Gerald Elarde Obituary, Death- I must break the sad news that my cousin Gerald Elarde, who was 76 years old, passed away yesterday after a protracted fight with numerous health concerns, with you all. I’m devastated to learn that my cousin, who was a lifelong best friend, has passed away.
Our family has always been close to the Elarde family, which belongs to my mother since I was a young child. Victor, the brother of my mother, and Evelyn, his wife, had four children, including Jerry. His siblings include James, Janice Elarde Anton, and Judy Elarde Gordon, who passed away from cancer in 2018. We were always together as children as we grew up nearby. Jerry’s family resided in Morton Grove, and he attended Niles West High School, where Nick Fortuna also attended. Most importantly, Barbara, my future wife, also attended. We had three things on our thoughts at the time that we had turned into teenagers: music, girls, and vehicles, though not necessarily in that order.
Jerry had a great singing voice, was a great dancer, and made friends everywhere he went. I appreciated his self-assurance and his ability to attract people to himself like a pied piper. It was fantastic to just hang out with him at the various music clubs and dances we’d attend when we were younger teenagers. When you went dancing at the Holiday Ballroom, the Aragon, the Embassy, or the Wild Goose, you had to put on a coat and tie. Who knew that we’d end up playing shows together in the future? Jerry had the brilliant notion to form a band, and eventually, The Beatles had taken up every waking moment. He urged me to join him on the guitar, and he also knew Curt Bachman, another local guitarist. In their high school accounting class, he had met Nick.
This would mark the beginning of The Kingsmen, our group. The Elarde family owned Norvic Printing, which was helpful because he worked there every summer and after school, and we had business cards created. Jerry also obtained concerts for us. We had to change our name since “the other group” of musicians, “The Kingsmen,” had success with “Louie, Louie,” so we became The Centuries. Carl Bonafede labeled us as The Fabulous Centuries after he started working on our promotion. We enjoyed our time together, performed sock hops and neighborhood dances, and recorded a few songs for the Spectra Sound label.
I had to make the hardest decision of my young life when John Poulos, Dennis Tufano, and George LeGros asked me to join The Pulsations (as they were known at the time).
Jerry’s band, the group he put together, would have to be abandoned in order to join The Pulsations. It was nearly difficult to decide. I had to leave my family in order to pursue my own interests. Nearly impossible, in fact. It wasn’t just moving up a rung; Jerry was a phenomenal singer. Al Jarreau, David Clayton Thomas, George Benson, and Barry White were all present in his voice. Jerry was the best drummer in the world at singing. He and I did go through a difficult period when I left The Centuries, but I’ve never regretted the choice I made. Simple as leaving my family to pursue my own hobbies, it was tense at first but we finally patched things up. It was swift and easy. I was ready to be married when The Buckinghams were at the pinnacle of their success and I was going to launch a new phase of my musical career. Jerry accepted my request to be my best man. He had been present for each significant occasion in my life.