The theme for the funeral last week for the man his fans sometimes called the King of Karaoke was, of course, music.
A guitar draped in auburn flowers stood next to the coffin of Jerry Annan, 47, on Wednesday at an El Monte funeral home. Annan was shot and killed in an apparent robbery attempt as he left a singing job at a club in Lakewood on Nov. 20. As about 200 mourners filled the chapel pews, a tape played Annan's voice crooning "My Way" by Frank Sinatra and "Amazing Grace."
His manager took the podium to recite the song that his client had written and sung on a radio program only weeks before: "The Old Man and the Ragged Old Flag."
Annan, a resident of Temple City, was known throughout the nightclub circuit in the San Gabriel Valley and elsewhere in the Southland as "Jerry Bobby-Bob Eugene."
He had once given up music to make a living cleaning carpets. But he came back to the business through karaoke, the sing-along system that first gained popularity in Japan, said bassist Rick Hon, who knew Annan for more than 20 years.
"One thing about Jerry, he always made friends with everyone he played with," the musician added.
But even a man as popular and well liked as Annan, who friends say had no enemies they knew of, could fall victim to violence.
Annan's body was found at 4 a.m. Nov. 20 outside The Hideaway in Lakewood. Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department investigators said he was shot in the face by robbers who made off with his truck loaded with audio equipment he used in his work. Detectives said there were no suspects.
Annan leaves his wife, Lisa, their two young daughters, and two older sons and a daughter from previous marriages.
A number of fellow musicians and people who knew him only through his charismatic performances at karaoke clubs are also left to ponder their loss.
Pat Theriault, who met Annan at The Hideaway just a month ago, recalled how the singer had come in and joined the group, buying them drinks and singing with them--even crooning "Happy Birthday" for one of their daughter.
"He was just an all right guy," he said.
Musicians are planning a benefit performance at Legends, a club in Duarte, next Sunday to help defray funeral costs, said Harry Fink, a guitarist who performed with Annan from time to time for 22 years.
And they plan to keep Annan's dream of becoming a professional songwriter and performer alive by working to get his songs and recordings more on-the-air exposure.
"He'd worked all his life for his dream. He wasn't going to give up," said Matt Stuber, Annan's cousin and a songwriter, who lives near Sacramento. "We're going to do all we can to make that dream come true."
Annan had played at many benefits for MIA and POW organizations for U.S. veterans.
"On behalf of the Monterey Park American Legion, I thank him for his activism," said Frank Arcuri, who Annan had worked with at a 1987 veterans rally. "He was very patriotic. He wasn't a veteran, but he supported what they stood for."
The senselessness of Annan's murder affected many of the mourners Wednesday.
"Many felt like coming to arms. I was one of them. But Jerry wouldn't have wanted it that way," said one man who asked that his name not be used. He said he had known Annan for 15 years, since the singer's confirmation as a Christian. "I'm just very happy I knew the man."
Bitterness directed at the unknown killers would contradict Annan's way of life, friends concurred.
"His songs were always upbeat, positive, funny," Stuber said. "He knew how to . . . make people feel good, even when they didn't want to."
Then he shook his head, reflecting on what had brought him to the funeral home.
"This is as senseless as it gets," he said.