|Scruff. Photo: Alan Johnston|
Scruff, the legendary local bouncer/doorman/security minder has passed away this afternoon, aged 65. He had been battling cancer for the past year. John Dix says via FB that Scruff "was probably grateful for the quick exit."
In mid July , the NZ Herald's Alan Perrott profiled our nightclub doormen/bouncers, including Scruff, reporting that "Our most notorious bouncer has terminal cancer, a fate he's facing with a stoic matter-of-factness. Whatever time he has left is being devoted to a photographic exhibition, concert and, hopefully, leaving a little something for his five kids, so there was some trepidation when Canvas invited him to share some old war stories.
He's never been one to do anything he didn't want to but when you're looking at the life and times of the modern bouncer, his tales are important because Scruff is the original model.
The 65-year-old has been machine-gunned, acid-bombed and beaten up. He's guarded multifloor venues solo, faced off with the highest and mightiest, and was the man to take the bullet if someone pulled a gun. And he's loved every minute he can remember - he was a drug addict for much of it and an enthusiastic user for the rest.
Yes, he'd have loved it all the more if he'd been one of the musicians needing his protection, but he's happy having been part of the scene and it's safe to say we won't be seeing his like again.
He got into security work by accident, and long after his real name, Peter Ralph, had been forgotten (he was Little Scruff to his older brother's Big Scruff), and even longer since he'd lost several fingers to a circular saw..
... On one tour, working with Billy T James, Scruff found himself front and centre between stage and audience after a threat had been made to shoot the performer mid-set. His only job was to take the bullet should one be fired.
Another time, he was relaxing in the rafters above a George Thorogood concert in Palmerston North when an urgent call came over his radio. A bloke built like a block of flats had climbed on stage: "Everyone was just looking at him, then back at me, then back at him."
His doorman instincts kicked in and he walked over and started talking. It turned out the guy only wanted an autograph, and he meekly returned to the crowd once Scruff promised him one.
"All those years taught me a lot about reading people very quickly, making a decision and following through straight away. Don't be aggressive, that'll start a fight. Sometimes the easiest solution was to offer them a joint ...."
"But back then we worked hard for our money, bloody hard, but I came out of it with nothing. I drank it all. I tell you what, though. I'd love to do it again."