Thomas H. “Tom” Stevens, 64, residing in Middlebury, Indiana, passed away
unexpectedly at his home on Saturday evening, January 23. He was born on September
17, 1956 in Elkhart, Indiana, the only son of the late Howard Thomas and Paula
(Marchesseau) Stevens. Tom graduated from Elkhart Central High School in 1975. He
married his best friend and true love, Elaine Marie Hull on December 31, 1983 in Santa
Monica, California. They built a wonderful life together with their 3 children, 2 sons,
James Lawrence Stevens, Zachary Thomas Stevens and daughter Sarah Katheryn
Stevens. Tom is also survived by his 3 sisters Marcia Stevens, Sherry Conely and Vicki
Music was Tom's life. He started as a child playing in his neighborhood band, Congress,
Inc., and then Freedom in his high school years. He often talked about his youth
watching bands play behind his house in Elkhart's Pierre Moran Park. Later in life he
became a proud member of the Elkhart Musicians Club, many of whose members he
saw perform as he grew up. After high school he joined Magi and recorded his first
album with them. As a child in Indiana, infatuated with 60s garage and hard-edged rock
and roll, the regional heroes with their dual-guitar, kick-ass rock and roll style suited him.
When Magi packed their gear and moved west to Los Angeles, they found their angle
was not the LA style, which had replaced theirs with the vibrant punk energy of Black
Flag and X. As other band members moved home, Stevens stayed in Hollywood,
absorbing the raw sounds and urban sensibilities of the L.A. musical landscape. It was
during this period, in between working his shifts at the legendary Tower Records on the
Sunset Strip, that Tom first began seriously writing songs.
Taking a cue from the thriving DIY punk scene around him, with the help of some friends
at Tower, he took those songs and produced a six-song EP on Pulse Records, 1981's
Points of View, which eventually sold out its original pressing and started his solo career.
This was quickly side-tracked as a fateful series of events one day led him to join the
Long Ryders in late 1983. With them, he recorded four critically acclaimed albums,
Native Sons, State of Our Union and Two Fisted Tales in the 80s and Psychedelic
Country Soul in 2019. All albums featured Stevens-penned songs. Together they
traveled across the United States, Canada and Europe. They were featured in many
international magazine covers and had a UK top 40 hit ("Looking For Lewis & Clark"),
and enjoyed long runs on European and U.S music charts. They also performed on
several live TV music shows and MTV in the US. The Long Ryders are credited by many
for creating what is now labeled Alt Country. They also made a Miller Beer commercial
which brought them even more into the public eye.
Together with members of Green on Red and Dream Syndicate, the Long Ryders
recorded what is known as the Paisley Underground Supergroup album, Danny and
Dusty The Lost Weekend which made the year-end top ten best albums list in the New
York Times and a later top 100 list of all time albums in Rolling Stone Magazine. He also
recorded with former Green on Red members, Chris Cacavas with his Junk Yard Love
band, and Jack Waterson, Whose Dog album. Waterson later produced Tom's 1990s
Last Night solo album. In his final days living in the Los Angeles area, he played stand
up bass for Gene Clark, formerly of The Byrds, who was then working with LA legend
Carla Olson. These were some of Clark's last live L.A. performances.
In 1988, he returned to Indiana and became interested in the growing computer culture.
He attended Ivy Tech Community College and earned his Associate’s degree in
computer science. After, he taught introductory computer classes at Ivy Tech and other
locations. He worked as technical support for the nonprofit CILC which brought distance
learning into classrooms across America for many years. He also became interested in
his genealogy and taught a class at the Elkhart County Library for those who needed
help using the computer for genealogical research. He was a lifetime member of the
Elkhart County Genealogical Society and was a contributing member of the US Gen
Website Board until his death. He offered technical support to several Facebook groups,
especially the I Grew Up In Elkhart group.
While living in Middlebury, Tom continued to write and record music. His final solo works,
Another Room, Home and Sooner, along with his anthology Points Revisited were
produced there. He was a contributing member of the online band Donovan's Brain
organized by longtime friend Ron Sanchez. In 2004, the Long Ryders reformed for
performances for the next 15 years. He was a music archivist and collected taped live
shows since the time of his teen years. His archival abilities served well when The Long
Ryders were asked to re-release their 80s albums annotated with live performances from
the eras in which they were originally recorded. He also provided the material from his
library for other live collections the Long Ryders released. In 2018, they recorded their
first album in 32 years, Psychedelic Country Soul at Dr. Dre's studio in the San
Fernando Valley of Southern California. Produced by the legendary Ed Stasium, who
also produced their earlier Two Fisted Tales LP, the work featured vocals from Debbie
and Vicky Peterson of the Bangles among others. He spent most of 2019 and early
2020, until the pandemic hit, on the road once more with the band in support of the
album. Touring with his bandmate brothers and talking to those who knew and loved
their music made that year pure joy.
He spent his final year in his peaceful community with his music surrounded by family
and his cats.
For further details you can check his Wikipedia page at
His music is on Bandcamp for download under both his name https://thetomstevens.bandcamp.com/
and the Long Ryders https://thelongryders.bandcamp.com/
and can be enjoyed on YouTube at both his site https://www.youtube.com/user/tsinsomnia
and with the Long Ryders at https://www.youtube.com/c/Thelongrydersofficial/videos
Tom’s family will gather privately at Billings Funeral Home, and honoring his wishes,
cremation was chosen. Memorials are kindly requested to the family. To share a memory
of Tom or send a condolence to his family, please visit www.billingsfuneralhome.com
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Thomas "Tom" H. Stevens, please visit our floral store.
To the Family