Fred Ho (August 10, 1957 – April 12, 2014)
The bombastic force of nature otherwise known as Fred Ho moved on to another plane of existence this past Saturday morning, surrounded by friends and family. He came into our lives in 2010 in inimitable fashion. After accepting an invitation to participate on the CD compilation On the Move – Sounds Inspired by Mumia Abu Jamal, one of the first things we learned about Fred was that “he doesn’t have much respect for cell phones because they promote flakeism”. An hour -which included a detailed definition of Luddite and several directives, disguised as suggestions – later, a friendship forged in mutual respect and creative collaboration was born.
It is difficult to encapsulate all that Fred did and was in a short missive. There are a number of videos about him on the internet and anyone can access his vast discography online or at the New York Public Library and other collections around the country. Articles have been written about Fred and he’s also a prolific author. It’s more important here to talk about Fred the man. Sometimes difficult to work with, exacting and uncompromising, he was a machine, focused on producing as much as possible so as to saturate our society with his consistent messages of independence, revolution, paradigm shifting and creative and personal excellence. He was also tender, giving, generous and painfully honest. We disagreed a lot, but we knew that the world needed to know who Fred was because his work ethic, his visionary aesthetic and his hard core revolutionary principles were undeniable hallmarks of a singular and great human being.
For the last three and a half years Fred graciously granted BW Moving Images access to his world and permission to document this physically and emotionally taxing time of his life. We are currently finalizing an in-depth look at Fred’s life in all its aspects in the form of a feature length documentary entitled Diary of the Dragon: The Revolution of Fred Ho. The film includes rare and exclusive footage and interviews with Fred’s friends and family members as well as sometimes harrowing visual accounts of the medical struggles that Fred experienced upon the final recurrence of the cancer he battled so valiantly for several years. We had a once in a lifetime opportunity to spend time him in his favorite place on the planet: Mother Ocean in Ka Pae’aina (Hawaii), spending time with his ohana (extended family). He often said he wanted to swim with the dolphins before he died.
Unlike most people, he spent his life and his final years doing what he loves: building revolutionary movements, inspiring and teaching the next generation and waging revolutionary war against capitalism and patriarchy through art. Permeating all of the above is one clear message; the best way to honor Fred and pay tribute to him is to try to live the example he strove to embody: that one’s political life, spiritual life and personal life be fully synchronized.
Fred always talked about how years of playing his sax had caused the instrument’s chemical alteration from exposure to his DNA. And like that instrument, all who have come into contact with Fred have been chemically, spiritually, emotionally and politically altered forever. We are Fred Ho.