Remembering Rex Marchbanks

The Man Who Lived in the Bowl

Rex Marchbanks
Paul Wellman (file)

It’s universally acknowledged that Rex Marchbanks knew everyone. Whether you were an organic-food freak from Montecito in the ’60s, a hard-partying persona of the ’70s, an avant-garde Funk Zone dweller, or one of the lucky ones who caught a concert from his flavorful Bowl roost, you surely felt at some point that Rex was numbered among your favorite people. He had that way about him: flip-flops, baggy shorts, long hair, and a large bear hug to seal the deal.

“He was my secret weapon,” said the recently retired Sam Scranton, recalling the day he took over operations there in the early 1990s. The S.B.-born Rex was operations manager, meaning he never saw the shows, but oversaw everything from the band’s morning arrival to the final “hang” post-mortem party early the next morning. The smile and the unflappable help rarely faded during the tough days. (Well, the Eagles show was harder than most.) And it was with universal acclaim that the Bowl folks established a monument to Rex in November of 2009, two years after he succumbed to tongue cancer. Today, a boulder engraved with his name marks the steep road up to the venue, now officially dubbed Rex Marchbanks Way. It’s no replacement for the man, but it’s nice.

“Rex was destined to live up there,” said Ann-Marie Cepkauskas, one of his closest friends, remembering the house he lived in until it was refashioned into the Wendy McCaw Terrace in 2003. “It was so funky, but it was also the coolest spot in the world. It was kind of an island,” said Cepkauskas. “You know everybody was his friend; Rex knew so many people. But there was also a very private man there, and the Bowl was his alone for so much of the year. But then everybody came to visit him there. It was a perfect place for him.”

And now it’s all his, Rex Marchbanks Way, for all time.


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