Last night there was a podcast dedicated to my late friend Dan Duchaine. It was put on by OFF TOPIC Radio and featured yours truly, Pat Arnold, Mike Mooney, John Romano, Millard Baker, as well as other guests to talk about the first true “guru” in bodybuilding. Dan was a pioneer, a nut, a unique thinker, a genius, a total trouble maker, a weirdo, to name a few traits of his. If you don’t know who Dan was, you don’t know sh%& about bodybuilding and who was the true pioneer in “chemical enhancement” as well as supplements. For better or for worse, he probably had a greater impact on all sports then any single person who ever lived. A bold claim, but true. You can listen to the show here:
Here’s what I wrote about Dan shortly after he died
January 14, 2000 - I sit looking out the window of my office watching the snow fall and write this article with a heavy heart. Dan “the guru” Duchaine passed away in his apartment in Southern California January 12th, 2000. He was 48 years old.
The very word enigma was designed with Dan Duchaine in mind. Even his closest friends were never sure what side of Dan they would see. The outside world only saw one side, that of the mad scientist steroid guru looking for a way to shock the world with a new idea or discovery. Dan’s contribution to the sports and bodybuilding industry stretches much farther than most people realize and few are willing to give credit for his genius. I don’t use the term genius lightly. Love him or hate him, Dan Duchaine was one of the smartest people I have ever known. Without so much as a high school biology course under his belt, he understood concepts and theorized on aspects of human nutrition, biology, and chemistry that would leave many scientists speechless. He was not always correct in his theories, but his ability to open up new avenues of thought on a topic was unrivaled and unequaled. His creativity and curiosity in approaching a topic was his greatest strength, and he knew it. For better or for worse, Dan has probably had more effect on the sports supplement industry than any single person.
Dan’s public life regarding his legal problems, jail sentences, and out spoken views on steroids and other performance enhancing drugs are well known, so I won’t beleaguer his memory with those facets of his life here. What most people don’t know about Dan is that he had many sides to him no one would have ever expected. Dan had very few people in the world he considered close friends, and I was honored enough to be considered one of them. He was one of the most generous people I have ever met and was a very kind person in fact. He would lend money to friends in need never really expecting to be paid back. He paid all the bills for his only living relative, an aunt who resides in Maine. Dan had a sense of humor that could only be described as wicked and brilliant. Readers could get a glimpse of that humor in the many articles he wrote over the years in countless publications. Dan was more like a devious ten year old boy than an adult man at times. The world seemed to bore Dan, and like many ten year old boys, he would often entertain himself by making trouble. Most people thought he did it to be mean spirited, but I knew he did it out of some devious need for excitement. He would often tell others some bit of information which a friend had asked him to keep as a secret. When confronted with this he would often say “Well, yes I did it, but I just had so much fun doing it I could not resist!” and break into laughter. It was hard to stay mad at him. There was the time he stood up in a seminar of over 200 people and informed them that Mike Mentzer had just died. The room was aghast by the sudden news. When people found out it was not true, they were angry at Dan. Dan maintained a “good source” had told him about Mentzer’s demise just before leaving for the seminar. I knew better and accused him of just making it up to entertain himself and cause more trouble. He gave me a devilish grin and refused to speak about it. To me, Dan was a mixture of Andy Kaufman and Albert Einstein, with some Bart Simpson thrown in.
Dan tried to give off the persona of that of an uncaring loner, but nothing could be further from the truth. Dan loved children and it was one of his greatest wishes to be a father some day. I recall him telling me how much he wanted to be a father as we drove down the highway one sunny afternoon in LA. “What?” I said “the Steroid Guru want’s to be a father?” “Yes Will,” he replied, “more than anything in the world.” Sad to say, that wish never came true. Dan had many plans for the future and many talents most people were unaware of. He had recently started a small bike building company and had plans to build a new type of hybrid bicycle he had designed himself. The truth be known, Dan was sick to death of the bodybuilding industry and confided in me that if the bike business took off he would be happy to never write another article as long as he lived. Dan and I had also been working on producing a TV show together and he had made good contacts for pursuing that. The show was going to be sort of a crazy hybrid fitness show and 50′s style variety show with plenty of hot fitness babes thrown in for good measure (and ratings!). Dan had many hobbies and talents people never knew about and that was fine with Dan. He was a very private person, though not because he didn’t like people but because he didn’t know who liked him. He always felt like the odd person out. In an industry of unique individuals, Dan was the most unique of individuals.
As for what happened to Dan, Dan died in his sleep at his apartment from what appears to be natural causes. He was found Thursday, Jan. 13th by his close friend Shelley Hominuk. As most people know, Dan had always had various health problems throughout his life. He was born with polycystic kidney disease, a genetic defect that often leads to kidney failure. While in prison years ago, Dan suffered a small stroke which he recovered from. Last year, he had gallbladder problems which turned out to be gallstones and a possible ulcer. Most recently, Dan had been suffering with the flu which had plagued him for weeks. His health declined and his bodyweight dropped drastically. Typical of stubborn Dan, he refused to go to the hospital. When he didn’t answer his phone, Shelley became concerned and went looking to see if he was all right. Of course the rumor mill will try and place Dan’s death on some more mysterious cause, but by all accounts, including both the police and coroner’s report, Dan died of natural causes. Dan is, and will always be, my friend. Wherever you are Dan, I know you are making trouble and laughing at all of us. The world will not be the same without The Guru, Dan Duchaine.
More on The Dan Duchaine Situation
Hello all. As you all know, Dan Duchaine died of complications related to Poly Cystic Kidney disease last week. Many people have contacted me asking if there was a place they could send flowers or donate money to charity. So, I have set up a special fund with the National Kidney Foundation under Dan’s name.
Those interested in donating money to this fund can send it to:
The Dan Duchaine Memorial Fund
c/o Steve Evangelista,
National Kidney Foundation,
129 Morgan Drive,
Norwood MA, 02062
This money will be directed toward research for people who suffer from Poly Cystic Kidney disease and I believe are tax deductible donations. I have opened the fun with $250.00 of my own money. Please feel free to pass this email around to others who are not on my mailing list but may be interested in this info. If you have a web site, feel free to post this on your site and/or send it out to people on your own mailing lists. I will be contacting the magazines shortly with this info also. In all honesty, Dan would have made fun of me for setting up such a fund but I felt it was the best way to make sure he did not die in vain. I have to think if there were better treatment options for Poly Cystic kidney disease, the infamous guru would be with us today making trouble for years to come… Regards – Will Brink