A Lonely Lonely Knight Departed: Remembering Jon Rans

Jon Rans, drummer for Lonely Lonely Knights, is gone.

I met Jon at a Lonely Lonely Knights gig early this year. He came up to me and gave me a pair of 3D glasses. “They want me to give these out,” he shrugged, grinning. Then he took his place behind the drum kit and slugged out the backbeat for what was certainly one of the best garage bands in New Orleans. I’d see Jon on Desire Street, outside of Euclid’s after a band practice, laughing and nonchalant. There was something about him, about all of those guys, I always really liked.

Jon Rans, Lonely Lonely Knight. (Photo: Loverde via Facebook.)

The Knights had the true garage band spirit — sloppy in the best sense, self-deprecating without ever feeling sorry for themselves, great scholars of pop arcana, very, very funny and mocking at times, but most of all united by the sense of how awesome it was to play songs like “Let It All Hang Out,” “Psychotic Reaction” and “Pushing Too Hard” alongside their own stuff. Naturally they worked in record stores and mind-melded with ancient vinyl. Two guitars, bass and Rans on drums, slamming the beat without ever seeming too concerned about it, often smoking that cigarette, carefully balanced on his lower lip as he played. They were a fixture in my life, the Tuesday night hang at the Saturn. Lightnin’ Lee at the bar thinking I’m Dr. John and me not correcting him.

Then the horror-stricken Facebook post from bassist Lefty Parker: “Our drummer and a good man, Jon Rans, passed away suddenly tonight [Sunday]. I loved him, and his achievements were many. He had been a supporter of many scenes and bands, he had a club, and booked many hopelessly awful and great acts. Also a record store owner giving much to his scene.”

Saying he died before his time is an empty phrase but this is another in a way-too-long list of people I’ve known who’ve gone away before I could get to know them like I would have liked to. The band looked good from behind those 3D glasses that night. And when they announced they were gonna play what has been a personal anthem since I was 15, “I’m Not Like Everybody Else” by The Kinks, I screamed affirmation from my bar stool. Jon broke his nonchalance and craned his neck to see who this nutter was screaming at the band, then gave me an approving nod.

The Knights will honor their commitment to play the Hurricane Sandy benefit at the Howlin’ Wolf tonight (Tuesday) with Eric Lindell, Susan Cowsill and Russ Broussard, The Radiators’ Camile Baudoin and Friends, Hot 8 Brass Band, Katey Red, Johnny Dilks and the Highway Kind. The Knights will perform with special guest Joe Adragna on drums… dedicated to Jon Rans.

There will be a memorial for Jon Rans at the Saturn Bar Friday at 7 p.m. Look out.


  • Nes

    R.I P. Jon, my old friend. Before his move to New Orleans he was revered as the drummer for the Mystic Groovies, a Muncie Indiana band famous for those psychedelic hits from the 60’s and 70’s. Long live the Groovies, Lone lonely Knights, and our friend, Jon Rans…

  • Nes

    R.I.P. Jon…before Jon moved to Nawlins he was revered as the drummer for The Mystic Groovies, A Muncie Indiana band famous for their psychedelic sound of the 60’s and 70’s…long live The Mystic groovies, Lonely Lonely Knights, and our friend, Jon…

  • He was also the owner of a used record store here in Muncie. A favorite destination for many of our locals. So very sorry to hear this news. He was good friend to many of us. His passing is a bit of a big chill. Peace to Jon and his loved ones

  • Jeff Davidson

    Goddamn. Also, goddamn it! Jon liked me. I never really knew why. He helped me with a project or two. My ‘scraps of hell’. And I liked Jon. And I didn’t really like anyone. I didn’t really like him for awhile. But then it kind of clicked. I met him when I was still in high school, at another used record store I frequented in my own home town. I thought he was arrogant then. But, after a brief span of time, being a persistent record store rat newly in Muncie, I wore through that quickly with the force of my always ongoing harangue. Then his used record store and juice bar became my home. At least for a bit.

    He provided a performance space for my insults against all human dignity. Also, he issued examples of my abrasive bedroom noise experiments on his compilation tapes, and he proved a lively collaborator and a true friend. Condolences, Rita and Ian.