Kid Rock's Joe C. Dies

ByABC News
November 21, 2000, 2:27 PM

November 17 -- To those who only heard him on albums or saw him on stage, Joe C. who died Thursday night in his sleep was the animated, foul-mouthed foil in Kid Rock's Twisted Brown Trucker band, a nimble rapper and spirited prankster who, though he just stood 3 feet, 9 inches, was as forceful a personality as pop music had to offer.

To his bandmates, however, there were far more dimensions to Joe C.'s character. "Spiritually, he was on a different plane, the way he touched everyone's life," says guitarist Kenny Olson, who shared hotel rooms with C. when the band was on tour and slept in the bunk above him on the tour bus.

"He was always there to say the right thing, help me make sense to myself when I was acting up on the road. Joe was real, said what was on his mind. He was a very, very smart person, very tuned-in. In my opinion, he was taller than the rest of us."

C. born Joe Calleja died at his parents' home in Taylor, Mich., following a lifelong battle with Celiac disease, a painful intestinal disorder that each day required him to take 65 pills and hook up to a dialysis machine. The degenerative disease was also responsible for stunting his growth and made it difficult for him to spend long stretches on the road with the band.

C. was found Friday morning by his mother. He had celebrated his 26th birthday Nov. 9.

In a statement, Kid Rock reported to be extremely shaken by C.'s death said, "Family and friends are everything; without them, all of the fame and fortune means nothing. We have lost part of our family. Joey gave us, and the world, his love. He brought a smile to everyone who has ever known or seen him.

"In a world full of confusion, Joey made all of us laugh. No matter what color, religion, race, or beliefs we have, he made us all smile. He gave us the gift of joy. Joey, thank you. We will never forget you. We love you."

C. began to raise eyebrows after he met Rock and joined Twisted Brown Trucker during the early '90s. With his diminutive stature and high-pitched voice, many who initially saw him thought it was Rock's son onstage, rapping about the size of his penis one of the many things that established C. as "the essence of Rock's whacked-out carnival," according to SPIN.