Jason and Janet Mackenroth met in Rio band

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The song may have ended, but the love lives on.

At least for Jason and Janet Mackenroth whose love story began in the 1980s with Janet (Janet Coulter, at the time) joining band just to be close to him.

The high school sweethearts married and stayed married for as long as they had, including some of Jason’s worst (and final) years.

The two started dating in high school but were actually acquainted since third grade.

“We went to the same elementary school,” Janet said. “I had a crush on him since I knew him.”

After a brief separation, the couple having gone to different junior highs, they finally reunited in high school and found common ground in music.

In band class, Jason drummed and Janet played the flute, but Janet was more invested in her crush, Jason, than scales and chords.

“We didn’t actually talk until we went to Rio,” she said. “I even joined the marching band just so I could get close to him. That lasted eight months. I was pretty desperate.”

But when Janet gave up the chase and began courting a boy from her church, Jason realized what he’d been missing, and was not subtle.

“My phone rang and it was Jason,” she said

“I remember the conversation being very simple. We were just talking, and he invited me over to see his band,” said Janet, and this began regular visits.

In his room, Jason and friends would practice their instruments and try to impress Janet with mini concerts. It worked and soon, they were inseparable.

“We were introverts,” she said. “We would just spend every minute together on top of me sneaking out of my window to see him.”
A year older than Janet, Jason graduated in 1987. His yearbook senior quote was dedicated to her: “I never want to let you go, I want to hold you in my arms forever, I love you Janet with all my heart, never will we be apart.”

Janet’s certainty of her love for Jason is evident in her senior quote that reads simply, “I love you Jason.”

She wanted to attend the Percussion Institute of  Technology (a one-year vocational program that is part of the Musicians Institute) alongside him as he sought to launch a music career.

“I wanted to go to PIT in Hollywood with him, but my parents said I couldn’t unless we got married, so I was right out of high school planning a wedding and we took off,” said Janet. “We were just kids.”

Teen marriages don’t have a high success rate, but Janet and Jason maintained a mutual support through it all.

Jason’s success in music meant odd hours and long tours. He came to the attention of former Black Flag frontman Henry Rollins in 1989 while drumming with a trio called Mother Superior. Rollins produced two of the band’s albums and eventually asked the trio to join him in Rollins Band. In his six years with the band, Mackenroth played on seven albums and four world tours.

Mackenroth also played for several years in the early 2000s as a percussionist with the Blue Man Group in Las Vegas. He formed his band, Mack, with other Blue Man musicians.

During this time the couple raised two sons, Javan who is now in the Army and Joren, a senior in high school in Henderson, Nev.

“As we grew older,” she said, “whatever our interests were they didn’t grow apart, we were able to bring them together and they just worked. And I’m not gonna sugarcoat it, we fought just like other couples, but there was a compromise.”

During Jason’s final years, Janet became a caregiver as her husband’s health failed from prostate cancer. He died on Jan. 3 at the age of 46.

Janet plans to move back to Sacramento in April.

She may arrive in time to see the old band building before it is demolished this spring to make way for a new $12 million theater and music education complex.

The band room, the place where their story began, will be gone.

The song may have ended, but the love lives on.

But although his days were numbered, he and Janet were still real, not because of their long lasting adoration for each other, nor their strength in coping with such emotional trauma. What made them real was that they had these momentary disagreements and experienced this trauma in the first place. Having this love in its ugliest form brings out true character, and as sudden as Jason’s death was, his love for Janet was real.

And it all started here.

It’s no question that the school has produced plenty of success stories, but alumnus Jason Mackenroth’s ended too soon. On Jan. 3, this rock drummer and class of ’87 graduate lost a battle with prostate cancer at the age of 46.

A former member of our school’s band, Mackenroth was born in Sacramento, May 9, 1969. He was admired for his dedication to making music as he drummed and played saxophone for Rollins Band (1998-2004), was percussionist for the Blue Man Group in Las Vegas and led his own band, Mack.

His legacy lives through some of the Rollins band’s noteworthy songs like “Starlett” (2004) and “Pretty in the Morning” (2002), as well as his wife and two sons who believed in him from the beginning.

Mackenroth met his wife, Jaye, while they were in high school. His yearbook senior quote was was dedicated to her: “I never want to let you go, I want to hold you in my arms forever. I love you Janet with all my heart, and never will we be apart.”

According to her biography on “GoFundMe,” the two were together 31 years.

He first came to the attention of former Black Flag frontman Henry Rollins in 1989 while drumming with a trio called Mother Superior. Rollins produced two of the bands albums and eventually asked the trio to join him in Rollins Band. In his six years with the band, Mackenroth played on seven albums and four world tours, according to a band web site.

Mackenroth played for several years with the Blue Man Group in Las Vegas. He formed his band Mack with other Blue Man musicians. Mackenroth died at his home in Henderson, Nev., after a four year fight with cancer.

Jaye is now working part time because of health issues and needs funds to remain in Henderson until the couple’s younger son finishes high school in the summer.

Baring through medical difficulties, Mrs. Mackenroth intends to raise $25,000 in the hope of remaining in Las Vegas to see her youngest son graduate from high school in the summer.

If it isn’t much trouble, a donation on “GoFundMe” would greatly help the family through this traumatic period.

 

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