Richard Pierce Jr., guitarist for the Fort Lauderdale-based Southern rock band Rambler, was what another generation might have called a “with-it” dad.
In the early 1990s, Pierce was guitarist for South Florida rock bands The Reign and Mind Mural on stages like Churchill’s Pub in Little Haiti, and former Broward clubs Squeeze and the Reunion Room. His friend Brian Warner, another aspiring Broward rocker, would soon find national fame under his alias Marilyn Manson.
Pierce brought his son Robert to band rehearsals and the boy, then 4, became friendly with the guys in the then-named Marilyn Manson & the Spooky Kids.
Manson called Robert “Little Man.” At 6, his vocals featured on Marilyn Manson’s major label track “My Monkey” and he was seen in the “Lunchbox” video.
Dad was cool with his rock kid. The two started writing songs together. Pierce gave him a website at age 11 in 1999 to promote his music.
To those shocked by the rocking father-son pair, dad had an answer. “The bottom line is, he always wanted to be an entertainer,” Richard Pierce told the Miami Herald in 2000.
Thursday, Robert Pierce lost his father.
Richard Pierce, 57, was shot several times in the 400 block of North Andrews Avenue at 2:45 a.m. He died at Broward Health Medical Center. Stevens Jean, 29, also of Fort Lauderdale, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.
Pierce’s friend and fellow guitarist in Rambler, Sam Jochananov, said Pierce, who also did electrical, irrigation and other handyman work outside of the band, was driving for Uber when he was killed. Fort Lauderdale police are investigating.
Today, the younger Pierce lives in Texas and works in construction. But his father had kept the music going with the next generation — his 3-year-old grandson Abel. “He liked to video call with my son and play with him over the phone,” Robert Pierce, 29, said. “He was amazing. How many people he knew. And how well involved he was with music and the whole industry. It was inspiring to see how he was able to fulfill dreams.”
Glenn Richards, then a DJ with former rock station WSHE, remembers the father-son-Manson team. “He struck me as a very passionate music fan and devoted dad. The South Florida music scene needs all the positive people it can get and he was definitely one of the good guys.”
Pierce, born Aug. 28, 1959, in Connecticut, played in numerous South Florida bands, including Shattered Glass Playground. But he found an upswing in recent years with Rambler.
The group opened for established Southern rock bands like Molly Hatchet and Blackfoot in Sanford, Florida, and, in 2006, Lynyrd Skynyrd at SunFest in West Palm Beach. Pierce was a cowriter on Rambler’s albums, “First Things First” in 2004, and the current “This Town Ain’t Pretty.” The independently released albums have sold about 60,000 copies, Jochananov said.
Rambler also performed at charity shows like Toys in the Sun Run at Markham Park in Sunrise during holiday seasons.
“He definitely had a style of his own,” said Jochananov. “We had a band with three guitar players and you have to fit into all of that and find a spot for yourself.”
Jochananov said Rambler plans a benefit show in Pierce’s honor with details coming soon.
“Rich was a good man,” said Chrystal Hartigan, his former mother-in-law and co-founder of the Songwriters in the Round music series. “He loved his children and grandchildren very much and he was one helluva guitar player. Music was his life and he was blessed with performing with Rambler and touring the country. He had fans all over the world and will be missed by so many.”
Pierce’s survivors also include his son Joshua, grandson Jackson, parents Richard Sr. and Janice Pierce, and siblings Edward, Denise and Cindy. Services are in the planning stages. A GoFundMe page has been created to help with funeral expenses.