GREENVILLE — Larry Badger, recognized throughout the community as the drummer for the popular local band, Classified, is now living life through the beat of a different drummer…kidney disease.
Badger has been battling renal issues the past year, but has maintained “a great attitude throughout his health struggles,” according to Ann Brubaker, wife of Jed Brubaker, both of whom are planning a fund-raising benefit for their longtime friend.
Badger, who performed with Classified for 12 years, has been drumming for 40 years, and plans on attending the benefit set for 4 to 11 p.m. April 16, the day before his 61st birthday, at the Greenville VFW. He may even get behind a set of drums and play during live entertainment from 8 to 11 p.m.
Featured the day of the benefit will be chicken dinners at $10 ($8 each with pre-sale tickets) from 4 to 6 p.m., a family photo booth and raffle/auction prior to the entertainment, which will include several guest appearances to honor and celebrate “Badge.”
“I haven’t been able to work since this has happened and I don’t know when or if I can go back to work,” Badger said. “All I can do is keep doing my home therapy and hope for the best.”
Badger said it was March 4, 2015, while at his job that he was finding it difficult to breathe.
“My foreman asked me questions about a certain program I was doing and I couldn’t answer him,” Badger recalled. “I couldn’t talk, breathe or walk, and he [foreman] told me to go home. I left work and went straight to the emergency room and was diagnosed with congestive heart failure.”
He was then transferred to Good Samaritan Hospital in Dayton, where he learned he had Stage 4 chronic kidney failure.
Badger attributes it to his high blood pressure history.
“I’ve had high blood pressure since high school,” he said. “The last time I was treated for it [high blood pressure], I didn’t stay on the medications. I worked long hours, was in the band Classified and a lot of things caught up with me.”
He said at the time he was working 12-hours day at his job and playing at gigs with the band, and then go back to work for another 12-hour shift, sometimes seven days a week.
“I wish I would have curbed my band activities,” he said. “I thought I was Superman.”
The 1973 Greenville High School graduate went to college at South Carolina State for five years and earned a degree in history with a minor in social studies.
“I was a substitute teacher at Mississinawa Valley in the early 1980s, worked at Corning here and there, was at Cadillac-Gage for a year and 31 years ago went to work for Ohio Cal-Plastics, now Poly One,” he said.
Badger, Robbie Jones and Jed Brubaker started Classified in 1998.
“I stopped playing with them when I got sick and it eventually disbanded,” he said. “Now, I am playing with Jed, trying to get my stamina back together. I didn’t have the strength to do one son, and now I can play 10 to 15 songs. I will never be as aggressive as I was at drumming.”
Badger said he taught himself on the drums.
“It took two years to develop coordination,” he said. “I had to stay with it everyday.”
He is currently living with his significant other, Pam Runner.
Badger is now limited to his activities, so he spends much of his time with therapy and eating healthy. He is on home dialysis every day, five times a day.
He is also on a low-sodium diet. He said he also has to watch his fluid intake, drinking an equivalent to two bottles of fluid a day of certain beverages.
“Right now, I’m 60 to 70 percent from where I was before it happened,” he said. “I was down to 140 pounds and looked like walking death. Now I’m back up to 175 pounds.”
His kidneys are that bad.
“I’m here to say…follow the doctor’s orders,” Badger advised. “I never thought I’d get this way. Your body tells you when things aren’t quite right.”
He can’t wait for the benefit.
“I will probably play that night,” he said. “It is open to the public. I think people will want to see the old Classified members reunite. They are making it family-friendly benefit and, at the end, all band members will probably be called up on stage.”
Badger said he also used to play in the band Borderline with Bruce Kaiser, Jed Brubaker, Robbie Jones, Robbie Fitzgerald and Mike Burkett.
“I played with some of them for over 20 years,” he said. “Classified plays classic rock. We mix some dance music with it. I have run the gamut [of music genre] in 40 years. I have autographed many a drumstick I have passed on. It is gratifying that God gave me the longevity to do that. I always wanted to be a positive influence.”
The fifth child of Geraldine Badger of Greenville and the late Athaniel Badger, who died in 1966, Larry said it will be gratifying to see which people come to his benefit.
“I never realized people care,” he said. “They speak for the people of this community. We moved here when I was 2. I am grateful for a lot of family and friends who care about me, and I care about them. We were raised to treat people like we wanted to be treated. I want people to have a good time and enjoy that day [of the benefit]. I am gratified that I’m still alive and can be a part of it.”
He concluded, “I was fortunate to play and have a job. I got to do what I wanted to do…play in a band for 40 years. I always had faith in God.”