It was easy to be homies with Alejandro Morales. You might have met him at one of his gigs—he drummed in noise-punk band Running and experimental duo Piss Piss Piss Moan Moan Moan, among other projects—but all you really had to do was stand anywhere near him in the crowd at somebody else’s show or lurk by the DJ booth when he was spinning records. Sooner or later his earnest, supportive attention would land on you like a ray of sunshine. (Bonus points if you wanted to go deep about his favorite band, the Fall—that’s how this wolf got to know him.) Tragically, Morales passed away Sunday at age 46 while visiting family in Puerto Rico. In the eyes of his many friends, his generous spirit and boundless enthusiasm made him the beating heart of Chicago’s DIY rock scene, and his death hits especially hard.
American Dreams Records founder Jordan Reyes says Morales was especially important as an advocate. “When someone had a new project, he knew about it and was stoked about it,” Reyes says. “He was everyone’s biggest fan and was at so many damn shows. He loved people and he loved his scene.” Morales also advocated outside the scene: Running bassist Matthew Hord, who calls him “my best friend,” says that Morales “was wholly dedicated to community organizing and neighborhood-level activism. He worked in Pilsen at Resurrection Project for a decade helping the less fortunate with their housing needs and switched to Bickerdike in Humboldt Park in recent years. He was finishing receiving a CPA so he could do accounting in that nonprofit sector instead of fundraising.”
Guitarist Ryley Walker, who lived with Morales on and off for six years and released a collaboration with Running in 2018, describes their relationship as a gift: “To see him every morning making an egg sandwich in his leopard-print robe saying ‘Homie, do you want one?’ is a memory that will be with me forever.” Luca Cimarusti of Luggage and Annihilus (a former Reader staffer) says that “Alex crammed so much fun and fearless living into his life, never regretting or missing out on anything. If everyone lived even a tiny bit more like him, I think we’d all be a lot happier.”
Oozing Wound front man Zack Weil calls Morales “one of the funniest and brightest people I have ever met. He was instantly captivating and a calming presence.” Electronic musician Brett Naucke met Morales in 2007 and can barely imagine the world without his friend. “It just seems like we always knew each other and were always close,” Naucke says. “Entering a room with him was so entertaining, as there would be a handshake line of people waiting just to greet him. His dedication to making people happy was so admirable and will live on and inspire. I look forward to seeing him again someday.”
A memorial to Morales has appeared outside the Empty Bottle. Plans for a more organized remembrance are still developing. v
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