SAME WAY TOMORROW: BOBBY SUTLIFF
Recovering from a near-death experience, the songwriting auteur and erstwhile Windbreakers co-founder makes a triumphant return to Pop. Above, he’s pictured onstage in Atlanta this past January with his old pal Tim Lee (with band The Tim Lee 3).
BY JENNIFER KELLY / PHOTO BY JOHN BOYDSTON
“I was unconscious for three days. It was four days before they would tell anybody in my family, including my 21-year-old son, whether I had a chance of living,” says Bobby Sutliff, the Windbreakers veteran, recounting the damage from his near fatal car accident last summer. “I had a huge major brain injury that I still suffer from somewhat. But even down to my neck and below, I think from what I understand, I broke 16 bones, including some stuff that could have caused me permanent paralysis. I was lucky.”
Lucky indeed. When I speak to Sutliff, he has just been cleared to work again at the Wal-Mart distribution center near Columbus, Ohio, where he has held a job for 15 years. He is walking again and playing the guitar. Though he still struggles for certain words, proper nouns mostly, he is functioning remarkably well for a man who almost died.
Moreover, Sutliff is lucky in other ways – in the network of Paisley Pop musical legends who have lent their support to him in the months after the accident. A tribute album called Skrang: Sounds Like Bobby Sutliff compiles 18 cover versions from many different phases of Sutliff’s career, from the first Windbreakers EP to a 2002 solo album. The participating artists are good friends, but also well-known artists from the jangle-pop 1980s – among them, Peter Holsapple of The dB’s, Russ Tolman from True West and the Rain Parade’s Matt Piucci. Not to mention Sutliff’s old Windbreakers partner, Tim Lee.