|T-BONE WOLK - MISS YOU MY OLD FRIEND|
|Written by Del Breckenfeld - Author|
|Thursday, 04 March 2010 11:01|
When someone we know passes away, we always tend to think it was too soon. That doesn't always have as much to do with age, but more that we regret that we had so many things we wished we had told them when we had the chance. This week I found out that Tom "T-Bone" Wolk passed away of an apparent heart attack at 58, but in his case, it was simply way too soon. To most everyone in the music business, he was a household name, from his years in the Saturday Night Live TV house band, and since 1981, as bassist and most recently, guitarist and band leader for the platinum duo Hall & Oates. In between he played on and/or produced recordings for such major artists as Elvis Costello, Billy Joel, Bette Midler, Carly Simon and Avril Lavigne. Like many musicians of the baby boom era, he started out on accordion, but switched to electric guitar after seeing the Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. And our mutual love for the Beatles is where I will pick up the story.
The first time I met T-Bone was around 20 years ago when he came through Chicago on one of his tours with Hall & Oates. I was invited to the sound check to meet him and I was treated to an impromptu concert as the backing band ran through a warm-up set of Beatles' tunes. Being a bassist myself, I was amazed at how he captured McCartney's melodic style, but none-the-less had his own signature style. We chatted for quite a while about the Beatles, the fact that we both still had our original Hofner "Beatle" basses just like Paul's, and a strong bond was formed. From that moment on, whenever Hall & Oates came to town, T-Bone would always call and personally invite me and my guests to the show.
A few years later I joined Fender as Director of Artist Relations and because of his James Burton autographed Telecaster guitar and his original '61 P Bass, I knew that he was truly a “Fender” guy. But he never asked for anything special from me until one day after a H&O performance, he wondered if he could come out to Fender's Custom Shop with his beloved P Bass to have one of our master builders create an exact replica of the bass, down to every little ding and scratch. I knew how excited the builders would be to see this famous bass up close and personal, and to also have the honor of replicating it so he could use it on tour and leave the original bass safe & sound in his studio. Even with that, T-Bone insisted on paying for the instrument because he just wanted the chance to work with the best craftsman. And of course, as was his style, he couldn't have been more sweet and humble when meeting the Custom Shop crew.
The last time I saw him was at a Hall & Oates concert late last year at a local So. Cal Indian gaming resort. I had pushed the favor a bit by asking for enough tickets for my family which include my wife, stepson and my brother Ed who was visiting from Chicago, plus a few friends who also happened to be die hard fans. John Oates graciously took care of the request so T-Bone didn't know I was there until a few minutes before the show when he caught a glimpse of me backstage and came running over. In typical T-Bone fashion, his perennial “Porkpie” hat atop his head, he treated my family and friends as if they were, well family. He was stellar on guitar that evening and the band never sounded better and the audience reaction was over the top. For the following week, we exchanged text messages about how great the show went and how taken aback they were at the audience's adoration, my family, and even the cool retro shirt I was wearing that night. A nicer more genuine person you couldn't find and I was happy for him that he seemed to be at his peak.
Certainly my fondest memory of T-Bone was a few years ago when he called me over the Christmas holidays to not just wish me season's greetings, but to tell me that Daryl Hall and he were in Abbey Road Studios in London and that he was sitting at the very same piano the Beatles used on so many of their legendary recordings.
Because he knew how much I would appreciate it, he wanted to convey the overwhelming spiritual connection to their music he experienced just being in that room - I say
“Amen” my dear friend!