E.N.D. – A Farewell to Ken “Wookie” Cook

After several months of unsuccessful treatment following a diagnosis of cancer last year, Kenneth “Wookie” Cook passed away on April 11, 2016 at the age of 41.

Since 1998, Cook had been a close friend and frequent bandmate of mine. His sturdy loyalty to friends, family, and animals, as well as his large, furry appearance, earned him his beloved nickname.  As a “wookie of habit,” he knew what he liked and craved the arts that provided relief from the struggles of life. Like a classic comedy duo, we shared many adventures, stories, music, and movies together. As a meager tribute, I want to publicly acknowledge some of the prides and accomplishments of his life during the time I knew him.

Wookie’s honest dedication to heavy metal, particularly to the bands Overkill, Kreator, and Voivod, saw him truly support musicians through their careers and actively seek out new generations. He was happy to share his music and knowledge, with the hopes of creating new metalheads. He certainly beefed up my love of the music, and we teamed up for dozens of concerts throughout our friendship. He had the pleasure of meeting two of his musical heroes, D. D. Verni and Mille Petrozza, among many others. It was a wonderful tribute to Cook when a soundman friend on tour with Overkill recorded Blitz, Dave, and Verni sending condolences.

Wookie was also a horror film maniac, with Dawn of the Dead ’78, Carpenter’s The Thing, and Friday the 13th being three of his favorites. Zombies, slashers, and Universal monsters were the most dominant beings in his viewings, with the occasional specter and Godzilla appearances. He was thrilled to live his dream of working a few years at our last local video rental store until its closing. Whenever possible, he discussed and recommended his horror picks with others, and was very successful early in our pal-ship getting me into horror. Another point of pride for Cook was twice meeting his favorite director, George A. Romero, at Flashback Weekend ’04 and ’13. Wook was my co-pilot on journeys to the horror convention world, and I’m honored to have been with him as we met many other horror legends through the years.

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Cook’s signed Dawn of the Dead poster.

Ken was a bassist and vocalist, performing through the years in four bands: Hollowpoint (late ’90s), B.T.S. (2002-2008), Cruciform (2008), and Chance in Hell (2009-2013). It brought him emotional relief to growl and chug on the “E” string while blazing through sets of metal and/or punk. Despite a lack of success, I’m happy to have backed him up during most of his musical career, along with our other great friends.

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Later into his years of passionate writing in the splatterpunk genre, Wookie befriended author Philip Nutman, who provided criticism and crucial guidance. The Plague Diaries may be Wook’s greatest work, with two decades of composition and crafting behind it. Last May, he began publishing his fiction on his blog, Dead Renaissance. Future plans include crowd sourced editing and eventual hard copy publishing of Stumps: A Twisted Romance and The Plague Diaries. Before his passing, Cook gave me his blessing to keep his blog active, with maintenance and occasional updates. On his site, you can read his sick horror writings and view multiple pictures from his four visits to Chicago’s annual Flashback Weekend of Horrors.

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To Wookie, I wish I could hear another “Rrröööaaarrr” from you and reiterate my thanks for the years of headbanging, horror watching, and hanging out. You are greatly missed.

If desired, memorial donations may be made to the Iowa City Hospice.

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