In June of 1980 I had just turned 20 years old and the next day moved to Los Angeles from New York, I found myself in the Zappa’s studio surrounded by these musical giants I had studied for some years. It all felt surreal. Every member of the crew seemed godlike. But there was one crew guy I met that seemed to stand out. He had a thick Austrian accent, quirky, funny mannerisms, seemed to know his shit bullet proof, and was favored by Frank. His name was Thomas Nordegg, the Austrian tech that supported Frank’s backline. He was kind, funny, and tolerant of my naiveté. He was always doing something that made Frank, and all of us laugh and his dedication to Frank and his work was supreme. Through the 3 years I spent touring with Frank, Thomas was always there. He was also documenting virtually every day on those Frank tours with whatever the most up to date piece of technology was available. Through the next 10 years or so I would see Thomas from time to time until one day the stars aligned, and he was available to tech for me on one of my early tours. That was perhaps 25 years ago and he’s been with me since.
I’ve had the privilege of working with some pretty outstanding guitar techs, but when Thomas hit my scene, there was a paradigm shift in the infrastructure of my technology accessibility. Thomas was, and still is, fiercely interested in new technology. His apartment is a marvel in and of itself. Even in the 80’s he had a system that would turn various things on and off just by clapping. Through the years he has built, and continues to add onto, what I would call the most comprehensive and mind-blowing guitar rig on the planet. He calls it “Sonica.” To experience Sonica is to feel as though you have dipped your fingers into the abyss of automatic thought sound manipulation. Honestly, to see and experience it would be the only way to understand the magnificent depth of it. It also takes up virtually his whole living room.
One way I hear about new gear is through Thomas. He brings me some new device at least once a week and forces me to try it. And then he somehow incorporates it into my studio rig. I have never known anyone in this business as detail oriented and hard working as Thomas. He loves his work with a wild-eyed passion. He is the kingpin on raising the enjoyment bar of any touring atmosphere he is part of. He rides a scooter and can transport virtually my entire rig on it. Almost everything he does or says makes us laugh. And as far as being a good guitar tech, he is THE guitar tech.
There is nothing more important to me than to know that when I hit the stage my back is covered, and Thomas is the absolute “high-priest” of guitar teching. He usually claims to be “the oldest guy in the building”, and usually is, but is also the hardest working. Somehow his strength and stamina dwarfs those half his age. He is absolutely the first guy there and the last to leave. He can go for days without sleeping and NEVER misses a beat nor complains. His work is his life and joy. He is an inspired guitar lover and has seen me perform more than anyone on the planet, and is also frighteningly honest with his critique, which is helpful for me. I can’t imagine how I would function on tour without him. But what I have discovered being of the greatest value is the friendship we have created over the years.
Father Thomas, you are extraordinary, and we are grateful. Happy birthday my brother.
With all the appreciation in my soul.