|Subject: The proverbial 39 years
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Date Posted: 12:13:31 01/11/03 Sat
January 2003. Thanks to David and Jan Vincent for posting and maintaining this site. I must be the last person to find out that Dick Fegy is gone. (We obviously didn’t write too often) nor did he see me every trip East, though he came often as he could. Dick(ie) Fegy and I have been friends since we attended Bennett Jr. High together in Manchester, Connecticut. We met in 8th grade at the “Talent Show,” in 1962, me, presumptuous enough to play an old Italian bowl-bellied mandolin “Blowin’ in the Wind” (“Gee, she’s been practicing all morning, it’s only 3 chords!”) Near the end of the dress rehearsal, this pudgy little guy in a stiped jersey, and a thick head of dark hair came out, sat in a chair, and played “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” on a 5-string Banjo. He never cracked a smile, and his brows were furrowed in utter concentration. Needless to say, we all went NUTS, and Dick and I remained friends ever since. In High School, we played together in a jug band. Dick got me hooked up with a Martin D-21 that, apparently, had my name written all over it. He put people and instruments together for as long as I’d known him. I think he hoped that I might be more serious about music than I was. He taught me to traverse pick. We used to play a lot together. One day, out at Dave Monahan’s, Dickie played “Spanish Fandango” and I loved it. I pestered him to teach me to play it, and he finally traded the lesson for a haircut and beard trim. Needless to say, the lesson lasted twice as long as the haircut, but Dick was always unfailingly kind, patient, and liked to teach people things. He was very generous, modest, and very self-conscious about his singing, which is why he wouldn’t join a serious band for the longest time.
As the story goes, when Dick’s banjo broke and had to go in for repairs, he played Marty’s guitar (Marty, Dick’s older brother) to keep his hands busy. Marty used to tell this tale in tears. Though Marty played two or so years straight “every afternoon until my fingers bled,” Dick surpassed him in the two weeks it took to repair the five-string. Well, it is a good story, anyway. In high school, we also had a coffee house, and we were always ecstatic when Dick and Marty would play together, and we always demanded Dick play “Maple Leaf Rag” on the guitar. Dick’s talent was huge, but his devotion to bluegrass, openness to all kinds of music, eagerness to interpret a line of music, curiosity about the world and the way everything fits together was far more enormous. Dick practiced relentlessly. He loved to pick. He loved to play. No opportunity was passed up. He taught himself 3 years of piano in 3 months our senior year.
Later, Dick and I went to B.U. together. I would occasionally go over with Dick to Old Joe Clark’s in Cambridge to listen to his rehearsals. We used to joke that since we had to take the ”T” to Park Street Under to get to Cambridge, that we were going to rename the band the “Park Street Undertakers.” Yes, he and I shared a love of puns. He was quiet. You hadda listen. He and I both thought Neil Rossi was the world’s greatest fiddler. I have a Christmas tape that Dickie gave as a Christmas card one year. His brother Marty recorded it in his studio. On it, Dick plays banjo, fiddle, guitar, mandolin, and piano on different tracks. (The boys did bring in a drummer.) He said it was a “demo” tape. He loved doing studio music after the carpel tunnel problem got to be too painful. He hoped to have the benefits to get the problem corrected, but he never did. He started his musical career on the 5-string banjo, learned guitar and other instruments, but I think he liked the mandolin best. It was quiet, subtle, or raucus.and spontaneous. He could play a lick of anything, and make it fit into any band. He would make any band better. He Hated being on the road with Bromberg, though he got to travel. He loved his life so much more when he overcame his drug addictions developed on the road. A few years ago, he confided to me that Linda Rondstadt was interested in having him in her band, and I asked Dick why didn’t he go?” “Oh, I like LA, I could never get used to SF— It hurt to perform too much, he didn’t want to tour any more, and most importantly, he loved all of his friends in LA, and would miss them too much.
Dick had a giant intellect, but people often pigeon-holed him as a “just a musician”—just one of the best musicians in the whole world! (Just an opinion.) He loved Romantic English Poetry, James Joyce, Sociology, picking, and he was nuts about billiards. He would periodically tell me how his billiard game was doing, rather than his career. His billiards, he had to work much harder at. He hoped to find that special someone, but after awhile, he realized that Muse was Music, and that was more than good enough. He was IN LOVE with the mandolin he bought himself in 2000(?) When my oldest child turned 8, he asked me if I had him in guitar lessons yet.
Can this gentle man, this gigantic musician, this true and wonderful friend be gone?
Not as long as we love and play his music, and remember the “Dickisms.” Peace to all. He will and is, greatly gone, and greatly here. Marty, I may never forgive you for not calling me.
P.S. Sue, from BU, if you’re there, please e-mail me.
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