EXCLUSIVE: The Loss & Legacy of Thee Ram, His Identity Revealed, New Suspect in Custody as of 10/18

*****Click Here for NEW POST for Thee Ram Jam’s Tribute Concert published DECEMBER 6th, 2011.********

Was Thee Ram the greatest bass player never known?

by Kitty Savage

The article below was published October 15th 3a.m., and last updated October 19th.

Funk Music News Update on October 18th 3pm- Suspect Released, New Suspect Booked

Closely following the midnight hour of October 15th, Bootsy Collins, original bassist of Parliament Funkadelic,  signed on to Facebook to share sad news with the funk community. “My friend and fellow bass player “Thee-Ram”, got murdered last night. He was just bouncing back from his Mothers passing about 4 months ago.”

It has been a deep mystery as to who Thee Ram Jam truly is, as, since 2010, the mystery character appeared unrevealingly in ornate masks and capes. Bass forumers have argued for months that he may be Les Claypool, Victor Wooten or Bootsy himself. Actually, as Bootsy revealed “Send up your love and prayers for the Brison family,” the time to remove the mask had come, and too soon.

Bootsy explains the story of how they came to meet and work together, below:

Thee Ram is Theron Brison, and from all the research FMN has done, he appears to be a normal guy. Well, perhaps normal wouldn’t be the word to use. Exceptional fits better. Theron, who had previously battled addictions in his life, redirected his purpose to helping others who were bearing rehabilitation. He had a passion for his day job as program director and drug abuse councilor  at MFI Recovery Center, offering involvement in his community theatre and Riverside church. Overall, Theron was an uplifting, open hearted person, yet maintained a discrete and abnormal double identity as a character built by himself and Bootsy Collins.

In fact, besides one uncloaked, unnoticed appearance at NAAM this year, playing his Watson Guitars’ custom bass, the secretive funk figure appeared as Thee Ram Jam publicly and in media as the stubbornly masked ram, slapping out the jamminest funk in the universe on an LED lit Watson bass, leaving listeners and viewers in stupor and awe.

Watson Guitars’ co-owner Tere Quevedo wrote to Funk News, sharing that Theron was  “Articulate, intelligent, compassionate, kind, funny and enlightened, truly one of the brightest lights and kindest souls I’ve ever had the privilege to know.  He gave us a tour of his facility in San Jacinto one day, when I went to show him progress on his bass.  He was prideful of what he did, as he should have been.  He was inspired and truly invested in his clients’ lives.”

Sadly, Funk Music News is the only news site covering this intriguing story about both sides of the man. Many reports in the artists’ area did not mention Brison as a musician, but details have been coming out as to the type of person the real man was.

Alicia Robinson of The Press Enterprise reported that “MFI Recovery Center Executive Director Craig Lambdin wrote in an e-mail that Brison was “a kind and good natured person. For the last 20 years he has devoted his life to help others turn their lives around. There are literally hundreds of people who would say that he was the instrumental force in changing their lives, some would save he saved their lives.” His friend Lynn adds, “He especially enjoyed the challenge of working with the teens.”

Lambdin was not embellishing. More and more, the story of this amazing man is emerging from his friends, coworkers, family, and those lives he touched deeply. Theron’s friend Natialie McDonald commented on The Press Enterprise’s local report that Theron “believed in “oneness” and in the unity of all people; he believed in kindness and the goodness in everyone–he believed in laughter, music, and Theron believed in love. And he practiced what he preached.” Other comments included “I’m not exagerating when I say that Theron saved my life. His words and manner literally grasped me from an uncontrolled plunge into the dark abyss of opiate addiction. That was 3 years ago, and I doubt I would be around today without Theron.” and “Theron changed my life, and gave me the coping skills I needed for motherhood.” Co-worker John Van Doren wrote “This is a major loss to the recovery community of the Inland Empire and to me personally. My condolences to all who loved and cherished him as the treasure he was.”

One special story Jason Miller shared on Theron’s new Facebook tribute page was “In ‎1999,the image of you leading a large group of us addicts, in outdoor aerobics session w/ your boombox, I remember thinking “Man, this guy is crazy.” But I soon recognized the method to your madness. You spent so much time there helping us, and your methods seemed unorthodox at times but you alway had a strong message to carry.When I returned ’04 it was no surprise to me that you were running the place. You were the first one there to greet me with open arms. You were there to care for me ever before I could care for myself, for that I am forever grateful to you. You may have been pleased to know I have choosen to pursue a carreer as a drug and alcohol counselor and am currently in school to do so. I had hoped I would one day be able to meet u again and thank you for helping to inspire me to change my life.”

