Block Telesales Calls NOW
Receive no more
"River was built to take people at face value - to find out what was good about them, pull it out and expand on it. And River set himself up to be disappointed and overburdened because he was so loving and caring."- Dirk Drake
Upon the family's arrival back in Florida in 1979, Arlyn sought out and hired Dirk Drake, a young local man with a naval background who had just completed his masters degree, as a tutor for River and the rest of her children. "John and Arlyn had a mistrust of formal education," Drake recalled. "I think it was because of their own bad experiences with public education as kids."
Speaking of the five Phoenix children, Drake said, "Their education was on the streets of the world. These kids had Ph.D.'s before they were ten. I knew how special these kids were because they had been raised with such special ideals."
Drake, who had even worked in the film industry himself as a historical advisor was invited by River to move onto the Phoenix family estate in 1987. Although staying for only a few days at a time, Drake saw at first hand the effect River's fame was having on his student. "River hated being on the cover of Tiger Beat," he said. "Pulling a fancy T-shirt down and exposing a nipple, he was totally ashamed of doing it but he understood that was part of it all - the mission, the purpose, the job. But he also found it ridiculous at the same time. That's heavy pressure when you're a self-conscious lad of sixteen."
As River grew older, Drake's role slowly changed from being an advisor and tutor to that of being one of River's closest friends. They would spend long hours together and attended many parties and benefit gigs together for example.
River never forgot the friendship and support given to him by Dirk Drake. In return, River did whatever he could to help his friend - when Drake was going through a difficult divorce, for example. River would also write a song for Drake called "Mardi Gras in Dublin".
Following his friend's death, Drake said, "River was saying, 'I feel like I'm going to leave'. He said the spirits were coming to get him and whoever was up there was pulling him away. I never took him seriously when he said stuff like that. I wish I had."
"If anyone with a heart and mind had paid attention, they would have seen it was all too much for him and he had nowhere to go. We were all guilty. We were all prolonging a lie."- Dirk Drake