Obits — November 5, 2013 at 10:13 am

Charlie Chesterman, frontman of Scruffy the Cat, loses battle with cancer

Charlie Chesterman

Photo via Friends of Charlie Chestserman on Facebook

Charlie Chesterman, the frontman of Boston college-radio favorites Scruffy the Cat, part of the late-’80s cowpunk scene that helped spawn the alt-country movement, lost his ongoing battle with cancer on Monday, according to posts on Facebook this morning by the late musician’s friends, including former bandmate Stephen Fredette,

Fredette broke the news with a simple post to the Scruffy the Cat Fans group on Facebook:

“RIP Charlie Chesterman.”

Another friend, photographer Michael J. Charles, posted a heartfelt message on the Friends of Charlie Chesterman page about two hours later:

I lost a best friend yesterday. Charlie Chesterman, you will be missed dearly by your family, friends and fans. We had a lot of great times over the years and you lived a life that many could only dream of. Cancer took away many things, but it will never take away the love and music you shared with all of us. Thank you for leaving us all with that! I know you’re rockin’ away in a much better place now! Love you “brother!”

Scruffy the Cat reunited in the summer of 2011 for the first time in two decades to play a benefit concert to raise money for the cancer-stricken Chesterman; those shows saw the singer/guitarist reunite with Scruffy bandmates Fredette (guitar), Burns Stanfield (piano) and Randall Lee Gibson (drums).

Speaking to the Boston Globe prior to that benefit, Chesterman said health issues — including Fredette’s now-in-remission lymphoma — had kept the band from reuniting.

“Out of all of us, I think I’m the one that has been the biggest foot-dragger about getting back together. But between the health situation that Stephen has and I have, it’s kind of changed my perspective a little bit. If everybody really wants to do this and I’m the only holdout, then I just need to shut up and get with the program.

It’s time for me to just say yes.’’

The band was set to play two more shows in October of that year, this time with banjo player Stona Fitch, but they were canceled. No explanation was given at the time.

Between 1987 and 1989, Scruffy the Cat released two albums and two EPs  and received college-radio and even some MTV airplay with its single “My Baby, She’s Alright.”

Below, check out footage from the 2011 reunion, and some classic tracks.


Scruffy the Cat, “My Baby, She’s Alright,” 6/12/11


Scruffy the Cat, “Moons of Juptier,” 6/12/11


Scruffy the Cat, “You Dirty Rat”


Scruffy the Cat, “40 Days and 40 Nights”






  1. Very sad news. Scruffy was one hell of a live band. RIP Charlie.

  2. I chatted with Charlie a couple of times after some of his solo gigs, and he was one of the friendliest and most instantly likable musicians I have ever met. I was already a big fan (“I have all your records!”), and I would have remained one if he had been stand-offish or even a jerk, but he managed to make me like him even more. I’ll miss him.

  3. Thanks for linking to our videos of Charlie playing the Scruffy reunion in 2011. He was such a lovely person and such a giant talent. His final recordings were released in September, and from what we hear are top notch. Buy them at CD Baby to support Charlie’s family.

  4. We first knew of Charlie’s musical and performing genius in the hallowed halls of Franklin Jr. High, in Des Moines, IA. It was 1975 and we were all into retro ‘sock hops,’ and Charlie’s band The Flashbacks were a hit. Along with band members Burns Stanfield, Kirk Trow, Dana Purcell, Jay Johnson, Charlie had us bopping until our socks dropped off! He was a super sweet and nice guy. Rock in Peace, Charlie … and the band will play on. Miss you.

  5. Charlie passed away from cancer but like many others that do what they can to survive, he did not “lose his battle”. It seems unfair to use that term.

  6. dashboardhula

    RIP Charlie. you are missed already.

  7. Please consider donating just a few dollars to support Charlie’s family.

  8. Scuffy the Cat set my 15-yo mind alive back in the day! That continued for quite some time. Listening to your old records now, I’m taken back, and hurled forward! Swim the alien shore. Thank you so much, CC!

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