Leonard Haze died in his Hayward, California home September 11 due to complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
“He had that cocky, gruff approach,” says Y&T frontman Dave Meniketti, who formed the band with Haze in 1974. “He was one of a kind. Guys we play with in other bands still talk about him.”
The Mercury News reports Haze was 61 and just played his last gig a few weeks ago, with his solo project HazeXperience. As he had for the past few years, he played with plastic tubes running from his nose to a nearby oxygen tank. His long battle with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease sometimes made it difficult for him to talk and play. But that didn’t mean he couldn’t try.
“We had him come and jam with us last year, and this year, at the Fillmore,” says Meniketti, who grew up down the street from Haze in Oakland, California. “He got up there with his oxygen tank and gave it his best. And the crowd loved it. One of the things on Leonard’s bucket list was to have his name with Y&T on a poster from the Fillmore. We made it happen. That’s what you do for a brother.”
Y&T spent the late 1970s and early ’80s headlining clubs and theaters with opening acts that became bigger than them. Haze used to tell a story about partying with guitar god Eddie Van Halen on the beach in Santa Monica after a gig in which Van Halen opened for Y&T. In later years, Y&T played bigger venues, often opening for bands that had once opened for them.
On album sleeves, Haze was credited for drums, percussion and “smoking on matters,” the meaning of which is open to interpretation.
He was also a songwriter who shared credits on some of Y&T’s biggest songs, including “Hurricane,” “Black Tiger,” “Mean Streak,” “Rescue Me,” and “Summertime Girls.”