April 13, 2024
R.I.P. former 21st Century Goliath bassist Cameron Ayers (1989-2024)

R.I.P. former 21st Century Goliath bassist Cameron Ayers (1989-2024)

Photo by Mare Board

Sleaze Roxx is sad to report the death of former and original 21st Century Goliath bassist Cameron Ayers who passed away at the age of 35 after a battle with cancer. Ayers was born on February 7, 1989 and passed away on February 16, 2024 leaving behind his wife Ashley and son Wylder.

Ayers played in 21st Century Goliath from 2010 to 2014 and played on the group’s debut album Radio Destroyer, which ended up at #7 on the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2012.

In an interview with Sleaze Roxx back in November 2014, 21st Century Goliath band founder Scott Roby recalled how Ayers ended up in the band. “Cam was the first actual original member of the band, so that means he was the first guy that I found. When he came in he didn’t know very much about the bass, but he had a lot of heart and was willing to learn so I took him under my wing. I actually didn’t give him the job in the band — I started giving him lessons first. I told him, ‘Well man, you’re probably not sharp enough of a bass player to be in the band but I will give you lessons and then see how it goes. If I don’t come across any better, if you pick it up or if you catch on fire, then you’re in the band. If not, at least you can go forward knowing what you’re doing with that thing next time you go to an audition.’ So he was there with bells on and he came out and got lessons from me — he got better and improved over time.”

21st Century Goliath‘s “Life’s A Bitch” video (from Radio Destroyer album) filmed at the World Famous Milestone Club in Charlotte, North Carolina on 11/1/2013:

There have been a lot of comments about Ayers passing away including from 21st Century Goliath fill in guitarist Alex Stiff who indicated on February 21, 2024:

21st Century Goliath photo by Mac Kotas

“When I got the news yesterday, it really didn’t seem real.

I wanted to say something then, but didn’t have the words .. and I still don’t.

We annoyed the fuck out of each other, but we were both shit head rockers, it was just par for the course. We laughed hard, partied hard, and bickered hard .. but damn did we have some fun.

One of my most vivid memories involved Cam in a big way; the band 21st Century Goliath had won a battle of the bands contest to open for SLASH in Cincinnati OH, and I was filling in for a few months / a year on guitar so I was lucky enough to play that show with them. We got the “rockstar treatment” from start to finish .. plane tickets, limo, 3 hotel rooms, roadies, the works. I remember standing in the hotel room with Tony Leone and Grayson Flippin taking shots of Evan Williams (ughhhh) just taking in the moment, when Cameron Ayers taps me on the shoulder, clinks his shot glass with mine and said “we made it buddy”. That was the first time I felt a genuine connection with him and we really bonded on that trip.

The next morning Tony had to catch a separate flight as he was not coming back to Charlotte with us, so I kinda had the responsibility of making sure everyone else got on the plane in time and without any major hiccups. As I was checking with everyone that they had their tickets and bags were free of any contraband, Cam finds an unopened bottle of Evan Williams in his bag as we pull up to the airport nice and early in the morning … damnit Cam 🫠 but that was no obstacle as he hopped right out of the limo, cracked it open, took a few good chugs, then tossed it out .. “good to go!” with a huge smile on his face. That’s the shit I will always remember.

We reconnected a few years ago and he really made me proud; a legit businessman with a head full of great ideas, and a clear mind to make it all happen. We wanted to do some stuff together, but life always seemed to get in the way. I really hate that. I really do. Cam was truly one of a kind, and I’m really gonna miss him .. I guess life really is a bitch.

Rest easy buddy, I’ll grab that bottle from ya later.

Fuck cancer.”

Photo courtesy of Kenneth Osborne

Sleaze Roxx reached out to Ayers‘ former 21st Century Goliath bandmates — Tony Leone (lead vocals), Scott Roby (guitar), Grayson Flippin (guitar) and Adam Ellis (drums) — who played with him on Radio Destroyer as well as to Kenneth Osborne who roadied for the band including a 40-day tour that saw the group play numerous states in the United States of America from North Carolina in the east all the way to California in the west. All of the band members graciously provided some thoughts about Ayers while Osborne provided many photos.

Scott Roby — “I’m sorry to hear of his passing. My heart goes out to his family and friends for their loss. I can’t imagine what they might be going through. I couldn’t speak about the man he grew to be over this last decade, but when I knew him he was a good-hearted kid with a hilarious sense of humor. He loved music and he loved performing, and I suppose he will always be that fun-loving kid to me.”

Grayson Flippin — “Cam was a great guy man. He was hard headed and business minded and loyal almost to a fault. He was dedicated to performing and giving 100% every time we played no matter how many or how few were there. He was like a brother to me and the guys and he will always be a legend to me. One night in Gatlinburg, he got arrested for jaywalking that night. We had just played at the Hard Rock Cafe as part of a contest and we hit the town and got pretty rowdy. He made sure to tell us to come get him in the morning but of course we partied all night and woke up late [laughs]. He was mad but he wasn’t. He understood and that’s just the kind of guy he was. He was a rocker through and through. He had big dreams all about rock n’ roll and traveling and being the greatest band in the land. It was always an adventure for him everywhere we went. He was great to have around.”

Photo courtesy of Kenneth Osborne

Adam Ellis — “It’s sad news for all of us that still doesn’t seem real. He was a great guy who would give you the shirt off his back, one of the good ones. My heart goes out to his family.”

Tony Leone — “Cam was truly one of a kind. I was the last piece to the puzzle with the band and I remember Roby telling me that Cam couldn’t play guitar at all. But he told Cam if he really wanted to, he’d teach him. Roby said Cam knocked on his door like the next day and so the story goes, he taught him enough to be a musician. Cam was not the best bassist by any means, but he WAS the one of best rock n roll cats I had ever met. When you spend countless hours together in vans, rehearsal rooms, studios, bars, venues etc, you get to know someone pretty well. Cam was always one of the most down to earth, nicest, and just purest people I have ever known.

Photo courtesy of Kenneth Osborne

Most people saw the wild man, but behind it all was the hard working, always calm, natured man I had come to love. What most people don’t know is when 21st Century Goliath ended, Cam would reach out to me for sales help. Like the bass, I said, ‘If you’re willing to come over and learn, I’ll teach you.’ He did just that. He sat at my home office for hours and listened to everything I had to teach him. He became [the] top sales person in his branch as a result. He carried that same energy to start his own roofing business right up to his diagnosis. He fought hard like he did for everything. For his wife, his newborn, he gave it all. That’s the Cam I know and love and I will miss him.”

Thank you  and to all the 21st Century Goliath members’ input and assistance in getting this tribute article to Cameron Ayers put together and as well as to to Kenneth Osborne for all the photos from 21st Century Goliath‘s historic 40-day tour.

21st Century Goliath performing “No Gold” live at Amos’ Southend in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA on September 26, 2014 (video from Ron Buckingham‘s YouTube page):

21st Century Goliath‘s “Life’s A Bitch” video — filmed at Food Lion Speed Street in uptown Charlotte, North Carolina, USA on May 25, 2012:

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