UNDER a myriad of tattoos and a voluminous ginger beard beat one of the biggest hearts in the South. Athon possessed hands that could build custom drums, dominate a grill, fix anything, wrangle bass riffs against Black Tusk bandmate Andrew Fidler’s huge guitar hooks. He was a natural helper with a lust for life and love of travel.
In November, Athon and his girlfriend, Emily Boutwell, were riding home on Athon’s Harley when they were struck by a car driven by an 85-year-old man who failed to stop at a stop sign. The next day, Athon passed away from injuries sustained from the accident.
In the days that followed, the Savannah humidity felt even heavier than usual as the community came together to mourn. Family, friends, tour mates, and fans from all over the world flocked to Savannah to attend the memorial service. The Jinx’s sister shop, Ghost Town Tattoo, offered memorial tattoos—over 100 people now have the memory of Athon inked into their skin, while the window of The Jinx, Athon’s second home, became a memorial shrine, displaying live photos, McRib sandwich boxes, Jim Beam bottles.
At the time of the accident, Black Tusk was already slated for a winter tour with Black Label Society, though it had yet to be announced. The opportunity was something Athon in particular was looking forward to. With old friend Corey Barhorst taking his place, the band confirmed the tour; you can read more in our Black Tusk feature in this issue.
Runner-up: Ben Tucker