It’s been a rough couple of months for musicians and lovers of music. We lost Levon Helm, Andrew Love, Skip Pitts, Duck Dunn, Chris Ethridge, Adam Yauch and Dick Clark, all in just a few weeks of one another…and just this morning I learned of the passing of the great go-go master, Chuck Brown. My good friend and walking miracle, Ben Cauley was recently in the hospital and we were all praying he’d pull through, which he did. Thank goodness and God bless you, Ben.
In losing all of these great people all at once, I’ve been struck with a profound feeling of sadness mixed with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude that I’m still here, walking around on this planet, able to make music and share in the many joys this life has to offer. That there are so many wonderful people around me too who are healthy and happy, constantly giving of themselves without wanting anything in return. I feel lucky. Lucky that I was able to trade licks with Skip on many occasions and watch that big smile of his as he tore into the opening lines of the Theme From Shaft. That I was fortunate to see Levon play and then shake his hand afterward, telling him how much of a hero he was to me. He hugged me like we were brothers and I felt like we were.
Lucky to know the music that Adam Yauch gave to the world. He was only a few years older than I am now, so that one hit me pretty hard. I loved his style, bass playing, flow, attitude and humble nature. What a loss. I was 19 years old, working at Poplar Tunes Record Store in Memphis, when Licensed To Ill came out and it completely floored me. I was into Run-D.M.C., Houdini, Sugarhill Gang and LL Cool J at that time, but these dudes had something special that resonated with me immediately. Being the youngest employee there, many of my elders frowned on my daily playing of that record in the store and I frequently got my ass chewed out for it, but I didn’t care. That groove was bad and helped guide me to the path I’m on today.
Thank you, MCA!
And Duck Dunn…wow. I never had the opportunity to see him play and that’s a shame cause he was around Memphis a lot when I was growing up, but I managed to miss him somehow. Not his recordings though, no sir and we’ll all have them with us, forever. So many of my good friends have told me stories about playing with Duck and what an amazing feel he had on the bass. Souful, funky, groovin, understated and totally baddass. Heaven just got a lot funkier.
May we never forget any of them and in the immortal words of Levon…
“All the best to us. Stay stout!”