According to non-profit community theatre group BNBI, in 2007, the mastermind musician was formerly known as Theron “Thumpin Theron” Brison, being dubbed for his talent thumping out “triplets, in the pocket, at the drop of a groove.” BNBI, or Bent Not Broken Inspired, a non-profit based in Atlanta and California, focuses their productions on difficult social issues impacting the community, and Brison was a member of the “community players” before signing with Bootsy’s production company in 2010.

Below, Thee Ram shares lessons on playing triplets on bass, through Bootsy’s Funk University.

While Brison was an obvious leader in his community, watching his videos, it is easy to see how the masked musician could pass for a worldwide legend when disguised. His fast-plunking style is mind-blowing. Watson Guitars’ says on their site, Thee Ram “is destined to become a powerful and funky force in the 2010 music scene.” Watson designed the extra-terrestrial ram’s dazzling bass, glittering his spacey playing with LED lights installed in the fretboard. You can scour the details of the instrument on the Watson Guitar site. Tere Quevedo of Watson Guitars remembers “We had the privilege of getting to know Theron as we constructed what he called his “dream” bass over a period of years.  He would drive up to our shop in Idyllwild and hold his bass in his arms like the love of his life. ” His friend Lynn recalls “He described playing that bass like playing a lover. He was so in love with that guitar. ”

“Thee Ram” not only signed on Bootzilla Productions, but also appeared as a professor for Bootsy Collins’ Funk University, an online community for players of any level to learn the history and practice for the future in funk. Students enjoyed his Rama-Jam mythology and slowed down, close-up, inspired teaching styles on the university’s video lessons collection.

Thee Ram explained to earthlings on his homepage, “I came to this here “Big Blue Ball of Water” you all calls Earth ‘cause they say that aside from Rama-Jam this “Big Blue Ball of Water” is tha funkiest place in the Universe!” Lynn relayed that “Theron was excited with his future with Bootsie. He was especially thrilled with a magazine article in a magazine a few months ago and the opportunity he had to meet Snoop Dog not long ago.”

However, just as his global musical debut was being birthed, a coworker at the MFI Recovery Center allegedly cut his life short. (***Updates have shown that Zahir is not the culprit- read more here***)

Photo of Alan Veniscofsky of Telefunken Elektroakustik, Frankie Kash Waddy (P-Funk drummer), bassist of The Big Ol’ Nasty Getdown John Heintz, Bootsy Collins, and Thee Ram Jam at NAAM this year. Tere from Watson Guitars says, ” He spent hours a day in our NAMM booth, gracing us with his company, enjoying my home made brownies, playing his much loved custom Watson bass and just hanging out.”

The Sheriff of San Jacinto, California’s press release was posted on the morning of the 15th, and stated “During the course of the investigation, detectives and investigators arrested Zahid Sardar Masih for his involvement in the murder of Theron Brison. Masih is a 37-year-old resident of Hemet and also an employee of the same business.”

For now, the suspect is behind bars. CBS Los Angeles writes, “[The suspect] Masih was booked into the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facility in Banning on suspicion of murder and was being held in lieu of $1 million bail, jail records show.” However, it is important to note that this nor any article besides this Funk Music News report identifies Theron as the masterful bassist associated with Wooten and Collins.

Why did Brison, an otherwise unknown talent, decide to enter the music business disguised? Why didn’t he share this secret with those close to him?

As of yet, Brison’s obituary has not been published, and details of the tragedy are scarce and do not link Theron with his alter-ego Thee Ram- except for this exclusive article.
Thee Ram left this planet too soon for the masses to know of his otherworldy expressions. It is up to us funkateers to preserve the legend that is Thee Ram aka “Thumpin Theron,” to share this story, inspiration and the music he left behind.

The man behind the mask: Theron Brison

Photo Credit : Jairaj Swann

41 thoughts on “EXCLUSIVE: The Loss & Legacy of Thee Ram, His Identity Revealed, New Suspect in Custody as of 10/18

  1. One of my dearest friends. I miss him so much. He dedicated his life to helping others. Forever in my heart. RIP my friend

    1. Thank you, Tina, and I am sorry for your loss. If you wouldn’t mind illustrating some memories of him to share with me, I would be happy to include them in this article as I help funk fans understand who the real man was behind the mask, and what kind of person he was in his community, where he was simply known as Theron. FunkMusicNews1@gmail.com -Kitty

  2. Theron and his partner Ted are very close friends of mine. Theron was one of the kindest funniest men I knew. He was able to spin stories like no other. He was full of life and spunk. He would never walk away from an opportunity to help anyone. His death is a tragety and his soul is a loss to this world. He was an example to live by.

