Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Chris Ethridge, Legendary Bassist for The Flying Burrito Brothers and Willie Nelson, Passes Away at 65

Some call him "Easter" from the movie "Honeysuckle Rose", some call him a Legend, some credit the group he helped found, "The Flying Burrito Brothers", with merging rock and country, but those who knew him best called him son, father, brother, mentor, and friend.

We have all met the struggling artist with an ego bigger than the stars, and we have also met those that have had a certain amount of fame that were puffed up, egotistical, and vain.  For some it is in their nature, and for others it is a necessary survival technique in a business that sometimes takes peoples dreams and does it's best to rip them to shreds.

Chris was one of those souls that did not require vanity for survival, he had something deep in his nature that was humble, gentle, soft spoken, and never proud or boastful.  Those qualities endeared Chris to many struggling artist and people from all walks of life. It did not matter to Chris how much talent a person had, if he could help guide them, he would.

I met Chris the first time I ever performed live, playing my guitar and singing a song I wrote.  I can assure you that the dog howls when I sing, and runs when I play the guitar, but Chris, who was out in the audience, was so kind to me afterward, told me how much he enjoyed it, and even though I knew I was horrible, he made me feel like a million bucks.

We became fast friends, and I, like most people that have had the pleasure of knowing him, simply fell in love with the kindest, sweetest, man I have ever met. Those who have had the pleasure of being his friend will tell you he had a certain sparkle in his eyes, a laugh and way of telling stories that drew you in and hooked you like a hungry fish ready to snap at the first thing that looked like food.

The only time I ever saw Chris look remotely mad was over something that happened thirty years ago.  He was in California and a friend of his tried to get him to eat a Habanero pepper. Chris ask if it was hot, and the friend told him no, so Chris took a bite.  He said the pepper was so hot it made him cry, and just talking about, and remembering how hot that pepper was, brought about the most unpleasant look I ever saw on Chris's face.

 Chris had several people approach him about writing a book, and his first thought was always his desire to respect and honor those he knew, and his desire to make sure nothing would be said in the book that  might hurt or embarrass anyone he knew.

Not only was Chris kind to those he met in public, his kindness and love manifested itself in his love for his family. I remember one particular day his mom was a little under the weather, and I went with him to the Winn Dixie to buy her some Kleenex.  Most people, especially men, would have grabbed the first box they saw, but not Chris, he looked until he was satisfied he had found the prettiest box of Kleenex in the store, because he thought the beautifully colored flowers on the box would make her feel better.

Even in the hospital, his first thoughts extended to his family, especially his children, and their well being.

I, like so many others that were blessed to have him as a friend, will remember Chris, not for his fame, but for the love, joy, and peace he gave to light our day and make our time on Earth a little brighter, and the heavy loads life sometimes sends, a little lighter..

Rest in peace my friend...I will love and cherish the memories... until we meet again.  See you on Heaven's highway 45.

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