that he did – and much of the work of Coil, Jhonn’s Life’s Work in fact, described or addressed that Very Moment, nevertheless it came as a great shock to all of us.
In the days that followed, Ian – Jhonn’s partner for the last year or so – and I struggled to keep ourselves together and to begin to organize both public and private arrangements. The response to the news on the website was overwhelming and very touching, and brought immense Solace in a time of need.
Friends of Coil over the years, particularly Ossian Brown, Bill Breeze, David Michael, Geoff Cox and Marilyn, our housekeeper, were also incredibly supportive, and they were among the 100 or so guests at the Funeral Celebration, which was held on November 23rd at Memorial Woodlands near Bristol.
We all continue to have bad days from time to time, but slowly as the numbness begins to recede, the possibility of enjoying new sights, smells, flavors, the possibility of new life, returns.
I still find it hard to say the words “Geff’s dead” or “when Geff died” out loud, and the process of mixing and editing Jhonn’s last Work “The Ape of Naples” has been almost unbearably emotional, to say the least.
The last Coil performance was at the Dublin City Hall on October 23rd, exactly three weeks before he died. Watching the video (which will be the last in the DVD Boxset) is extraordinary in the light of subsequent events – Everything Jhonn said and did that day seems to refer or resonate with what happened, though I remain certain that he was as consciously unaware of forthcoming events as the rest of us.
The last song of that show “Going Up” is a reworking of the theme to the 70s TV show “Are You Being Served?” but through the eyes of Coil and Jhonn Balance it clearly is just about “Going Up” himself – Over and over he sings “Are you ready to go now?” and in the end, his Last Live Words:
“…It Just Is.”
11th March 05ev – the Last Days of the North Tower.
In the weeks that followed Jhonn’s death we became aware of more and more Notices and Obituaries. Here are links to some of them, in no particular order:
If you know of other Obituaries of note, please let us know or send them in.
At the request of David and Andria Tibet, the Bardo Zhi-Tro ritual (Tibetan Book of the Dead) was performed in Kathmandu, Nepal by our old and dear friend Gelong Tenzin Jamchen. A divination has been performed for Jhonn’s essence by his Lama, Trulshik Rinpoche, and various mantras and pujas, as specified by Rinpoche to aid his journey, will be performed for a period up to 49 days after Balance’s ‘death’.
Furthermore 4000 prayers to Guru Rinpoche (Clearing Obstacles on the Path and Spontaneous Fulfillment of all Wishes), 4000 recitations of the White Umbrella Deity (Obstacle Removing Practice) as well as the 12,000 21 fold homage to Tara were recited on Jhonn’s behalf. The prophecies of Guru Rinpoche were also read as a Puja around the 49th day.