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Best Olympian 2011: Jerry Ziegler

Jerry Ziegler IS the epitome of an Olympia

Jerry Ziegler put in the work that helped put Olympia on the map. Photography by Devin True

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If you are reading this and find yourself asking, "Who the fuck is Jerry Ziegler?" I can only recite the immortal words of Jeffrey Lebowski:

"Obviously, you're not a golfer."

If you don't know Ziegler, you don't know downtown.

Ziegler is the absolute embodiment of the rock-and-roll lifestyle ethos that many purport to have lived. Most of them have barely glimpsed it. Zeigler has it running through his veins.

You can understand the graceful fury of a Great White by watching Shark Week, but you'll never truly know it until it rips your leg off. That's the difference between Jerry Ziegler and the weekend warrior, heavy-metal ass-clowns. Ziegler has ridden the highest of highs that the music scene in Olympia can offer, but he has also been through the lowest of lows, without a pot to piss in or a hand to help him up.

Ziegler's story begins around 1981 at Olympia High School. He was expelled for knocking a fellow student out cold in the Hello Walk, a covered commons area formerly underneath the library. Ziegler found himself with plenty of free time on his hands to play the drums, something he was incredibly, and naturally, adept at. He began gigging with his first band, Bent, made up of his former fellow OHS buddies.

In the mid-1980s Ziegler rose to prominence in the Northwest scene as one of the premier heavy metal drummers with Death Squad, a project that had its claws sunk deep in both Seattle and Olympia. During his Death Squad days, Ziegler picked up a very nasty habit of continuously playing in several bands, which would come to both define his tenacity as a drummer and steer his future. Ziegler played with Coven, Crankster and Priopism, a name which he laughingly explains is "that boner thing where it won't go away."

Around the same time, a young man from Aberdeen, Wash. was calling Olympia home with his up-and-coming band, Nirvana. The band hadn't had a consistent drummer for a while when the young man approached Ziegler about possibly sitting in with them, an offer which Jerry had to decline due to prior commitments with two other bands.

"I don't really want to talk about that ... everybody's got something to say. But I will tell you this. That dude was cool, cool, cool. I used to see him at the Liquor Store almost every day, and he was rad. I absolutely fucking miss him," he says.

Ziegler then took gigs with Backseat Driver, Pit Boss, Larry & The Go Nowheres, Fat & Ugly, Undisputed Heavyweight Champion, Shoot Dope, Black Floyd and many, many others.

Around the Pit Boss days, Ziegler decided to give college a try. No stranger to the law in downtown, he jokingly recounts his "time served."

"I had to do 590 days or so to get a degree, but I got out after 397 for bad behavior," he guffaws with the characteristic laugh that has warmed even the most cold-hearted downtown bar patrons.

After his "release" Ziegler picked up playing with Chief and Hartwood. Hartwood is a rock and roll/country act still gigging hard today. Chief has plans for a reunion show very, very soon. Ziegler is also the current drummer for Fitz of Depression, a former star on K Records during the "grunge-era" explosion of the ‘90s, still touring and writing songs. It's a gig Ziegler has had for about seven years now. 

Ziegler is on a first-name basis with just about every bartender or bar owner in downtown. He has booked or played most venues, and even has a signature drink that most bartenders know to make him when he walks in.

"It's called ‘The Dirty Mattress'," says Ziegler, laughing heartily, "Terry from the Clipper made it up for me. It's basically a Madras in a pint glass with extra booze."

Ziegler's newest venture is Mosquitohawk with fellow Olympia music veteran Jon Merrithew. The band will undoubtedly be making some waves very soon.

So if you're a young rock-and-roll kid in a band that's making the scene or creating a "buzz," and you see Ziegler out on the town, show a little respect for your elders and buy the man a drink. Ziegler put in the work that helped put this town on the musical map.

If you're lucky, he just may give you a big hug and sloppy kiss on the cheek as thanks. But if you decide to get lippy with him, his woman or one of his bartenders, he'll be the first one to tell you to shut it.

And he always takes his fights outside.

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Comments for "Best Olympian 2011: Jerry Ziegler" (9)

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Jeanette from Alaska said on Nov. 13, 2013 at 1:56pm

Dam it's been 14 years sence I've seen Jerry's band play my x used to draw for his band and I used to listen to them practice in his basement.i'd like to hear them play again if I ever make it back to Olympia.this is Jeanette ur friend for long time ago.

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Jeanette said on Nov. 13, 2013 at 2:06pm

Sorry about all the comment I don't use the internet much.don't be mad just keep smiles and everything will be ok.jerry rocks like a rock an roller thanks from Alaska

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Oly Bartender said on Feb. 27, 2011 at 9:24am

Jerry Ziegler, you're a misogynistic alcoholic douchebag who thinks you can grope any drunk girl in town. That's sexual assault, bro. Quite being such a gross predator.

Signed, the girl who smiles anyway so you tip her.

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Carole said on Mar. 06, 2011 at 1:09pm

Jerry is a great guy. Loves his family and friends - who number MANY. Easy to see why he got this distinction. Love to watch him play the drums. None better.

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refugeemama said on Mar. 17, 2011 at 1:45pm

LOL LOL LOL! Oly Bartender. Keep smiling and work it girl.

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kathy metcalf said on Apr. 21, 2011 at 10:22pm


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sabin said on Aug. 02, 2011 at 10:24am

What up & shit ? J z, I split. wa.after several run-ins with bounty hunters.gotta love thatstatue of limitatioens, now I skiff up the rookies in small ak. towns &. just pay the fine. E-mail a phone # & ill' call & bs. Old friend! !!!

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sabin said on Aug. 02, 2011 at 10:52am

What up & shit ? J z, I split. WA. after several run-ins with bounty hunters. gotta love that statute of limitations, now I skuff up the rookies in small ak. towns &. just pay the fine. E-mail a phone # & ill' call & bs. Old friend! !!! Weed, speed, sex, & brew, were the class of 82'...probably shuold have proof read & edited msg. before hitting send. Do ya think ? Ps. Sorry ubout the lawn furnature.

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THATDAMALASKAN said on Mar. 06, 2013 at 3:51pm

TROLLTOWNART that art work back in the 90's man drop line 907-209-0052
fuck miss that band and times juneau needs some death metal in it or up it's ass

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