The South Florida music scene lost a key player this week. Harold Spector, better known as Hal or Boise Bob, passed away at JFK Medical Center in Atlantis, Florida, from complications of undiagnosed cancer and a series of strokes. He was 63 years young. He is survived by his brother Nelson Spector and sister Judy Kryaninko.
Hal had been part of the Florida music since the late 1970s. Born in Baltimore, he moved to the Sunshine State in the mid-'70s with his family and soon found the blossoming punk scene. Hal began toying with studio engineering, was a stagehand, and did whatever it took to be a part of music, recording the likes of the Cichlids, Gay Cowboys in Bondage, and others. Eventually, he hooked up with Frank Falestra and Luciano Delgado at Sync Studio in Miami. The Eat’s EP Hialeah was recorded there under Hal’s watch. Through the '80s and '90s, he recorded many bands at the many different locations of Sync.
Along the way, Hal became a performer. First, he played with the short-lived band Ted Gottfried’s Not Psychedelic. Then he began playing with Pete Moss. They became a duo and eventually roommates.
Legend has it that Hal was about to go onstage once when the announcer asked how to introduce him. He replied, "Beelzebub." But over the club's loud music, the announcer misheard it as "Boise Bob." Hal never turned back.
Boise and Pete performed throughout the late '80s and '90s as a folk-rock duo. Sometimes people would even call the two a comedy act. But their talent was no joke. Their songs were full of wit, sarcasm, and intelligence, like Zappa meets the Fugs. They released one tape, This the Boise and Moss Tape; were included on Here No Evil: A Tribute to the Monkees; and even recorded one hilariously unforgettable Christmas tune.
Around 1996, Hal and Pete put together the electric band Lee County Oswald. I had the honor of playing bass in that band. We recorded one unreleased record and played a few shows before Pete passed away. At that point, Hal barely played the guitar, but he couldn't stop writing songs. He tried a few lineups, changed band names a few times, and then, around 2007, he stumbled upon an old friend, Lori O’Quinn. They started playing as a duo, with him on guitar and her on washboard. They perked the ears of Clifton Childree (washtub bass) and Dan Hosker (banjo). Soon they all formed the honky-tonk band Boise Bob & His Backyard Band.
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That was Hal’s golden moment. The band played everywhere: punk shows, noise shows, art shows, and even in the back of a hay trailer. They hooked up with Robin Roslund on fiddle and occasionally Thomas Stankus on all things strings. Hal had written a country-punk barnburner, "Possum Meat," that was as popular in the local scene as the "Macarena" was in the rest of the world. Whenever and wherever this song was played, the whole place would turn into the freakiest square dance you'd ever seen.
Hal suffered a stroke in 2011, and Dan Hosker had an unfortunate accident in 2012. After that, the band was never the same. Through his life, Hal had bounced from job to job. He ran out of luck by 2016. He was homeless for a while, and with the help of O'Quinn, the Broward Outreach Center, and social security, he got back on his feet. He began having health problems in 2017 and was only hospitalized for a week before passing.
No formal services will be held for Hal, but those who loved him are planning a tribute show and celebration of his life, scheduled tentatively for February. Many performers have already shown interest in performing songs he wrote.