I've blogged about my various Bobby encounters before, but to recap: Bobby got connected with the Mediocre Bad Guys through a mutual friend. He just wanted some local blokes to jam with on Christmas vacation when he was in town visiting. He had every reason to be a full-on prima donna with a bunch of no-names in Mayberry. Instead, he was approachable. Tremendously gifted. And funny, oh so funny. He put us at ease and made us feel we were part of something together, not just riding his coattails.
Bobby was the one who, in our very first rehearsal together, ripped his memorable "Brown Sugar" solo and gave us all chills. And then when the song was over and we all were soaking up the moment, Bobby very nonchalantly mentioned that it was that very night, 40 years ago, when he actually recorded that solo on the original track. More chills.
Bobby was the one who, in our first gig, leaned over in the middle of "Peter Gunn" and directed me to solo by yelling over top of my keys, "Okay, Preacher Man, take it!" Never mind that I'd never soloed on that song in my life. When Bobby tells you to solo, you solo. And I just think it's cool that a Rolling Stone called me "Preacher Man."
Bobby was the one who signed the poster for our first gig with, "Thanks, Let's do it again!" When we played our second gig, he signed that poster, "We did it again!" Both those posters are framed and hanging in our rec room at home.
Bobby was the one who posed for pictures with my boys before our third gig, smiling and listening to my older son talk about his drum lessons.
Bobby was an absolute menace on the sax. He could make a sax solo work on any song, whether he knew the song or not, whether a sax solo on that song should even musically work. Just give him the key and let him have at it. On top of that, he was also a good person. Authentic. He was who he was. And he engaged us with grace and warmth, us no-names from Mayberry. Each time our paths crossed, it was like old times. We had fun with him, and I believe he genuinely had fun with us.
In all the press releases that have and will be released in the coming days, no one will say a word about Bobby's time with Mediocre Bad Guys. Not one of them will mention that one of the artists he shared the stage with was a Presbyterian minister from North Carolina. Nor should they. We were no-names. Bobby was a big name. And on a few special occasions, the no-names and the big name made some great music together. And I'll always be grateful for that.
Thanks, Bobby for the music - and thanks for the memories that music always makes.