Guitarist David Enloe, 50, dies
By David Menconi, Staff Writer
RALEIGH - The weekend before Thanksgiving, Susan Trent looked at everyone gathered in her husband’s room at Capital Nursing and Rehabilitation. The crowd included notables from three decades of local music history — bands including Arrogance, Superchunk, The Right Profile and The Woods.
“It looks like the Brewery in here,” Trent told her husband, David Enloe. The venerable music club on Hillsborough Street would have been a fitting gathering spot for this bunch.
Enloe, the Woods/Fabulous Knobs guitarist, died early Tuesday morning of complications from liver disease, his wife and friends said. He was hospitalized for six weeks this fall, attracting a steady stream of visitors up until the end, some from far away.
Bob Davis is on the road working for R&B singer R. Kelly nowadays. But 25 years ago, Davis was the Woods’ one-man road crew. So he rented a car in Washington, D.C., to drive down for a visit. Davis made it Monday night, just in time.
“A whole family of musicians has show up over the past two weeks, to hug him or hold his hand,” said Terry Anderson, Enloe’s lifelong friend and bandmate. “Guys who were really influenced by David. It’s been kinda refreshing to see how much he meant to people. Everybody loved him and how talented he was, how great his songs were, how fun he was to hang around. It’s been cathartic.”
Enloe and Anderson were both born on Christmas Day 1956 in the same hospital in Southern Pines. They met over music, playing recorders in a fourth-grade class at Raleigh’s Powell Elementary. By high school, Enloe and Anderson were jamming together and wishing they had a bass player.
By the late ‘70s, they had hooked up with bassist Jack Cornell to form the core of the Fabulous Knobs — one of the most dynamic bands in the Triangle, thanks to lead singer Debra DeMilo. Numerous younger musicians in town found Enloe and the Knobs inspirational.
Jeff Hart remembered a version the Knobs did of Smokey Robinson’s 1981 hit “Being With You,” set to the tune from the Rolling Stones’ “Beast of Burden.”
“He was definitely my guitar hero, the first guy I ever paid close attention to,” said Hart, leader of the Hanks and other local bands. “He was a very fluid guitar player, very sharp technically. Visually, he was just what you would imagine as a rock star — so cool in how he looked, dressed, played. I Know I wasn’t the only guitar player who bought a Telecaster because of him.”
After the Fabulous Knobs dissolved in 1984, Enloe, Anderson and Cornell joined up with Dan Baird to form the Woodpeckers.
Then Baird left to rejoin his old band, the Georgia Satellites, so the Woodpeckers continued on as the Woods.
The Satellites had a hit single with a cover of the Anderson-penned Woodpeckers song “Battleship Chains” in 1987, the same year the Woods released their debut album, “It’s Like This.” But that would be the band’s only album.
The Woods had some success as backup band for Marti Jones and Don Dixon (who both recorded Enloe songs for their albums). On their own, however, the band members had one frustrating record-label near-miss after another. The Woods finally called it quits in 1993, although they’ve continued playing together in other bands.
Enloe lived for a time in Los Angeles and worked with blues-rock singer Sass Jordan. Then he lived in Minneapolis for six years with Trent, his third wife, who he first met 20 years earlier when she was tending bar at Cat’s Cradle.
“I’ve known David forever, always had a crush on him,” Trent said. “Me and all the girls. That hair, you kiddin’ me? He was gorgeous! He was a Southerner through and through. We always called each other ‘Robbins’ and ‘Fuquay,’ because he was from Robbins and I’m from Fuquay-Varina. At the Bottom Line in New York one night, I was walking through in my cool black clothes with my hair messed up like we did in the ‘80s. And I hear from across the way, ‘Fuquay!’ ‘Oh my God, Robbins, you totally blew my cool!’”
Unfortunately, Enloe had ongoing health issues. He never could stop drinking, even when his life depended on it. That led to his separation from Trent earlier this year.
Enloe moved back to Raleigh in the spring, around the time his mother died. He was writing songs again and wanted to get another band going in Raleigh, but he fell ill before that could happen.
“David was a classic, good-lookin’, hard-drinkin’, funny guy,” said Dixon. “But there was an underlying sadness, like a lot of funny guys. There was an unfulfilled something in there that you could feel. I think that’s what drove him not to take better care of himself.”
Enloe’s death comes at a particularly trying time for Anderson, whose father is recovering from heart surgery. But Anderson’s annual birthday-party show is still set to happen Christmas night at the Pour House. Since that would have been Enloe’s 51st birthday, too, it’s sure to be an emotional night.
“It will definitely be bittersweet,” said Cornell. “I really wish David could’ve made it to his birthday. Not that he could’ve been at the show, and he was so miserable at the end I wouldn’t wish more of that on him. But it would’ve been nice. It will be both happy and sad for us, especially Terry. But yeah, we’re gonna play.”
Enloe’s survivors include two brothers, Mark and Steve Enloe. Funeral arrangements are still pending at Kennedy Funeral Home in Robbins.
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one note: I tried to catch Menconi before press time but got his voicemail. David and I were born 6 hours apart but not in the same hospital. I was born in Louisburg.
You are forgiven though David (Menconi) and thanks for a job well done and alerting the public to our and their loss.