Christopher Wesley Brooks of Nashville, TN entered the gates of Heaven on October 11, 2023. Born on July 18, 1957, the same date as his beloved grandmother everyone called Peppie, he was 66 years old. Like Peppie, Chris was well liked and admired for his energy and talents, his good cheer and love of those in his many circles of friends and family.
Chris’ parents were the late Charles Brooks and the late Jo Ann Brooks Williams. He is survived by his wife, Lori Westerman Brooks; daughter Stephanie (Nick) Ivey and grandchildren Jackson and Meredith Ivey; daughter Shannon Brooks; sister Debbie Brooks Davis; aunt Marvene Swayze, and numerous cousins and close friends. He is also survived by his business partner of 33 years, Chris (Louise) Crockarell.
Chris was born in Nashville and attended Tom Joy Elementary, Two Rivers High School and graduated from the newly built McGavock High School in 1974, where he was a percussion section leader of the award winning McGavock High School Band under the direction of Ken Hull and Jay Dawson, as well as played drums in the McGavock Jazz-Rock Ensemble under the direction of Bobbie Jean Frost. He also was a percussionist in the Nashville Youth Orchestra under then Nashville Symphony Conductor Thor Johnson with longtime friends Ted Wilson and Neil Rutland, where his love of symphonic music was born and flourished. As a teen, he played drums in numerous garage bands in the Donelson area. One in particular was the popular rock and roll “Glory”. He cut his club playing teeth at a club on Murfreesboro Road where he was discovered one evening playing under age. His dad later picked him up from juvenal detention sure in the belief his son would be one to follow his dreams. That would later hold true. Chris played drums in numerous Opryland shows led by the much admired Broadway veteran guitarist, arranger, and recording artist, Lloyd Wells, for five seasons starting in 1974. He loved playing shows and the chance to play with the more seasoned players there. He formed many great friendships that continue to this day, and was grateful for each of the friends and opportunities there he enjoyed. He played the first, and only, “Lucy Comes To Nashville” television special starring Lucille Ball and was offered the drum chair in the pre-Broadway production of “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” that went on to a successful Broadway run, but declined so as to remain in Nashville to pursue the opportunity to play with Nashville’s own nationally known Beegie Adair, from whom he learned a great deal of the importance of song lyrics and how to play well with singers, as well as within a rhythm section. Chris enjoyed recording work in Nashville and other music centers and became a favorite of numerous jingle writers and producers, including Dan Williams Music in Nashville, where he worked with jingle greats Dan Williams, Tom Smith, and Mike Stewart. He was on jingles for Clorox Two “Mama’s Got De Magic”, and Pontiac “Ride, Pontiac Ride”, as well as many other top drawer productions. Chris played live trade shows in Nashville at the busy Opryland Hotel and Convention Center and around North America , and through the years lived the road touring life a short while with artists Donna Fargo and the great Roger Miller. In the early eighties, Chris lived in Toronto, Ontario playing and singing on numerous jingles such as LaBatts Beer. He even played and sang a character in the hit Canadian children’s show Fraggle Rock. He enjoyed his time in Canada, where he played with many talented players, writers and producers on live, recording, and TV productions. He got to see lots of Canada. He loved the Rockies where his love of being in the mountains flourished.
