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Joseph Tobin: A One In A Million Man

Updated on January 6, 2019

My Buddy Joseph

On Sunday night March 6th, 2011, I had my first real cry since hearing the news that my good friend Joseph Tobin had passed away.

Strangely, how I found out I lost my friend was not ideal.  I received an invite to his Tribute concert on Facebook. I thought it was some kind of marketing ploy or perhaps he had so much support... I don't know, then I read that all the proceeds go to the family.

So I thought there was some kind of disaster, like a fire burned down the family home or some act of God and Chris Pierce, a friend of Joseph's and fellow musician had organized a fundraiser.

So I sipped my coffee on a Saturday morning in late February trying to "get" the joke. I called my buddy Joseph. There was no answer. In fact there was an automated message telling me he was unavailable. What the hell was going on?

I sent an email via Facebook to his long time girlfriend and another to a few friends that all knew Joseph... the email read simply, "call me"

Joseph Tobin: Green Eyes

Joseph Tobin "Ride WIth Me"

Joseph and I...

First met waiting tables at a restaurant in Studio City, CA. Mexicali Cocina Cantina. We hit it off pretty quick. He was funny, full of life, had a little edge and anger about him and was incredibly humble. Many of which were things we had in common. The full of life part was something I coveted. His energy and spirit was so strong and it was also incredibly contagious. We loved to laugh. Friends that you can laugh with are priceless.

One night in 2001, Joseph told me he was playing at Ghengis Cohen, a Chinese Restaurant and Bar in Hollywood. Joseph was so humble that even after having known him for a few months, this was the first time I had heard he was a musician. I thought he was like the rest of us, all trying to make it in Hollywood.

Joseph was an actor, but it seemed music had ignited his heartstrings

My girl and I went to see him play. From the moment he got started, I knew that I was watching a star. A real talent. A singer with a deep passion. Why isn't this guy on the radio yet??? I was totally blown away. Where did all this come from? Clearly this was not the same dude I waited tables with. This is as I soon found out, a common theme in Los Angeles and other big towns that also act as entertainment meccas. You meet so many talented people waiting tables, tending bar, telemarketing, selling, you name the industry and you'll sooner or later run into someone with a big dream.

Joseph, was not chasing celebrity though. Joseph was doing something he knew he had to do. Fame and fortune was clearly going to be a consequence of the action and certainly not the reason for the action.

I went from feeling pretty good about knowing this guy to completely honored that he even invited me in about 3 cords and the truth.

So, who was Joseph Tobin to me? A friend. Not a "best friend" because the world and the city and life tends to separate people. I get busy, you get busy. We all get busy. But let me tell you this, when you're with Joseph, he has this way of listening to you like you are his best friend and it becomes so easy to reciprocate.

Life goes on. The phone's right there the whole time and you're using it too, but are you calling the right people? The one's who need calling? Probably not and I'll bet you think about them every day and tell yourself you should but you don't. Next time you feel that way, pick up the damn phone.

I'm going to share with you some of my favorite memories about my friend Joseph Tobin.


All The Best Cooks Are Men!

Donny Brasco

This priceless gangster story has lines that probably still, to this day, hang in the air at Mexicali Cucina Cantina in Studio City. Many a night Joseph and I would break each other up quoting lines from Donny Brasco. Some nights I got to be Al Pacino and other nights Joseph got to be Al Pacino. Either way, Forgetaboutit was uttered multiple times on multiple nights and there was plenty of humor to go around.

Behind this was a deep appreciation for Al Pacino and Johnny Depp's portrayal of these two very real human beings embedded in a life that neither wanted to be in. Joseph and I had dreams that never involved waiting tables. I think deep down we identified with Lefty and Donny.

Then there'd be Joseph's funny usage of Italian slang. When he'd get a bad tip, he'd say something like:

"You know, that guy might as well have just given me a swift kick right in the "stugattz" with a tip like that. I ought to go out side and ask that guy, 'Hey buddy, why don't you come back and kick me right in the STUGOTS!"

Then we'd get really silly with it...

"Make sure to get a running start! Back up! No, no further... yeah, right there man. There you go. Now, c'mon, get a good running start... and let fly... right in the STUGOTS!"


