Casper Rocks Out in Memory of Jack Canfield
Friday night, it was abundantly clear that Jack Canfield touched countless lives during his 47 years on Earth.
Canfield took his own life last month. Although he is gone, his presence was felt Friday night as the people who loved him packed a building at the Central Wyoming Fairgrounds to pay their respects and raise money to support Canfield's family.
Canfield is remembered for his infectious personality, his love of music and his kindness to anyone he came across.
Just ask close friend and event organizer Rob Good.
"Jack was always the kind of person who would give you the skin off his back," Good said. "He had a big heart. He loved a lot of people."
Several area metal bands played the event. It was loud. Attendees moshed and their cheers at times overpowered the music. Rockers donned black Slayer t-shirts to pay tribute to Canfield's love for the band.
Canfield was by far Casper's biggest Slayer fan, Good added.
And he loved to introduce friends and strangers alike to the thrash metal band, traveling all over to see their shows. In the process he befriended the band.
"A lot of friends who would be at the same [Slayer] shows — he would take them in and allow them to meet [guitarist] Kerry King," Good said. "That's how big his heart was. He's like, 'Hey you're a Slayer fan. You love Slayer just as much as I do. Check this out: I can introduce you to Kerry King.'"
"That was an amazing thing he did for me," Good continued.
Added close friend Jeff Anderson, who went to his first Slayer show with Canfield:
"When I was standing in line outside, Jack disappeared," Anderson said. "Then all of a sudden, he pops back up with Kerry King's wife and hands me two passes to get in."
"And that was the dude he was. He would introduce you to stuff. He would make sure that, if you were with him, you had the best experience you could."
For Anderson and Good it was about standing next to Canfield watching a metal show. It's what they love. It's what Jack loved. Today, when they hear metal bands like Slayer or Electric Wizard, they're right back standing next to Canfield at a metal show whether it's Slayer or a local event like the one Friday night.
Canfield had hundreds of Slayer shirts. He designed the now-famous "Kill the Kardashians" shirt guitarist Gary Holt wears.
Blake Kight laughs as he remembers the time he and Canfield got into it before leaving for a show their band was playing. They were moving gear out of Canfield's basement. Kight knew if he scratched Canfield's walls it would not end well. So he moved his couch.
"We get upstairs and [Canfield] is like, 'I'm done with this band,'" Kight said. "He walks out for like five minutes and comes back in and says, 'You eat yet?' [Another band member] says, 'No.'"
"And then Jack says, 'Come eat some French fries!'"
Then they went and played their show.
That personality was something those lucky enough to meet Canfield saw from day one. It was something to behold.
Anderson's first memorable encounter with Canfield occurred after moving back to Casper. Anderson wanted his first piercing and his grandmother told him that Canfield — who owned a piercing shop — was the man to do it.
Anderson showed up wearing a Pantera shirt. Canfield quipped that it was far too heavy of a band for Anderson.
At the time, Anderson was 13 and Canfield was 26 or 27. Canfield went out of his way to hang out with the young teen to show him music. They would drive around Casper's streets for hours as they listened to heavy metal.
Everybody loved Canfield. The ripple his loss left in the Casper community was clearly felt Friday night.
But at the same time, Canfield's passing gave area metal heads a chance to find a positive. Anderson said it was a chance to come together for a good show. It was a chance to tell friends you love them. At its core, metal music is about community. It's a not-so-small community around here and it showed Friday night.
As metal heads in their Slayer shirts streamed in and out of the venue, they each had a fond memory of Canfield. Some knew him well, others only in passing. What they all had in common was their memory of a man who loved music and loved to rock.
Donations were taken to help Canfield's wife and son. Several items were donated for a silent auction. Larger-than-life portraits of Canfield were hung. On them were countless signatures of people whose lives he touched some in a tremendous way, others in perhaps a smaller way — but all for the better.
Asked what Canfield's reaction to Friday night's turnout would be, his friends said the man of many words would probably get a bit misty-eyed.
"He'd probably tear up, honestly, knowing that we were doing this for him. He was a pretty stoic dude but you could get to him every once in a while," Anderson said. "He knew that people loved him."