It is with a heavy heart that I am writing today about the recent loss of our amazing bass player and cherished friend and brother Phil “Hoffy” Hoffman after a brave struggle with cancer. Phil was almost a generation younger than Little Goose and myself and leaves behind his wonderful wife TJ and two young boys, Charlie and Brady.
After I moved from Queensland to W.A. we couldn’t visit each other any more, but in the last few months Phil reached out to me for some advice. His reaction to his diagnosis was to set up a new home studio and start recording seriously, so I was able to recommend the gear he needed to get the job done. Between bouts of his treatment, Phil and young Charlie, who is a promising keyboard player, had lots of fun experimenting in their new studio. He even bought a new Strat to add to his armoury.
Hoffy was recommended to us in Brisbane by our old friend Harry Brus, who was playing with Kevin Borich at the time and had seen Hoffy performing in a local support band, and was suitably impressed. Goose and I were in need of a bass player and Hoffy more than filled the position. He instantly blended with Little Goose’s insane drumming style, and the two became an absolute powerhouse. Many times at gigs I would wander off the stage and go to the bar for a refresher, while Hoffy and Little Goose drove their speeding freight train right through the middle of the venue!
We had a secret in those days that we never revealed to anyone, agent, manager or venue. We had one rule – no rehearsals, ever! Revealing that we had very little idea of what we were doing would have been politically incorrect, but we loved living dangerously. We would record all our gigs, and some of those jams became good songs that we could incorporate into the repertoire, but they were only “rehearsed” on stage at the gig. With great players who are adept in the art of eye contact and subtle body language, rehearsals aren’t so important. I loved every second playing with Hoffy and Little Goose. They brought out the best in everything, and with their immense talent I was constantly challenged to do the best I could. I really miss those days.
Hoffy was more than just a brilliant bass player. He was a man of action. When we met him he had a pilot’s licence (which he unfortunately had to give up after a bout with a form of epilipsy), and had been a successful equestrian amongst other interests and was a denizen of the famous Tamworth country music scene. When we first met, Hoffy mentioned how much he was into country, but we found out very quickly that he could play virtually anything he put his hand to. In a rock band he was a bass powerhouse, and he also excelled at jazz fusion and blues. He was also second to none as a computer programmer and he ran a successful business in IT for many years. He also taught me how to build websites and do some programming, which came in very handy. Always grateful for that.
The last line up of the Vigilantes with Hoffy and Little Goose was the most musically exciting for me. I really enjoyed playing with all the previous members of the band over the years, and I’m proud of all the musicians who have played with us, but setting out on an unknown musical adventure with Hoffy and Little Goose night after night was brilliant!
We will always miss you, Hoffy, and you weren’t with us as long as you should have been, but the memory of sharing our lives with you and TJ and the boys will always linger. The word “legend” is overused these days, but to me, Hoffy will always be a true legend.