Tribute to Mithat Danışan (aka Panço)
Four months into a brand new year and we already lost David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Maurice White, Keith Emerson, Prince and many others. These musicians touched millions of people around the world with their art. I mean, me and my husband are still mourning for the death of Toto’s drummer Jeff Porcaro who passed away in 1992, followed by his brother Mike Porcaro who passed away months before we went and saw Toto in Europe, June 2015. We only know of them because of their music: we’re not related, we didn’t even know them personally but can you imagine what it would be like for their family members and personal friends or even colleagues?
Well, I have become one of those people recently. My soul brother, our bass player, Mithat Danışan (aka Panço) passed away a day after his 67th birthday from a heart attack. He was one of the best musicians the country ever produced, being a part of the very first rock band in Turkey and pretty much every other band that came after it.
I have so many wonderful memories of this great man and I will cherish each one of them forever. It’s hard to choose favourite memories of my time with Panço, there are so many but one that comes to mind was the time of our rehearsals at his place. Nejat, his oldest son was about 5 years old at the time and Yiğit –the youngest –was just a baby. Nejat used to come up to us every time we took a break and tell us that when he grew up he would be playing Omer. Omer was the name of our keyboard player, so he meant “When I grow up, I will play the keyboard.” The next day he would say “When I grow up, I will play Suavi.” By that, he meant the drums. Panço’s wife Ülkü Abla used to make us sucuk-ekmek in the oven (sucuk is a very spicy sausage, very much like chorizo) and a big pot of Turkish tea. I recently realised that I really miss those sucuk-ekmeks but the funny thing is I don’t even eat meat! At the end of each day after the rehearsal, Panço used to give me a lift back home on his motorbike. Being winter, I used to get cold with the wind rushing in through the sleeves of my jacket. As a solution to this problem, he suggested I would reach out from both sides and put my hands in his pockets. But he was a big guy; my hands wouldn’t be able to reach his pockets. We still had a good laugh out of it though.
I tracked him down about a year ago on Facebook through a common friend. I thought he’d be the last person to use Facebook but there he was. He was so chuffed about our finding each other after 27 years. He told me he missed me so much. He was happy to hear that I now live in Australia –a country he, himself had visited as part of his band’s world tour many years ago. He sent me You Tube videos of his youngest son playing base in a private message and he asked me to pay him a visit next time I’m in Kuşadası. Seeing him again after all those years would have been the highlight of my next trip.
I am proud to have known such a fine gentleman with such generosity and a giant heart. He was a dear friend, great musician and my big brother. Turkey has lost a truly great musician who left an indelible mark on my soul and the history of Turkish rock music. RIP Panço. You will surely be missed.