Star Trek

Halloween 2001 or 2002 I'm not sure. I showed up to work in an authentic Southern Gentleman circa 1880's costume, Ala Doc Holliday. I'm kind of a perfectionist that way. I took my Halloween Costume that year a little too seriously. I'm going to look like I just walked off the set of Tombstone II, is what I was hoping for.

As I walked in proudly to work, I saw Joseph in his costume. He too aparentyl took his costume very seriously.

I actually stopped to take it in. There Joseph was, looking like he just stepped off the set of Star Trek in 1967. Perfect costume. Boots with the pants tucked in and then loosely pulled out, like in the series. Black pants. Yellow shirt, tucked in, just like Captain Kirk. He even styled his hair a little bit.

I was amazed by the authenticity. I walked up to Joesph and with excitement in my voice said "Hey, man! Great costume dude! That looks awesome. I didn't know you were a Star Trek fan. Bro, that looks great!"

Joseph turned and said, "Thanks!" With a huge smile and a Southern twang to it... he was also wearing those "Billy Bob Teeth."

This shocking bit of humor had me cracking up, not only for about an hour after, but well into the night. In fact, when I tried to tell my girl (who later became my wife) it took me about 15 minutes because I was laughing so hard...

I laughed so hard my stugots hurt...

A Day At The Races

One night while waiting tables we started coming up will silly names for racehorses. We started with a horse named "Neck-n-Neck" and then added another horse named "Comin-around-the-Corner"

From there it went downhill rather quickly, so if you're squeamish or too proper for a good old fashioned dirty joke, please scroll on down to the next part of the story...

The rest of the line-up was added throughout the course of the night.

The next horse was named "Your-Sisters-Ass" and that was quickly followed by "Look-At-The-Cock-On-That-One."

One of those resulted in missing a drink order and a pissed off customer due to uncontrolled laughter.

So that's 4 ponies so far. An average horse race can have 8-14 horses in it. We never got that high and somewhere in my files I wrote them all down. If I find it and have the exact roster of all the ponies, I will come back an update this...

Joseph Tobin "In Love"

Joseph Singing At My Wedding

My Wife's Engagement Ring and Our Wedding

Next time you think to yourself, "man, I wish I never worked there" or I wish I never... fill in the blank with any negative experience, Anytime you think about something and wish it never happened, consider this (because Mexicali wasn't necessarily a "positive" work environment) but if I hadn't have chosen to work there, I never would have met Joseph Tobin and I would have missed knowing such an amazing human being.

I've always said that within the hour of kissing my wife for the first time I knew. I knew the search was over and I was done shopping. That being said, I didn't want to rush anything and I also wanted to make sure I got it right, so I kept that info to myself.

Now, don't ask me for a specific date, but, at some point, early in my time spent working at Mexicali, I started trying to figure out how I was going to pay for an engagement ring.

Shortly there after, Joseph reaches into his pocket and shows me a wad of one dollar bills. He then proceeds to tell me that he puts all his ones in a shoe box at the end of the day. Sometimes it's a lot, other times, not so much, but after a while, he tells me, you can save a good chunk of change and hardly notice it.

Hmmmm.... I wonder... Do you ever have those moments where someone tells you something and you can't help but wonder if, even though, the words are coming from their mouth, if this might be God talking to you?

That's what happened there. I started saving my ones and that's how I paid for my wife's engagement ring.

In February of 2004, the 21st to be exact, I was honored and blessed to marry the love of my life. A few things that day were very important to my wife and I.  One of which was to make sure that somehow, someway, Joseph sang for us and everyone there.

My wife picked the song, it was by Savage Garden. The title, "I Knew I Loved You Before I Met You" It was funny too because Joseph busted my chops a bit for asking him to sing something so "poppy." Later on he told me that as he looked at the lyrics and started making the song his own that he understood why my wife picked it.

Thinking back and trying to remember your wedding day fully can be rather difficult. It's like the busiest most emotional day you can imagine. Thank God for video! One thing's for sure though, having Joseph sing at my wedding was an honor, treat and definitely a blessing.

Hurricane Alley

Aortic Disection

Sometimes living in Los Angeles can make friends that are so close, yet so far. After we both moved on from Mexicali, I got in the car business and invested more time into writing than acting. Joseph cut an album, went on tour and continued pushing for his dream which was now more a goal than a dream. For me, a dream is motivation and inspiration whereas a goal is more tangible. When a person converts a dream to a goal, they are that closer to attaining it.

