„It always hits the wrong ones and too early, anyway…“, Asatru sang it already on their first album and it couldn’t be more true than in the tragic case of Hammer Joe Rowan. His actions were selfless, marked by courage and a sense of duty, and his victim was unforgotten. Joe did this, for which many people would probably lack the courage. On a tragic night of fate, there was a clash with some blacks. Joe stood protecting his comrades and was shot cowardly by Naseer Ghani. Joe Rowan left behind his wife and child, unpunished the crime and the perpetrator still free. We would like to continue to honor this tamer man, with the kind permission of the former editor of Nordwind Magazine, we present this personal report about Joe Rowan Online. You have gone but never forgotten. Rest in peace, Joe Rowan!
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On October 22, 1994, more than 11 years ago * „Hammer“ Joe Rowan was shot by a black man named Naseer Ghani. Some will no longer know the name Joe Rowan, some will still associate him with the band Nordic Thunder, others know about the tragic circumstances of his death, others he has become a legend.
* according to the time calculation at that time when this article was written.
There is a cover of tribute songs, news and also the annual Hammerfest in the USA is dedicated to him. And yet I would like to review his much too short life once again. This summary was written by Bob, the former bassist of Nordic Thunder, later Blue Eyed Devils and now Teardown:
I first met Joe when I was about 19. And in the three years we knew each other a good friendship developed. We were both members of the Hammerskin Nation and played together in Nordic Thunder. So we had a lot to do with each other. On the weekends he practically lived with us.
I have great memories of the numerous rehearsals with Nordic Thunder, The Voice and Aggravated Assault. We used to rehearse in my mother’s house, which regularly turned into a full weekend party. They were great parties, we were all good friends and we had a great time. Joe used to build up his portable tattoo and we always got stung by him afterwards. Everyone knew Joe and everyone who knew him loved him.
Joe was the ideal of an ideologically established skinhead. Fearless, having a level of knowledge and 100% dedicated to the cause. He was the driving force that united all local groups. He was a member of Eastern Hammer Skins (EHS) and Atlantic City Skinheads (ACS). He was also friends with many other groups and organizations. And when there were differences between the groups, Joe was always the reassuring link.
The weekend parties were attended by comrades from EHS, ACS, Delaware Crew, Pensylvania Skins and many others and there were rarely problems. Joe was definitely the common factor that was quickly noticed after his death. The whole unity and camaraderie broke apart afterwards. The groups started with their old rivalries and the gang mentality started again.
Joe never believed in this superficial cheese between the various groups and I remember that he took sides in disputes at concerts between different groups. He knew that the real enemy was outside our movement and strongly condemned quarrels and struggles within, between like-minded people. It is shameful to see today how quarrels and envy rule.
Joe was always loyal to the cause and his friends. But he was also full of life. He was the entertainer at every party, extremely funny and thrilling. You never had a bad time with Joe. He always made jokes and was always able to get the best out of a bad situation. This made it very difficult for us to cope with his death. Such a joyful person, generous and friendly did not deserve to be ripped out of life so early. The old cliché is unfortunately very true: „Only the best die young“.
Besides his friendly nature he was also a great singer. He was a natural talent. I was in many bands and Joe was by far the most tarnished for singing. He knew music very well and knew a lot of different bands. He preferred the old XX Oi bands.
He often started singing the French stuff out loud and we thought he was crazy. But he had a sense for melody. He had a natural talent for singing and his own style. He just knew how to sing. After some practice I can say without reservations that he was the best.
But he was not the original singer of Nordic Thunder. My brother and I had formed the band a year before. We were dissatisfied with the original singers and were looking for a better replacement. We were members of the EHS in Baltimore and he belonged to the EHS Chapter in Philadelphia. Through this connection we met Joe and so our great time and good music began. With Nordic Thunder we released 2 full CDs. Of all these tracks Joe only wrote the lyrics to „Cold hard facts“. Therefore it makes this song something special. He wrote this lyric after being arrested for illegal possession of weapons and facing trial in Delaware. He was imprisoned for a month or two and wrote this lyric during that time. We started recording for the new Nordic Thunder in the summer of 94, which would later be called F**** S****. When he was murdered, we were still recording the disc and hadn’t agreed on a name yet.
Joe was murdered on 01 October 1994, just 22 years old. I was not present when he died. I heard all the stories. At a supermarket it came to disputes between some skinheads and some blacks. One of the blacks then pulled a small caliber gun and started shooting. Everyone tried to move into cover. So did Joe, who got a bullet in his back. I heard that daß´er died immediately.
How could one die by the shot of a small caliber weapon? It looks like Odin, God or whoever considered Joe too good for this world and took him to himself.
Of course, Joe wasn’t free of mistakes either. He was a human being and therefore he was not perfect. But the way he behaved and his behavior outweighed every dark side. It was a huge shock to hear of his death. The thought of losing someone so extremely valuable and energetic was unbearable. The funeral was very depressing. At least 100 comrades and his family came. The ceremony was full of grief. Joe’s influence on my life was so enormous and his death such a drastic experience that I sometimes dream of him even today. Listening to Nordic Thunder, and especially „Cold hard facts“ still triggers strong emotions in me today.
He was a very important figure in my life and he was an even more important person for our cause. I never met anyone like him again. He was always loyal and it was a pleasure to have him around. The people who never had the chance to meet him can believe me when I say that he was a great person.
He was really a unique personality and his death made him a martyr for our cause. He gave his life in a fight against enemies of our nation. He had values, honor and loyalty like few others in our movement. Although he was not the greatest or strongest, he did not avoid any struggle. He stood against the system and fought every day for his faith. The thing lost on 01 October 1994 an extraordinary person.