Obituary: Pebber Brown
Beloved son, guitar instructor with worldwide following
Beloved son and longtime fixture in the Claremont music scene, Pebber Brown, died suddenly in late February at the age of 62.
“Our family is devastated, and have been mourning his loss ever since,” said his mother, Grace Sanders. “Pebber Brown was a kind, gentle soul. He was a hard taskmaster, as well, for his students, his clients, his colleagues…but that was only because he wanted them to be the very best they could be. He was a born teacher, and the 71 million-plus hits on YouTube for his lessons and sessions attest to that!”
As a child, Pebber loved surfing and did that daily for years when his family lived in Santa Monica and Venice during his early years. He also enjoyed motocross riding, and created a riding track in a then large empty lot that was owned by the Claremont School of Theology, located across the street from the family home. It became known as “Pebber’s track.” One year his stepfather Barry took him to Brand’s Hatch, a motor racing circuit in West Kingsdown, Kent, England, as a special gift. It was quite a memorable treat for the youngster.
He was a very bright student, and was put into California’s MGM program (Mentally Gifted Minor).
“Initially, we felt quite honored,” his mother said. “I had to take off work and drive him a few times a week to downtown L.A. for classes. But when I sat in on one, and found the teacher to be semi-literate, at best, I pulled him out of the program.”
His biggest passion was music, a proclivity he inherited from his father, who had attended the Indiana University Music School as a trumpet player. He took lessons at Santa Monica’s venerable McCabe’s Guitar Shop while still in grade school. Legendary Native American guitarist Jesse Ed Davis (who played alongside Taj Mahal, Eric Clapton, John Lennon, George Harrison) was a neighbor when the family lived in Santa Monica.
“He took Pebber under his wing, inspiring him to take guitar playing seriously,” his mother Grace said. In high school, he started a band called Massage. That group, along with the school’s band, performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland.
Later, Brown became a popular and well-respected guitar instructor, with students across the globe. “Over the years, he taught thousands of students in private classes, online, and at the University of La Verne,” his mother Grace recalled. “Numerous students taking his online classes were from foreign countries, and there are accolades online from many of them.” His online lessons have garnered more than 71 million views and counting.
“He loved children and the heartbreak of his life was when his partner miscarried at five months into the pregnancy, and Peb never got over it,” his mother said. “The doctor actually gave him the fetus to hold. They held a funeral, and even named the child Kalisa (his sister’s name is Kali Isa).”
Despite this heartbreak, or perhaps because of it, Brown became dedicated to his close friend Liz’s grandchildren, Dez and Ciel. He was very attentive to birthdays and holidays, always sending gifts and honoring his family members, his mother said.
He had several medical issues later in life, including diabetes, gout, high blood pressure, tendonitis (terrible for a guitar player), plus being severely overweight.
“He was scheduled to see his doctor on Tuesday, but passed away the day before,” his mother Grace said. “We all sadly wonder if he had been able to see that doctor, if he would be alive today.”
A public memorial is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. this Saturday, May 7 outdoors at the Garner House at Memorial Park, 840 N. Indian Hill Blvd., Claremont 91711. It will include a potluck, and live music.
“Everyone is encouraged to come and play music as well,” his mother Grace said. “Peb would be delighted by that!”