The life of a struggling artist is always hard. It's trying, stressful and can take it's tool on the spirit. What a challenge it is to stay positive while nursing and pursuing "the dream."

On January 8th, 2011, Joseph Tobin passed away quietly in the evening. Ultimately, I would like to think that Joseph's passion for life, his music, his love for the world and everyone he encountered was more than his mortal body could handle.

Medically speaking, that's also known as an Aortic dissection. Your aorta is the largest artery in your body. It connects directly to the heart. The left ventricle to be exact. An aortic dissection occurs when there is a tear in the inner lining of the aorta, which can cause the other layers to compromise as well. If all the layers of the aorta rupture, massive and rapid blood loss occur. Statistically speaking, once when this happens, there's an 80% mortality rate.

I prefer my diagnosis better, but it's always good to understand the science. This is also how John Ritter passed. Aortic dissection is incredibly rare. Especially in someone as young as Joseph. Outside of trauma, there are a few causes. Hypertension is one and another would be a congenital defect in the aorta.

The John Ritter Foundation for Aortic Health is dedicated to increasing awareness in the areas of aortic dissection. There are links below if you'd like to do further research or make a donation.  If you choose to do so, please do so in Joseph Tobin's name.

Last But Not Least...

My buddy Joseph touched many lives with his music. I don't know about you the reader but I tend to believe that death is more of a transition than an end to things. I will not be so arrogant as to say I understand the inner workings of God and why certain things happen because so much of life AND death is a mystery.

Were we robbed of Joseph too soon? Who's to say? My thoughts on that is he can do far more good in an omnipresent environment then he ever could in this limited human body that is required to function under the laws of physics.

About 5 years ago, my friend Doug Brown passed away. He too was a musician and I had the privilege to speak at his funeral. I actually quoted Yoda. You know a film has had an impact on society when the wisdom of a Muppet gets quoted at a grown man's funeral... but here's the quote and I only say this because not only is it severely true for Doug, it is also incredibly true for Joseph and fortunately, I believe it is true for us all.

"Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter."

Think about it.

Joseph wrote a song called "One In A Million Man." The song was about his wanting to be that guy... a "one in a million man"

All I can say is; he was, he is, and he will always be.

You can get his album "Ride With Me" over on CD Baby. There's a link below. I not only recommend it, but I tripple-dog-dare you to buy this CD and not love it.

This is the work of a man who loved what he did so much that his body could not contain his spirit any longer. Owning this CD will lift your spirit and if you close your eyes at a stop light, just for second, you will feel the luminescence of a one in a million man.

Thank you Joseph for being my friend, for cracking me up so many times, for playing at my wedding and for enriching the lives of so many. You will continue to enrich the lives of many others from a much better vantage point.

Fair winds and following seas my friend...

Lyrics For One In A Million Man by Joseph Tobin

It's a stare down now

Between me and the homeless man outside

It's a stare down now

Between me and the homeless man and I

Will he beg me for change

Or is he praying for change

Could I take a minute of my precious time

And ask him his name

Or drop my coins and run

Like he's used to seeing done

Do I have the strength tonight

To look straight into his eyes

And take the risk to see his pain

To look deep into his old weathered eyes

And see what makes this old man cry

I want to be that one in a million man

Lord, help me be that one in a million man

That takes the time to change someone's day

And see the world how it really is.

It's a stare down now

Between me and this little kid and I right now

It's a stare down now

Between me and this little kid and I

It's a stare down now

With this little kid and I right now

It's a stare down now

Between this little child and

Will he tug at my shirt

With his hands caked in dirt

Should I nod and walk on by

Like the other giants might

Could I take a minute of my precious day

And ask him to play

Do I have the time right now

To get down on my knees

To see if this one knows his A-B-C's

To fall right down on my privileged knees

And see how high he can count for me

I want to be that one in a million man

Lord, help me be that one in a million man

That takes the time to break from his day

And spend the time where it's needed most

Cause I don't want to wake up

At 70 years old

And realize I have no story to be told

Cause I don't want to look back

And regret what I've seen

I hope when people look they see a man in me

And they say

That one there

Is a one in a million man

And they say

Look at that one there

He took the time

To be a one in a million man

It's a stare down now

With my reflection and I right now

It's a stare down now

With my reflection and I right now

Will I say that I've seen life

Or that it passed me by...


