When guitarist Matt Bellinger died suddenly nearly a year ago following a long struggle with drugs, he left behind a storied and prolific career in music. But to Bellinger’s family and friends, it was the son he left behind that was his true legacy.
On Saturday, Bellinger's loved ones are coming together as a family and community at Goosetown Tavern for a show to raise money for Miles Elliott Bellinger Webb, the eight-year-old son they say is Bellinger’s spitting image — except for the bright-red hair.
“Matt touched a lot of people and was an amazing talent, a really intelligent person,” says Chuck French, guitarist for Git Some and Planes Mistaken for Stars, the band that Bellinger started in Peoria, Illinois, more than two decades ago. “He had a definite gift for being super-personable with people and making people comfortable.”
French replaced Bellinger in Planes in 2003, but he’d known him and the band for years. He said he looked up to Bellinger from the moment they met at his house, where Planes and Bellinger’s band, Peralta, played a show.
“Meeting him, the day I met him in my kitchen,” says French, “I was like, ‘They’re the most real people. They don’t give a fuck.’”
Bellinger’s cousin, Josh Coyle, says helping Miles is the least he can do in the memory of someone he loved and looked up to.
“Matt was like a brother to me, and I’m just trying to be a good cousin,” says Coyle, who played guitar in Bellinger’s post-Planes band, Ghost Buffalo. “If we can raise a little money so that it could benefit him down the line, I’d be happy.”
Coyle says friends in Illinois have already established a fund for Miles, collecting donations at Bellinger’s memorial and through a YouCaring page. All proceeds from this weekend’s show, he says, will go directly to that fund.
“Ultimately, it’s going to go toward whatever he might need,” he says, “whether it be college or a car down the road.”
Marie Litton, singer of PrettyMouth, dated Bellinger for seven years and played with him in Ghost Buffalo. She says that over the years, drugs became more and more of a cloud over his life, but Miles was a bright spot.
“It’s just so unfortunate and so sad, because I’d hoped he’d figure it out,” she says. “When he told me he was having a kid, I was like, ‘Hooray! Maybe this will be the thing that changes him.’”
She says there was never a question that the Denver music community would want to support Miles following his dad’s death. She wants Miles to know, when he uses the money raised at the show, that so many people cared about his dad and, by extension, him.
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“It’s this tight-knit community of people that all loved Matt,” says Litton. “[Miles will] know that people loved his dad, and I think that’s important. His dad was very influential to a lot of people, and it’s good that he knows that, too.”
French is blunt about his hopes for the young boy.
“I hope that Matt's son learns to play music in one form or another and doesn’t become a junkie,” he says. “I hope he can learn from all this that happened, some of it before he was even alive.”
Git Some, PrettyMouth, Zebroids and Animal Actress play The Benefit Show for Miles Elliott Bellinger Webb, 8 p.m. Saturday, June 2, at Goosetown Tavern, 3242 East Colfax Avenue. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door. To donate, visit GofundMe.com.