    He worked hard at his regular job helping the misguided lost souils but the love of his life was music and bass. When I was with him conversation was often around music and Bootsie. He was excited to work with Bootsie and it gave him great pleasure. RIP Theron….

  3. Wow my Brother in God has truly Blessed our community in Riverside and he will be Truly missed. Thank you for being a light in our youth and community. We learned so much about music, Love, peace & Joy that comes with it. You are forever in our hearts. Peace & Blessings, Love & Light

  4. Theron was a kind and good natured person. For the last 20 years he has devoted his iife to helping others turn their lives around. There are literally hundreds of people who would say that he was the instrumental force in changing their lives, some would say he saved their lives. In many ways the world is not yet ready for such a beautiful person. I am sure if you check socia media sites you will be amazed to find out how famous he really is for all the good he has accomplished for others. He deserved so much better than to end in such a tragic way. He was an inspiration to all who knew him (even disguised as theramajama), Sincerely, Craig Lambdin M.A. Executive Director MFI Recovery Center

  5. I never met Theron but he was a close friend of my brother-in-law’s and I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about the man and his music. I am truly sorry for the loss. It’s a real shame to lose a gentle soul and great musician especially in the manner he was taken. RIP Theron.

  6. Theron was my mom’s best friend, she’d known him since 1987, a year after I was born. She saw him nearly every day, and he was consistently a bright spot in the oftentimes dark and heartbreaking industry of drug rehabilitation. They worked together for years, and as I grew up, one of my favorite parts of going to visit my mom at work was seeing Theron.

    He was one of the most caring and funny individuals–and the necklace you see in the picture of him without his costume is a legacy he passed on to me–he believed in “oneness” and in the unity of all people; he believed in kindness and the goodness in everyone–he believed in laughter, music, and Theron believed in love. And he practiced what he preached.

    He was one of my most favorite people in the world–and this is a travesty that has left the world and the Fight for Good at a gross disadvantage.

  7. I knew this remarkable and talented indivudual since high school . I remember seeing him play in the band Ultimate Funk back when we were in high school on a daily basis. he was such a kind and upstanding person ,and his dedication to his client’s as well his coworker’ was admirable.
    He will always be in my heart as a brother and as a friend ……………………

    Rest in Peace…………..

    Terri R.

  8. I did not know Thee Ram personally, but I wish I did have the opportunity to meet him. What an exemplary life to lead!!! What he did was hard….helping to change someones life is hard work, let alone dedication. Playing bass is not easy either, yet he made it look simple. Accomplishments! I am sooooo glad that he got a chance to meet Bootsy, play with him and be signed to his label. I can only imagine the joy and pride he felt. I understand that Bootsy just loved him. That’s a reward for leading an exemplary life. I hope ALOT of people find out more about Mr. Brison legacy, and be inspired to do the same. May his family find peace in God regarding this matter, because through Thee Ram’s passing, someone IS going to come to Christ. All of our lives are to HIS glory.

    Play on in eternity Thee Ram.


  9. My husband and I have known Theron for over five years as they worked the NAMM show. Just this year, Theron played in my band as No’Fass on Bass, and we were just getting off the ground playing around Hollywood, and he was also so excited about his solo project with Bootsy, but took the time out to play with us asking for nothing. Not only did we lose a spiritual brother, but a vital part of our project which won’t be the same without him, which leads us down another path altogether because what we had left with him. He was always thinking of others and he was so giving, loving and spiritual. He always had something inspirational to say. This is just so heart-breaking.

  10. I was one of the lost souls that Theron guided. I wouldn’t have my son if it weren’t for him teaching me a better way of life. I was doubly blessed by him, his music is amazing. To those of him that knew him in his real life, I am incredibly sorry for you loss.

  11. Theron & I worked together closely in a non-profit coalition addressing teenage drug use. We had long coffees almost every week, planning agendas, testing ideas, and challenging each other to think more creatively to make it all work. In the meantime, we couldn’t help but have great fun and get closer. We connected so many ways, and I was expecting many many more deeply enriching years together. His passing is one of my greatest personal losses. The staff and regulars @ our usual Starbucks also join the rest of us in our loss. What a wonderful & solid man. We were all blessed to share with him, though not for nearly long enough. Gary Fowler, Pastor, First Christian Church, Hemet CA

  12. I was shocked and devastated to learn of Theron’s death. I too was one of the lost souls touched by Theron. My husband and I were both inspired by his firm, yet loving guidance. We are heartbroken that he will not be able to help others the way he helped us. I cannot believe that someone could do this to him, he was one of the kindest, most loving people I have ever known. He will be truly missed.

