PORTLAND, Maine – Frank Coffin, a bass player who seemed to play with everyone in sunny Maine music, died Friday after a recent cancer diagnosis. Coffin was 65 years old.
A scheduled tribute concert at the Silver Spur in Mechanic Falls on Sunday, hosted by friends and fans to help with Coffin’s medical bills, will go as planned. Instead of a tribute show, with Coffin in attendance, it will be a memorial to one of the state’s most respected country music pillars.
“My heart is broken,” said Maine guitar legend Denny Breau, co-host of the event. “The hardest part is not being able to say goodbye.”
Breau met Coffin in the 1970s and they began to perform regularly together in the 1980s. Hundreds – perhaps thousands – of gigs later, Breau knew Coffin as well as anyone.
“He was a wonderful man with an even pin,” said Breau. “He never got mad and we never had a single crossword all these years – and that’s unusual for musicians.”
With his dark rose-tinted glasses, crooked beard, and trucker cap often perched high on his head, Coffin was an enigmatic stage presence oozing cold blood, with quiet confidence.
Offstage, Breau said Coffin was kind, with a dry sense of humor. As a bassist he was unmatched, stable and tasteful.
“It was a rock. He never overplayed, ”said Breau. “He knew what was going where and established a groove in which you could drive a truck.”
In addition to performing with Breau, Coffin has performed in many bands over the years, such as Taste, Malinda Liberty and the Grownups, and Hurricane Mountain Band.
“And, of course, he sat down with everyone,” Breau said, “like hundreds of groups.”
Coffin was born in Rumford in 1955 and lived in Auburn for many years with music and his partner Liberty. The couple had been together for 46 years.
Liberty gained statewide fame in 1986 with the everlasting seasonal gem, the “Maine Christmas Song”. As always, Coffin was by his side, playing bass on the track.
Liberty first met him in 1976, when creating one of his first groups.
“Everyone said I had to have Frank Coffin, so I did,” Liberty said.
A year later, they formed an official couple.
“He was calm, handsome and humble,” she said, “And he loved music as much as I did – and he treated me really well.”
Coffin then became the second father of Liberty’s two daughters, then aged 3 and 8.
“He loved us like his own,” said Nicole Latourneau. “We never called him Frank. For us, he’s always been a dad.
Later, Coffin also became an enthusiastic grandfather of three children, writing personalized children’s books for each of them.
While working as a musician at night and on weekends, Coffin also had a stable 20 year job at Musician’s First Choice, a music store in Augusta, where he was especially proud to help customers choose their first instruments. .
Coffin’s laid back and friendly demeanor made him a natural salesperson, said store owner Steve Beaulieu.
“We had so much fun here,” said Beaulieu. “Over the past 25 years, I’ve probably spent more time with Frankie than with my wife – and we’ve never had an argument.”
Beaulieu has said he knows exactly what he will miss most about Coffin. “His heart. He was the nicest guy ever, my best friend,” he said.
As news of Coffin’s death spread across social media on Friday, more than a hundred stunned tribute posts emerged in just a few hours.
“Frank was a pro and as cool as he could get,” said Tim Emery, guitarist and co-owner of Buckdancer’s Choice Music Co. in Portland.
“He wasn’t my friend,” Wesley Littlefield said. “He was everyone’s friend.
“Thanks to Frank, I took note that less can be more,” said Steve Mercier.
“You were the foundation of every band you were in,” said Maine country musician DeeDee Allen, who also owns the Silver Spur.
Originally, Liberty was going to sing at the Sunday show, but she canceled those plans. It would be too difficult, she said. But she hopes everyone will come to sing and play and remember Coffin.
“He was the frontman of the group,” Liberty said, “and I know he wants us all to keep playing.”
Frank Coffin’s concert is scheduled for Sunday, July 11 from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Silver Spur, 272 Lewiston St. in Mechanic Falls. Admission is $ 10, BYOB.
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