2005-04-09 18:19:53 UTC
BY BEN SCHMITT
DETROIT FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
A lead singer for several east-side bands, Jason Dermos gained the
most recognition for his stage presence as a front man for the hard
rock group Koyl.
Mr. Dermos, whose stage name was Jason Cross, died Thursday, March 31,
2005 at Mt. Clemens General Hospital. He was 31.
Toxicology reports are pending, but his fiancee, Denise Murphy, said
he died of respiratory failure. She tried reviving him at 2:30 a.m.
after she found him not breathing in her Harrison Township home.
"He was an extremely talented man," Murphy said Tuesday. "We always
thought he was going to make it. He deserved to be big."
Murphy said Mr. Dermos hurt his back last year while digging a ditch
for a sprinkler system as part of his day job. He had been on various
painkillers, she said.
"He was in a lot of pain," she said. "But this was accidental. He was
over-prescribed, I think."
Doug Podell, program director for WRIF-FM (101.1) and an expert on the
local rock scene, said Mr. Dermos' death is shocking.
"Jason had really taken his stage presence to the next level," Podell
Koyl released its debut CD "Panic" in 2002. It garnered radio
attention and an appearance on WRIF's local music program, "Motor City
Podell said he played a radio tribute to Mr. Dermos on Sunday and
plans another one this weekend.
Koyl played Harpo's, I'Rock, Emerald Theatre and the Royal Oak Music
Theater. The band broke up about six months ago.
Nick Guerrero, lead guitarist for Koyl, said, "As far as his singing,
it didn't get any better. He will be impossible to replace."
Guerrero met Mr. Dermos in 1999 when he answered an ad for the band DT
Riot; they splintered off to Koyl in 2001. The name came one day as
they sat in a van on a break from a roofing job.
"We were trying to think of a name for our band and looked at a coil
of nails together for a nail gun," Guerrero said. "That was it."
Mr. Dermos and Guerrero had recently formed a new band, Rekoyl, and
were close to performing again.
They called their former drummer, Doug Kaye, for a reunion. Kaye said
Tuesday he and Mr. Dermos parted on bad terms but he was pondering the
"He was the perfect front man, other than the ego," Kaye said. "But
what singer doesn't have an ego. I took the good with the bad, but I
got tired of the drama and chose a different route."
Kaye said he met up with some of the old band members to play some
Koyl tunes Monday night.
"I broke down and cried," he said.
"What a sad loss of a 31-year-old man."
A fundraising tribute for funeral expenses begins at 8 p.m. Friday at
the Hayloft Liquor Stand in Mt. Clemens.
Survivors include his mother, Jane Orr, two sisters, Shelia and
Jessica Cross; a brother, Adam Kimbro, and grandmother Eleanor Miller.
Services were held Wednesday. Burial was in Michigan Memorial Park in
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