"The Fabulous Flemtones" have owned the stage at at Tierney's Tavern in Montclair every last Friday of the month for the last 34 years.
This Friday was entirely different.
Not only was the Valley Road pub completely empty over coronavirus fears, but The Flemtones were grieving their beloved drummer Orlando Staton, who died March 20 of coronavirus.
A Bloomfield resident and Comcast cable technician, Staton was in the hospital for about a week before he died.
The group's bassist Tim Engle remembered Staton as "the most gentle soul."
"I had the rare privilege of knowing and playing with a lovely man since the mid-70s," Engle said.
"We learned guitar together (thanks, Peter), talked of world events, played in bands together for almost 50 years. He continued on his journey yesterday, scouting out the terrain for those who will eventually follow.
"I know we’ll meet again, share a pitcher of Kami’s and we will once again smile at each other over a crash cymbal. Journey on, my brother and dear friend."
Staton met his bandmates at Montclair High School in the 1970s. They last played together on Feb. 28 to celebrate the 34th anniversary of their Friday shows.
Staton is being remembered with countless photos and videos posted to The Flemtones' Facebook group -- many people thanking him "for the memories."
A 14-minute documentary on the cover band was directed by Jamison LoCascio and produced by Adam Ambrosio.
In lieu of flowers, donations on Staton's memory can be made to Toni's Kitchen.
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