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    • David R Bradley profile imageAUTHOR

      David R Bradley 

      5 years ago from The Active Side of Infinity

      Mike - thank you for sharing and being a part of remembering Joseph and if you get to heaven before me, please save me a seat and have an empty glass waiting for me. It'll be an epic night!

    • profile image

      Mike Muhern 

      5 years ago

      I was a close friend of Joesph's the last few years of his life and I did read your article a couple years ago David but just was able to make it through it for the first time as it was simply too painful to read initially. It's like Johnny Mill mentioned above that you can hear him in your words and I think everyone that met Joseph knows that you were in the presence of just a truly special and loving guy that was simply magical to be around. He made me feel like moving to LA from Pittsburgh was no big deal and he was right. In fact he's the main reason I did move and a couple years later he was the only person I feared telling I was moving home. He made me laugh more than anyone I have ever met. Him and I would bust each others balls and crack up in the same moment. I got the pleasure of managing him during my time in LA and I just always felt like I don't deserve to be working with this amazing talent. How can he not be a star? He would pick up a guitar and write the catchiest thing you have ever heard almost effortlessly (far better than any shit on the radio) and his voice just stopped you cold in your tracks and made you sit up and pay attention. I saw it in rooms all over the country luckily enough for me. Think about how many of your favorite bands can do that? Not many if any. He deserved so much more. He should so still be here. While it's just beyond cruel to not have him with us anymore, and I could write about him all day long, what I do want to leave people with is the thought that we are all better off knowing Joseph. I know I am. I have an outtake of him recording a demo of MGMT's song 'Kids' with my brother and they are both laughing their asses off throughout it. I'm not much of a religious soul but I do hope there is a heaven so I can drink a glass of wine with my buddy again and hear him sing and laugh and give me a hard time about something....anything. Joseph is simply unforgettable and beyond missed by everyone who ever had the pleasure to cross his path. Much love.

    • profile image

      Brook Kelley 

      8 years ago

      Thank you for writing this. I was friends with Joe from my first day at CSUN. We spent everyday together for those four months and Joe was one of the greatest people I have ever met. I live in New York and like you said life gets in the way and sometimes you don't stay in touch with people like you should. I hadn't spoken with Joe in about four years but a few weeks ago I was thinking about him. I looked him up on youtube, figuring that with his talent there would be videos of him on there. I was excited to see that there was, but shocked to read about the tribute. I couldn't find any information until I came across this. I really appreciate it. He will be missed.

    • profile image

      gretchen Hoerdemann 

      8 years ago

      Thank you David for saying everything I do not have the strength to say right now. Joseph was and will forever be the love of my life, my soulmate, my best friend, and now my guardian angel. Life will forever be changed with out my walking angel in it. To those of who who didn't really know Joseph he was a tribute to what all men should exemplify their lives after. He NEVER said a bad thing about anyone. He always had everyones best interest in mind before his own. He made everyone that crossed his path feel special and like a human being. I truly can go on and on, but right now I can not control my tears and pain from reminiscing about him. Please continue to play his music, spread the word about his music b/c thru these avenues he will FOREVER be here with us. And finally to his sister Destiny and his Mother (Kathy) I want everyone to know what a bond the three of them had. His sister and mother have not just lost a brother and a son but truly their soulmate, their better half. Their bond is not like your typical brother sister relationship, and mother son relationship, they were each others best friends and even more...words can't describe their bond, but when I was in the presence of all (3) of them I loved to just sit back and take in there silly banter, there affection to one another, and the honesty that they could all be themselves without judgment with each other.

      I will write again when my mind is clear...hopefully sooner then later.

      Love - Gretchen

    • profile image

      Dalton Grant 

      8 years ago

      thank you so much for this tribute. Joseph was my best friend and songwriting partner. I, like Destiny, couldn't get through the whole thing but I read the first third or so. It just gets really hard to do. I have to thank you again for doing it though. It's obvious that Joseph touched you deeply as well. It's still hard for me to wrap my head around but knowing how he affected so many people helps the pain. Thank you.

