Erstwhile Atlanta Drummer Mason Brazelle Gone at 53
He’d not been an active participant in the local Atlanta music scene for many years, having moved on to a successful career in alternative rock radio in other cities, but Mason Brazelle forged many long-lasting friendships during his time drumming for assorted Atlanta bands throughout the 1990s and into the early ’00s. This was greatly apparent over the past weekend, as shocked friends and onetime bandmates reacted on Facebook to the news of the 53-year-old’s sudden, unexpected death. Brazelle passed away at Grant Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio the morning of June 6, reportedly the tragic result of complications from a bleeding ulcer.
The list of Atlanta acts Mason played with includes So Inclined, Josh Joplin, Chump, Loudflower, Pencil Dix and Young Antiques. “A friend to everyone,” is how Loudflower’s Rob Groover accurately described Brazelle in a Facebook post. “Truly kindhearted. A music lover like no other.” Indeed, Mason was a tremendous, eager fan of music, especially of the punk, power pop and alternative persuasion. The Clash, The Jam, Cheap Trick, The Replacements, Pixies, Prince, David Bowie, Redd Kross, The Minutemen and Johnny Cash were among his all-time favorites. “His cassette and CD collections were legendary for me,” underscored Groover.
A onetime college radio DJ at Georgia Southern’s WVGS, Mason’s musical knowledge and enthusiasm led him into commercial radio in early 2003. He worked as the Music Director and afternoon drive DJ for Myrtle Beach modern rock station WKZQ, as well as the host of several specialty programs, for 11 years. After he and his wife Joy relocated to Columbus, Ohio, Brazelle worked part-time at modern rock outlet WXZX and was the National Director of alternative and rock formats for radio trade publication FMQB for a spell. Brazelle then joined the on-air staff of that city’s alt-rock station WWCD and became its Program Director in 2017, a position he held until his death. “He had a gift for telling a story with the music he played and I was never surprised at how he excelled in radio,” noted Groover.
It’s interesting to note that Mason made a clean break between his drumming days and his commercial radio career. While many of his radio peers and associates knew of his past in the Atlanta music scene, he didn’t form or join other bands in either Myrtle Beach or Columbus. And although his old friends kept up with his radio shenanigans, and would catch up with him when he passed back through town for something like Shaky Knees (which was the last time I saw him, at last year’s festival), being that he was working in other places most of us never got to hear him on the air. Still, he was never forgotten, and certainly will be very fondly remembered.
“He was like a brother to me,” emphasized Mason’s Chump/Pencil Dix bandmate Tom Branch in a Facebook post, “but then, he was like a brother to a lot of people.”