I’ve never met him, but somehow I know him.
Mark Abrahamian, the guitarist for the band Starship, passed away over the weekend, following a concert in Nebraska. He was doing the thing he loved to do most: playing music for people.
I never had the pleasure of hearing Mark shred on his Les Paul, but found many similarities about myself while reading his biography on his website:
Born February 23, 1966, Mark Abrahamian was taught to play guitar at the age of 10 after being prompted by his mother to “pick something to do this summer”. Mark chose the guitar and was encouraged by her to practice for 15 minutes each day. However, inspired by Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley, Mark was soon practicing on his own within a few months.
The turning point in Mark’s life came in the Seventh Grade when he heard Edward Van Halen’s song entitled Eruption from the album Van Halen..
“I went home and didn’t leave my room until the Ninth Grade.”
For the next few years Mark practiced for hours on end taking the guitar very seriously. He even modified his Dads record player by filing down the gear that drove the turn table so it would play at half speed, so he could take the riffs off the record. It wasn’t long before he was playing for his friends at parties as well as local bands.
When he was seventeen, Mark applied and went to GIT (The Musicians Institute). Being the youngest in his class, “I lived , breathed, ate and slept music.” It was during this period that he discovered such players as John Mclaughlin, Al De Meola, Allan Holdsworth, Jeff Beck, Stevie Ray Vaughan. Discovering different types of music was a big part of his development as a guitar player. Jazz, Funk, Blues and classical all intrigued and inspired him.
Like Mark, I too became inspired to pick up a guitar when I saw Ace Frehley is his KISS make-up. And Van Halen’s “Eruption” became the Holy Grail for me to someday learn how to play. Although I never went to GIT, there was a period of time where I too “lived, breathed, ate and slept music”.
The thing that inspires me the most about Mark’s story is that he made his dream come true. Mark shared the stage with many of the great artists and bands who’s music defined a generation: Starship, Survivor, Loverboy, Toto, AC/DC, Night Ranger and many others. He will surely be missed.
95% of guitarists are lucky to be gigging regularly (most never leave the garage). Fewer still get the opportunity to be the opening act for one of their favorite bands. And then there are those rare exceptions when players get to actually perform with their heroes and become part of the dream. That was Mark Abrahamian.
Mark made it to the “big leagues” as I like to call them. Imagine, growing up listening to your favorite bands and one day being in that band yourself. How cool it must be to walk on stage and see that band’s name on the drum head and know you are a part of it; part of the music you always loved. Mark was constantly reminded every day that he “made it”.
If I can take anything away from Mark’s untimely passing it’s this: Whether you’re performing in the garage or on the big stage always remember to live, love and laugh.
Dreams do come true.