Ramon Mallow was a self-proclaimed hippie. People knew him as Mr. Troll in the Dallas-Fort Worth music scene, a moniker from his old biker days. His family called him Danny, after his middle name Daniel.
His sister Faye Price said she always called her brother a bohemian. He prided himself on being a footloose and fancy adventurer, dedicated to the concept of being the ultimate hippy.
True to form, he was even a part of a group called The Original Fry Street Hippies in Denton, which would meet once a month. It's a bunch of people who hung out together through the ’60s and ’70s, Mallow told the Observer last year.
On Tuesday, June 9, Mallow’s family announced on his Facebook page that he had died.
The post read: “On behalf of the family of Troll Mallow, we regret to inform you that he has left this earth. May he Rest In Peace on his new journey. Arrangements are pending and will be posted once finalized.
“He will be greatly missed and forever loved as a legend in his own time.”
Most people knew him from Poor David’s Pub in Dallas, where Mallow hosted the open mic nights. He eventually passed the torch to local musician Rob Case and began working the door at Poor David’s, wearing his signature white, long beard and thick mustache. He also kept a record of every active open mic in DFW, through a Facebook page called Dallas Open Mic, an enormous resource to aspiring musicians.
Mr. Troll was living in a hotel in 2017 when he started concocting plans to buy a motorhome with inheritance money from his dad’s death and go wherever life took him. His only retirement plan was to make a living off playing his music. He had an ongoing joke that he was on a "Going Nowhere" tour as he played consistently — yet locally.
Playing music, being around people playing music and being free gave Mallow’s life meaning, Case said. These things were taken away from Mallow in 2018 after he suffered two strokes.
The strokes affected some of his cognitive abilities, and he lost a lot of mobility in his left arm. As a result, he couldn’t drive and it was nearly impossible for him to play a chord on the guitar.
“I had hoped to make an impression on the world as a singer-songwriter,” Mallow told the Observer last year.
He certainly left an impression on the music scene. He had many good stories — like the time he arm wrestled David Lowery on a movie set — and recommendations on rising artists.
David Card, the owner of Poor David’s Pub, organized a benefit show for Mallow after his strokes, including some of Mallow’s old singer-songwriter friends.
When Case first met Mallow, he was recovering from a stroke himself. Case went out to Poor David’s for one of their open mics. He brought a notebook with all of his lyrics in it and asked Mallow if the venue had a music stand.
“He said, ‘What, you don’t know the words to your own songs yet?’” Case recalls. “‘I did, but I forgot them all when I had a stroke.’”
Case says Mallow apologized and found him a music stand. “He was very comforting after that,” Case says. “From there we became strong acquaintances and, over the years, good friends.”
The family is still working out the details, but Price said a memorial service will be held for her brother at Poor David's in the near future.
Although Mallow couldn’t play and sing after his stokes, his friends still took him out to watch them perform. They’d take him to places like Poor David’s and Opening Bell Coffee.
Before Steve Jackson took over, Mallow was the host of Opening Bell’s open mic night for a couple of years starting in 2006.
Pascale Hall, the owner of Opening Bell, says during Mallow's time as the open mic host, he took interest in the music and the person behind the mic. Hall describes him as kind-hearted, soulful, loving and a killer songwriter.
"He cared greatly about the live music scene, people in general and really was just a kind human," Hall says. "The world lost a good one."
One of the people he met at the shop during this time was Kristy Krüger, a local singer-songwriter. She was a barista there at the time. On some nights, there were empty time slots during the open mic, so Mallow would play a few extra songs.
Mallow always said, "I have minimum talent and maximum balls."
But Krüger says she never thought that was true. "You have maximum talent and maximum balls," Krüger would tell him. Whenever she thinks of Mallow, all she can remember was how kind and loving he was. "I don't have a bad thing to say about him."
Jackson had just ended a long break from performing music when he met Mallow. The two got to know each other well over the years. He said Mallow was a hell of a songwriter.
“His lyrics are as down-home and heartfelt as they get,” Jackson says.
Jackson’s favorite song by Mallow was called “Dreams.”
At the Tuesday open mic after Jackson’s last birthday, he walked up to the stage at Opening Bell to find a guitar case. Musicians are supposed to set their gear backstage.
“[Mallow] comes up to me and says ‘Hey, I got your birthday present,’” Jackson recalls. “He pointed at the guitar case. I opened it up and it’s a Taylor guitar, a $2,000 guitar.”
It was Mallow’s.
“‘I want you to have this. I can’t play it anymore, so I want you to have it,’” Mallow told Jackson.
He refused at first, but Mallow wouldn’t take no for an answer. Eventually, Jackson finally told him he would hang on to the guitar, but if he ever wanted it back it was his.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, Opening Bell was hosting its open mic online. Last week, they were supposed to have their first in-person open mic since the pandemic, but it was delayed due to the recent curfew in Dallas.
This Tuesday, just hours before the rescheduled open mic, Jackson got the call about Mallow. As Jackson got the night started, he told the audience about his predecessor.
“He passed away this morning,” Jackson said. “He was an icon, and he’s going to be sorely missed.”
Opening Bell will often host tribute shows for musicians who have recently died. Usually, they’ll invite a bunch of people out to play that artist’s music. From 8-9 p.m. on June 16, the shop will have a bunch of Mallow’s old friends out to play his songs in his memory. Krüger will be performing Mallow's song called "Baby Sez," one of hers and Hall's favorite songs by him.
If Jackson could talk to him one more time, he says he would tell Mallow: “Stick to your plan. You’ll get through all this. Just remember, there’s a lot of people around here that love you.”
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