Chris played with Dan Sherry in the always popular Peter and the Wolf around Nashville, and as far as Chicago area, where he honed his singing skills and helped to make a successful duo sound like much more than two guys. He spent numerous years with the well-known horn band Collage, later renamed Cor. He played gigs with numerous society bands such as the Kadillacs, the Sam Levine Band, the Pat Patrick Band, and The Manhattan Dance Orchestra, later known as Club Fred. He also played drums for over 20 years in the orchestra for the annual Miss Tennessee pageant in Jackson under Chris McDonald. There, when not playing the weekday preliminary contests, he and his buddies would hold their annual Belligerence Golf Tournament where most rules of decorum were off. Many great laughable moments came from those crazy rounds of golf. Chris and friend Ted Wilson had the chance to produce a few jingles and looked into starting their own jingle company. They later decided they preferred to stick with the music writing and production side of the jingle business and continue to be available with how they best fit into the jingle world. Business would again be a part of Chris’ dreams, however…
Chris and dear friend, Chris Crockarell, had a vision 33 years ago to start a publishing company inspired by their friendships and professional experiences with their good friend, former high school teacher, and mentor Jay Dawson. Jay and his Arranger’s Publishing Company business partner, Jeff Hearington, inspired and encouraged the two Chris’, later known as Crock and Brooksie, to create and grow a new percussion literature publishing company, Row-Loff Productions. Row-Loff took off world-wide due to lots of hard work, heart and sweat that went into Row-Loff, and still does, reaping many expected and unexpected rewards. Louise and Lori did their fair share of work behind the scenes and on the microphone through the years to support Crock and Brooksie as they labored to realize their dream of offering great music of all levels with fun and flare to those customers looking for new percussion material and new ways to develop talents, encourage participation, and most importantly, have fun. They are known for their fun spirit and crazy suits. Numerous personal and professional friendships and dreams have been realized through the tireless efforts of Crock and Brooksie, and the many talented music writers and contributors who are family to Row-Loff, and will no doubt continue to.
Chris has enjoyed in his more recent years playing drums with a Nashville favorite, The Moonlighters, a local orchestra led by Gene Gibson, that plays a variety of live gigs around Nashville composed of players and arrangers with various “day jobs” who simply love the joy and fellowship of playing good ensemble music.
Music has always been an important part of Chris’ life. From his childhood of playing piano, guitar and singing to his ever growing love of all types of music that he played or listened to with joy and appreciation. He mostly loved to see the light bulb moments with children who discovered the soul-filling joy that music brings. He also had an interest in medicine, and later, veterinary medicine, that he seriously thought of pursuing. His love for animals was a joy to behold, especially when he was told by his wife he must care for her cat while she was out of town for two weeks. Upon her return she discovered he had gone from tolerating her cat to having gone out of this world crazy for her. Thus, his lifelong adoration for cats was born. He also was all things baseball. From childhood participation in Little League to proudly wearing his Cardinals hats to his beloved Sounds team t shirts, he worshipped the game. He proudly made his annual Cardinals pilgrimage to St Louis with childhood friends Mike and Greg Hassell to meet up with their cousin, Glen. Together they hooted and hollered for an entire weekend of games, and somehow always picked the weekend with perfect weather with the travel gods protecting them on their journeys. Mike was also in the McGavock drumline with Chris many years ago, was best man at Chris and Lori’s wedding and has remained a steadfast friend and brother to Chris. Chris was also a coach for many years for both Stephanie and Shannon’s softball teams. He spent countless hours in the backyard as a catcher for budding fast-pitchers. He loved guiding the girls as they developed their skills and shared a love for the game. The last several years Crock and Brooksie would meet up with great friends, George Jacob, owner of American Drum in Richmond, Virginia, and Larry Lawless, both fellow percussionists, at various lakes in TN, VA and NC for a long weekend of good fishing, good eating and good fun! Brooksie always knew a good time when he found one! Chris also loved being in the mountains and began a life-long dream of building a cabin on Monteagle Mountain in Sewanee, TN in 2019. He spent many hours planning and constructing the cabin with his own hands, as well as spending many happy hours there with good friends. It was there that he always said he felt closest to God.
The family wishes to express their deepest gratitude for the outpouring of love and concern from friends, neighbors, and family. The expressions of love and devotion has been overwhelming and deeply moving. Chris would sincerely thank you all for being a part of his life, and ask you to love fully, treat others well, and live your lives with passion and gratitude. He would continually comment he was a richly blessed man. Indeed he was. He will be greatly missed and forever loved.