    1. I am beyond saddened by the loss of my friend, my brother and my brother in bass. I have to say that I have never nor will I ever meet another spirit that was Theron (Thee Ram Jam).Theron lived to share and love, that was the fuel of his soul. I have so many great memories of him. And I will never be with out that illuminating smile of his as I continue my journey through life, a journey that he definitely helped the very moment I was allowed to enter his space.

      Theron my brother may you continue to touch all whom you cross paths with no matter where the quest is now taking you.

  13. a senseless crime, leaving a gaping hole in our community. he will be missed by so many that he helped save, including myself. RIP Theron.

  14. Theron, my brother I will miss you dearly. Thanks for your love and all the blessings you left behind.
    I know you are with the Angels now.

  15. Theron was my friend and mentor he believed in the good of every one and gave every one the ability to be them self. I met him in 2000 while I was going to school to be a D/A counselor. He asked me to volunteer to do a men stag group and I have been working in the field ever since. He gave me the confidence to believe in others and in myself. My dearest friend will all-ways be in my heart and in my work. Ted and Theron took me under their wing we become best of friends, my prays go out to Ted and Theron’s family
    with love,

  16. Joyce and I had the great joy of working with Theron in MFI Prevention Services. He made us laugh out loud and enjoy more of life everytime he was with us. He was a true, kind person who made YOU want to be a better person. He will be sorely missed by all of us. Even though we were not part of his music personna we knew just how much he loved that part of himself. He will be missed by all who knew him. We have received many telephone calls today oferring their feelings about Theron and how much he touched their lives .

    Joyce Burleson and Kati Ford
    MFI Recovery Prevention Services

  17. I met Theron at the 2005 Summer NAMM show and spent the weekend hanging out with him, Jauqo III-X and Al Caldwell. His life story was inspirational, as was his bass playing (which was on par with Al and Jauqo). It saddens me to think that someone can work so hard to turn their life around for the better, discover they have a true gift, and that all of that good can be taken away by something as senseless as murder. I can only hope that Theron’s legacy grows over the years and that his inspirational life story sticks with it.

    1. Thank you Jauqo III-X for the updated link. We need to get the right person in jail and the innocent exonerated. At first, I never knew who Theron was. After some research, I found how talented he was and how sad to loose such a loving and talented person to a senseless act.

      Not one person ever said anything negative about Theron. May he rest in peace and justice take it’s course.

  18. Theron was the kind of guy that as soon as we met him, he felt like family. He not only helped us develop our SubWah pedal, patiently testing our beta models and providing his valued feedback; he also demo’d for us every year at the NAMM show. He was always smiling and positive, very talented, yet humble, and ready to do whatever he could to help. He also made some funny, funky demo videos for us as the TheeRam character, which were going to be promoted upon the full launch of his TheeRamJam project with Bootsy. If you want to check them out, you can find them on the gigfxpedals YouTube channel (see link below). We are so very sad that we won’t have the chance to continue our friendship and continue working with Theron in the future.

  19. Well said, Chris, he deserves to be remembered, I just hate it had to be with his death because he was just absolutely phenomenal; he had his own dreams and aspirations he was trying to realize which makes this all the more difficult to swallow. Jauqo, thanks for keeping us updated. I hope they indeed have the right person this time. Maybe we can do a little tribute for him at NAMM 2012.

  20. I was thinking about my buddy today and I have to say that I have never met any one nor do I know any one that has made me laugh as much as Theron.

    You were guaranteed laughter in the presence of Theron.

  21. Thumpin’ Theron a great friend and brother who shared his talent and love. Forever in my heart as we keep honoring the FUNK and bringing talent forward.
    October 20, 2011

  22. Very talented Bassist!!!! I admired his talent, & videos during my time at “FUNK UNIVERSITY”. Unbelievable talent. God needed him more.

  23. Theron was my friend, member of my chuch and brother Mason. I had temporarily moved to Lancaster so I did not find out about this trajedy until I returned to my church. I am heart-broken. He will be sorely missed. Travel light my brother.

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  25. “EXCLUSIVE: The Loss & Legacy of Thee Ram, His Identity Revealed, New Suspect in Custody
    as of 10/18 | FMN :: Funk Music News” Automatic Blinds was indeed a superb
    article. If merely there was way more websites such as this one on the actual cyberspace.
    At any rate, thanks a lot for your time, Tamela

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