You may have seen the stories last week about the strange case of Eric de Boer, who died at age 57 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Mr. de Boer had explained to his family and friends that he was retired from the rock band Kansas, for whom he had played guitar under the stage name "Rich Williams." There was only one problem: Kansas still tours with two of its original members, drummer Phil Ehart and guitarist Rich Williams, who lives in Atlanta. Note I said "lives."
It turned out that de Boer had been claiming to be Rich Williams for a long time, long enough that the real Williams had actually become aware of him about five years ago. It didn't take long for the news of the death of "Williams" to reach the real Rich Williams. To his credit, Williams took the whole thing in stride when a newspaper reporter tracked him down, and when it was explained to him that de Boer was a former marine who had been a POW in Vietnam, Williams said he saluted his service.
Except that was another lie. De Boer had only served in the Coast Guard, and was never even in Vietnam, as several Vietnam veterans were quick to point out. If you're a non-veteran who claims to have been a POW, these guys will be all over you like Kiss Army members on an autographed copy of Destroyer. In the end, de Boer was just a loser. His ex-wife (or, given the nature of this tale, someone purporting to be his ex-wife) posted to a newsgroup I read with the following:
We married in 1976 had two beautiful children but, unfortunately our
marriage was based on lies. I don't think he new how to tell the
truth. It didn't matter what he said I just didn't believe anything he
told me anymore.
He walked out on us when my children were 7 & 11. That was that. I
have been looking for him for over 20 years. I knew he went to
Chicago then Tennessee then South Carolina then to find out that he
lived an hour away from us for 5 years and never got in touch with his
children makes me sick.
He was in the Coast Guard but, I think he was dishonorable discharged.
I heard all the stories the POW the rock band although it wasn't
Kansas at that time.
The big question here is: Rich Williams? Huh? If you remember Kansas from the 1970s, Williams was the guitarist whose trademark was that he wore a tuxedo, which was a lame trademark even for 1970s arena rock. In the videos I saw, he would stand silently on the drum riser with his puffy shirt and bowtie, looking as if he had just gotten stood up for the prom, so he decided to sit in with Kansas instead. Why would anyone want to imitate that guy?
On the other hand, Williams was easy to imitate, since he had lost an eye as a teenager. Although he wore a glass eye in Kansas' heyday, he had since taken to wearing an eyepatch onstage. But, for some reason de Boer didn't even bother with the patch. Or the tuxedo, near as I can tell. Loser.
Was it you that said how long? Right now: