Luke Warm

You are currently browsing articles tagged Luke Warm.

I saw the Rochester music review in a recent issue of the City newspaper. It brought back many fond and painful memories and lessons of Rochester music legacy and lore. I was looking for somebody to fill me in on Luke Warm.

I remember him as a delightful character on the scene (during my original duration in it). I was in the Commercials and we played Scorgie’s, usually as an opening act, from 1982 until about 1984 or so. Obviously, I encountered Luke on every occasion. I gotta hand it to this guy. If he was in a band or had any musical ability – HE NEVER TALKED ABOUT IT IN FRONT OF ME – he never said “come check out my band” or anything of the sort. When I read the review on his musical efforts I was really shocked! Maybe I’m stupid, but I was NOT out of the loop in the old days at Scorgie’s…I was there almost every week for about two years straight. How did I miss him? Nobody spoke up, especially not Luke.

The really sad part is, not only was I denied a chance to hear him do his musical bit, but also the other guys in the bands I opened for (especially the members of the group Passenger), just sort of wrote him off as the club’s resident idiot/lush/foolish jester behind his back. So, being very young at the time, just wrote Luke off as a “happy drunk.” I scared him once by acting like he was interfering on my date with the young lady I  was with. The girl and I were there as “friends-only” (as she was probably under-age at the time), but I did kind of a “hey man, step off” gag, and he vanished in the crowd, tail between his legs.  Now, back then,  I could probably beat my way out of a paper bag…if it was wet. Anyway, a couple of the guys from the Clichés or something got a big laugh out of it.

So, I knew that he was very ill by the late 1980’s (when all us new wavers were hard up for gigs and had to settle on playing Schatzee’s) and I learned that he passed away several years ago when it happened. Tragic thing. It made me think real hard and thank God I’m still here. Thanks for bringing the info home to me.

Tags: , ,

From the March 17th 1995 issue of City Magazine, we have Luke’s Obit. I don’t have a credit for the author of this piece (H.B. Ward?), perhaps Chuck or Pat could fill in the rest of the details.

Luke Warm

Luke Warm


Andrew L. Ogrodowski, a lifelong local rocker known mainly as Luke Warm to his friends (and a few enemies), died on Friday, March 17, in his bedroom in his mother’s home in Greece. It was a warm spring evening and he’d been listening to the radio. He was 35.

His sudden death forces us to press the details of his life into some sort of comprehensible whole. Two years ago, when he was he was 33, Luke laughed, saying, “I’m just a guy who was saved by glitter and glam rock in the ’70’s,” as he tended bar downtown at the Abyss. As Luke perceived his life and tried – as he often did, to understand what it meant – that was no exaggeration at all.

The guy just wasn’t made to be normal. He invented and adopted the name Luke Warm around 1972, as a 12-year-old boy, to complete the elaborate stage persona he had conceived for his first rock band. After an early introduction to NYC glam rockers like T Rex, Luke gradually became the premier collector of rare T Rex records and memorabilia in the US.

Early in life. Luke stopped trying to fit in. “I remember a Red Wings game in the ’70’s,” recalled Luke’s friend and fellow musician Pat Lowerey on the phone recently. “There’s Luke walking down the stairs of Silver Stadium in a cape and full New York Dolls makeup in broad daylight. To him it was normal.”

Luke’s sense of style gave his rebellious energy an outlet and helped him find an identity. But unlike so many fashion bags, he never confused style with basic human grace. Lowerey, once the drummer for Luke’s best-known band, SLT, recalls a defining moment in Luke’s life. At one of SLT’s club dates, a band of hard core, head-shaved punks had been slated to open for them. Listening to them as SLT waited to go on, Luke appreciated the opening band’s energy at first, but then noticed that their lyrics were full of Anti-Semitic, homophobic and racist slurs. “These guys are skinheads!” he said to Lowerey.

That made him mad. “You know how some bands are too cool, like, ‘Don’t approach me?'” said Lowery. “Well, Luke wasn’t like that at all. As soon as he got on stage he just ripped into that band: ‘I Love Jews! I love fags! I live with a black chick!’ He was pointing at the skinheads and yelling into the mike, ‘We got a bunch of fuckin’ Nazis opening our show?'”

Like no one else in Rochester, Luke loved and devoted himself to the local rock scene. In the ’80’s he worked as a DJ and bartender (notably at Scorgies). But a career at the perimeter of the slam pit just wasn’t involved enough for him. His consuming love of music led him to moonlight as the music editor of Downtown magazine. Luke’s prose was as inflamed and confrontational as the music he loved. In an excerpt from the opening of one of his concert reviews (of a local band called “The Bulus“) in 1983, Luke demonstrated his fierce allegiance to Rochester Rockers.

“In this day and age when words mean nothing and dance means everything, it’s nice to see there are bands around to confront this idiotic way of thinking with an iron fist and the Bulus are that type of band. There is nothing wrong with mindless pop, rather fun its dumb way, but there should always be an imaginative, agressive edge to rock and roll to keep it on its often wobbly feet.”

Luke played guitar back then, too, but not, as most remember it, very well. Then, sometime in the summer of ’90, Luke disappeared from Rochester’s nightclub world. For 18 months, he spent his free time practicing by playing along with his collection of blues records. When he re-emerged, in early ’92, he was ready to form SLT – a band whose combination of power, intelligence, and expertise came close to what Luke had been grasping at for most of his life.

The band lasted little more than a year. But SLT is now legendary among Rochester rockers and Luke’s vision, infectious energy, and confidence in the band (“We’re the best rock and roll band in the world,” he used to shout) had everything to do with the legacy SLT left in its wake. Lowerey put it simply: “He wanted to combine the passion of music with intelligent lyrics and play it with such force.”

Luke’s death on March 17 cast a sad and sentimental pall over a crowd of Rochesterians known for dispassionate cool. His wake packed the Miller Funeral Home on Monroe Avenue with hundreds of black-leather rock and roll rebels. The line of tattooed, pierced and crying mourners strung itself through four rooms, heads shaking.

Luke’s mother, Helen Ogrodowski, welcomed every downcast punk who’d knelt before his closed coffin with a warm, appreciative hug. The phrase “He was a sweet guy, wasn’t he” was repeated over and over.

“He was crazy,” said Lowerey. “You could just call him up and he would do anything. If I needed him to do cartwheels naked down Monroe Avenue because I didn’t feel good, he’d do it immediately.”

“He was a great friend.”

audio clip courtesy Simon Ribas of the Presstones, see comments for details

Tags: , , , , ,

When I first started hanging out at Scorgies, I enjoyed going downstairs and hanging out, especially when Luke Warm was in the DJ booth spinning records. No matter what we had at WRUR or in stock at the Record Archive Luke would always have something new and different to play. If I told him I had the 7″ single of the Dynamic Hepnotics “Hepno-Beat” he’d one up me with the 12″ remix.
However, I am ill qualified to properly memorialize Luke. His life was bigger than my memories, and so I asked Pat Lowery (ex Party Dogs, Family Love Probe, Five Star Buffalo, Bulus, Lotus STP, SLT, Big and Pretty, Hotheads, Rat Kings) to pen a fitting Tribute to Luke.
Here it is (with help from Chuck Irving):

Kuke Warm with Brian Goodman and Connie

Luke Warm with Brian Goodman and Connie

Turn Me Up-T-Rex

The first time I met Luke I was at Scorgies about to take the stage in a band named The Party Dogs. He was working as a dj or something but all I knew was that he was bugging us, asking a lot of questions and hangin around. I didn’t know at the time he would prove to be our only fan that night and a much needed confident. The Party Dogs were not for the weak of heart or for the weak of mind. We were not a local band playing dress up on the weekends, or like most bands able to run back to the suburbs at the end of the night to the comfort of their Blondie posters, and rice cakes. As we hit the stage the sparse crowd of local snobs moved away like scared rabbits. Even the owner the big bad Scorgie himself took refuge among his constituents. Only Luke stood alone in the middle of the room screaming at the top of his lungs as we ended ” I Politician,” with kwami Joseph slamming down on his talking drums and R.U. Sirius screaming; “fuck off,” to the posers in the back. That was my first introduction to the man that would later lift me off the back of my drum seat with a guitar style that both destroyed and created its own universe. He was the Zen madman Ginsberg wrote about and ” The Tyger” Blake burned onto the page. That was 1980, our paths would meet again off and on through the next decade.

I never knew Luke’s real name. I had heard people refer to him as obnoxious Andy, but to me he was always Luke. Luke loved old blues guitarists like John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, and Howlin’ Wolf. He also loved Marc Bolan and could easily bridge the gap between these different artists. It was in the showmanship and the bravado they had in common. For a little over three years Luke stayed in his room and practiced guitar and in his own way conjured up a synthesis of styles based on what I call the primordial howl, or as I have written about before-The Big Fuck. Most of us fear the big fuck. We prefer the safer small fuck. Hendrix embraced this feeling, as did Cobain and a few others.

In 1990 or soon after, Luke and Chuck Irving had an idea for a band. They needed a drummer to fill out the roster of Chuck on bass, Luke on guitar, and Mark Marianetti (aka Thing) on vocals. My first response was your kidding, funny idea guys but no thanks. I was forty years old, fat, bloated and out of shape and had been through the local rock band thing too many times already, plus I was suffering from alcoholism and a huge drug problem. I wasn’t worried about Chuck I knew he could play and Thing was already a local legend but the last time I had seen Luke play he was terrible. But fate has a mind of her own and eventually Luke’s relentless persistence paid off.

I would acquiesce for the time being. I would show these guys what punk rock was all about and get a laugh-throw down some beers and a few lines and that would be it. We were in Pat Moschiano’s basement and at first it was terrible. I explained to them that I was a songwriter and an artist and maybe we should try and play a song. Luke was like a caged animal. He was sober at the time and had been sober for three years. Man he was pacing around chain smoking and fiddling with his guitar. He was also mumbling to himself and the whole time his guitar was making this hellish racket. I was listening to Chuck tell me how the song went and then I counted it off. From that opening beat I was in trouble. Luke’s guitar coiled around my neck and was choking me, while Chuck’s bass line was mocking me to play harder while throbbing this current of Hades through my skull. Thing was singing through an amp, but was so loud he sounded as if he was channeling God into the room. Later I would find out he was channeling God. My heart was going to blow I knew it. This was it I thought; these fucks are going to kill me. I kept pounding and Luke’s guitar kept climbing higher and higher and when he began playing the lead to The Hunger everything faded out. I was then suspended above my set, above the laws of earth. I was free! When the song ended I slumped over and grabbed my chest. Luke was so concerned and kind to this beat up old fuck and I was grateful. He looked at me with those huge eyes covered in sweat and mascara and said, ” Pat are you OK, do you need anything, man you look terrible.” And that was the genesis of SLT.

Fourteen years after the band broke up there is a new cd in the works. The cd is being produced at Saxon Recordings and is nearing completion. The songs have been selected from various recording sessions. This will be the first time people will be able to listen and experience the explosive nature of this definitive punk band at the height of their powers. There is also a new CD of songs in the works that will follow. Yes folks SLT lives! Luke can be one persistent spirit. Take a listen and judge for yourself the strange plane his guitar playing was framed from.

I never knew Andy Ogrodowski. Andy died on St Patrick’s Day 1995. Most people didn’t know him. They only thought they had seen him, or had a conversation with him, but I know that isn’t true. I know that isn’t true because most people are small fucks and it isn’t anyone’s fault. There is no one to blame, there never is. Big Fucks, Tygers, Lost Boys, White Niggers, Shadows-the name doesn’t matter, they all seek the high wire. Their love is not easy, so let it go…you never knew Luke. The only thing I do know is when he played we laughed like we were getting away with murder, cause we were. He would look at me lift up his guitar and say, “Ready!”

Tags: , , , ,