    • profile image

      Destiny Rael  

      8 years ago

      Joseph is my best other half....and yes....a "one in a million man' in a million brother'....."one in a million friend"...."one in a million soul"............i have no words to express....the grief and pain is so hard to bear....i skimmed through this...with guilt because i can't see photos right now.....but i have to thank you for not only the amazing tribute in words, honor with your of his music and awareness of the cause of him taken soooo suddenly and soon.....i have to comment. i have to express and just.....i don't know....i googled my brother's name today.....i was sickened by the posts that made this so real....i guess i am in denial....avoidance still.....but yet, trying to handle his robotic form.....and my plan today was to get inspiration for a bring awareness to his music and cause........which i WILLLLLL DO. but for now...this is a start......thank you david......for all the other posts....please stay connected....I will have a foundation in honor of my brother soon!...thank you....

    • profile image

      Destiny Rael  

      8 years ago

      Joseph is my best other half. and yes....a "one in a million man' in a million brother'....."one in a million friend"...."one in a million soul"............i have no words to express....the grief and pain is so hard to bear....i skimmed through this...with guilt because i can't see photos right now.....but i have to thank you for not only the amazing tribute in words, honor with your of his music and awareness of the cause of him taken soooo suddenly and soon.....i have to comment. i have to express and just.....i don't know....i googled my brother's name today.....i was sickened by the posts that made this so real....i guess i am in denial....avoidance still.....but yet, trying to handle his robotic form.....and my plan today was to get inspiration for a bring awareness to his music and cause........which i WILLLLLL DO. but for now...this is a start......thank you david......for all the other posts....please stay connected....I will have a foundation in honor of my brother soon!...thank you....

    • profile image

      Dorris (Keener) Karlman 

      8 years ago

      David Bradley...thank you for this tribute and out-pouring of your love for Joseph. I never got to know him as a man, but was a part of his life as a child back in Texas. Even then there was something about him that touched the heart and soul of all he met. I was sad when I learned of his death, but today YOU gave way to a flood of cleansing tears and I grieved. I too think you must be a "One In A Million Man". May you be blessed with your heart's desires. Rest in Peace Joseph. You are loved.

    • profile image

      Silvio E 

      8 years ago

      God bless all you guys.its sad that good arties go so soon..

    • profile image

      J. Mill 

      8 years ago

      It is so great to read this knowing Joe. All the jokes and references; I see him and hear his voice while reading this and can't help but laugh and cry at the same time. I too worked with Joe for years at Boa and had the privilege to shoot the "green eyes" and "in love" videos. He definitely was a one in a million man. Thank you for sharing!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      what a wonderful, touching funny way to honor your friend....thanks.

    • Themoontickets profile image


      8 years ago from USA

      Good for reading! Nice article!

    • Marianne Byers profile image

      Marianne Byers 

      8 years ago from Central California

      Dear David,

      Just want to say I love you and thanks for sharing the story of your friendship with Joseph. I look forward to listening to his music. xoxoxoox

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      David....Thank you for sharing your beautiful thoughts...our friends are blessings...I am glad Joseph was your blessing...-Anne

    • vrbmft profile image

      Vernon Bradley 

      8 years ago from Yucaipa, California

      Thank you, David. You too are one in a million man for so many many many reasons, and I am so honored to be a "part" of your life, to say I know you, that I have been privileged to watch you grow from inside Roberta's womb, to being the wonderful dreamer and "goalee" that you are. You are a great friend to so many and I so appreciate your loyalty to your friends and your love for them. THANK YOU FOR SHARING WITH ALL OF US these memories of Joseph.

      My totally sirendiptious moment with Joseph is when he parked your jeep, then his jeep, across from where Dianna and I were camping (on PCH). I can't remember if they were having car trouble and walked across the highway to ask us for help or what the deal was, but what were the chances of that happening? I think they came into our campsite and we visited for awhile.

      FRIENDS, best or just plain ol' good friends are so precious and I am so happy you have both.

      Thanks again for sharing Joseph here on Hubpages especially for sharing with us his music. I did not get to hear much of Joseph's music except at your wedding, so this is a treat.

      I love you, David,



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