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Tony T.It saddens me to write this about my friend Tony, a really great guy and an unbelievably talented musician. Unfortunately for all, the spirit known as Tony T. lost his battle with cancer, and we’ve lost another member of our music community way too soon. I met Tony a couple years ago, he was playing guitar with both Johnnie Johnson and Cryin’ Shame. One evening he joined me for dinner, we talked about music for hours, the nightcap and memory that will last a long time was me playing bass and Tony playing guitar and singing in my living room to an audience of my wife and children.

There’s no doubt Tony was happiest playing guitar. Over the years not only did he play with Johnnie and Cryin’ Shame, he also played with Bo Diddley, Barbara Carr, Bill Coday, Rufus Thomas, Tyrone Davis, Shirley Brown, Ernie Isley and he told me playing with Tommy Bankhead was an absolute thrill and inspiration. Tony started his affinity with music early, as a kid he was always beating on things or locking himself in his room with a pretend microphone and a broom for guitar. In fifth grade he played drums, he loved playing drums and had a great sense of timing. At the age of fifteen Tony started playing in bars. At seventeen he started with an acoustic guitar.

He told me he fell in love with guitar, that “it sucked me right in, that I just could not get enough guitar”. After a couple of years at the Conservatory of Music in Kansas City, his uncle gave him his 65’ Fender Strat. It was his uncle that turned Tony on the three Kings: Albert, Freddie and B.B. Albert King was Tony’s biggest influence. Later when joining Johnnie Johnson, Tony played with Albert’s bass player Gus Thorton and then again with Bo.

Tony played at the Guitar Masters in 2002 at the Pageant and dreamt of playing large outdoor festivals and Madison Square Gardens. Tony and I would often trade emails writing about songs we’ve heard or CD’s we liked and always ended the notes asking about my family. Tony liked to listen to Michael Burks and Melvin Taylor. In addition to blues, he liked old Kenny Burrell, Cuban music and Latin guitar. That night at my house Tony said “It is such an incredible feeling when you walk on the stage, you don't know what's going to happen, but it's just wonderful. I just love that feeling. I would do it every single night.”

He will be not only remembered for his guitar playing and soulful vocals but as a decent human being with a giving heart. The stage was his home, he lived in Columbia, Missouri with his wife Margaret.

Good night Tony, rest in peace.

Cornbread at STLBlues


I reflect back on Tony's kindness to me when my wife fought her own battle with cancer. Tony always made it a point to ask how she was doing, and even ended up giving of his time to play a STLBlues Cancer Benefit
. As fine a person as he was a musician, it's made my life richer having known him.

I'll see you on the other side, brother.

Big Dave at STLBlues
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