R.I.P Bugs Henderson
"Lone Star" blues guitar legend Bugs Henderson, the fiery blues-rocker with the wicked and funky six-string sting, died Thursday night from complications of liver cancer. He was 68.
Mr. Henderson died at his home in Jefferson only four days after a huge benefit with a slew of well-known musicians was held at the Palladium Ballroom to raise money for his medical expenses. Mr. Henderson had no health insurance, and the cost of his care was mounting. Mr. Henderson did not attend that Palladium benefit because he was at home under hospice care.
According to his website, Henderson was born in Palm Springs, Calif. in 1943 but spent most of his young life growing up in Tyler. He later moved to Dallas to continue his career and became a blues legend.
Henderson played with some big names including B.B. King, Freddie King, Eric Clapton, Ted Nugent, Roy Buchanan, and James Burton.
Henderson's death comes just days after a concert honoring him in Dallas.
Bugs Henderson was born in Palm Springs, California in 1943 and grew up in Tyler, Texas. Bugs had a burning desire to pick up the 6 string at an early age. At the age of 6 he discovered his first love. Beginning in the early 1960's he began working in a record store in Tyler. As a teen he would sneak out of the house against his fathers wishes just to catch live gigs in the local joints. Beginning his own band, the Sensors, at age 16 he soon joined his friend, Ronnie Weiss, in a band called Mouse and the Traps. Mouse and the traps charted its first song, "Public Execution" in 1966. This is where he earned his name "Bugs" over shadowing his real name Buddy.
By the end of the decade, Bugs had made the transition from fan to musician. As a house guitarist at the Robin Hood Studios, he played demo sessions behind numerous performers from country to rock.
Bugs' signature sound was beginning to define itself during the 1970s with the blues. Quoting Bugs, "Blues was all that mattered to me; no other music was worth a damn." During this time, Bugs moved from Tyler to Dallas in order to join the scene of a bar called The Cellar. "It's really hard to explain that place," Henderson remembers. "It was this big, black room. It had a red light that came on when the cops were coming in and another light for fights. The waitresses wore just bras and panties, but they ran three or four bands in a night and everybody played original music. We usually didn't leave until four in the morning, and there was no other place like it around. It was the best thing that happened to my music. I learned a lot."
Henderson went from small clubs to playing on stage opening for artists such as the Allman Brothers, B.B King, and Leon Russell. Henderson described it as "a big change."
Bugs and his love for blues got tired of the wide-open riff-oriented rock, and friend Freddie King began pushing for Henderson to start his own band. Bugs the assembled his first record "At Last" released on succession of 14 albums spanning over four decades.
Success and it's spoils began wreaking havoc on Bugs' life in the late 1970s. Bugs took time to take a good hard look at where his life was and where it was going. "Most of the people I ran with are dead, in jail, or just look terrible. With God's help and good friends, I came out of it, "Henderson says. Bugs Henderson lives in East Texas with his wife Patty and daughter Zoey. "The order of importance in his life is simple: Family, Music, Career. Bugs explains, "I couldn't have the life I have now and be a major star. Couldn't go to my kids' ball games. I wouldn't give up that for anything."
His mixture of searing blues, jazz ability, swing, funk, and just about everything else that can be played on six strings; Bugs has the ability to give his audience a sense of true musical art, applying enormous control over his tone and coloration.
Bugs has played with guitar icons such as B.B. King, Freddie King, Eric Clapton, Ted Nugent, Roy Buchanan, and James Burton. To this day, Bugs' guitar hangs in Hard Rock Cafe' in Dallas along side instruments donated by Lee Ritenouer and Chet Atkins.
"I tell people all the time that I know you're supposed to stop and smell the roses as you go though life, but in my case I stopped and moved into the garden."
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