Monday, November 5, 2018

My lost chance at fame ... maybe - the Weldon Irvine Story



Keyboardist Weldon Irvine (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weldon_Irvine) would occasionally sit in on some gigs I played in Hampton, VA where he was born. He was a strange cat, kind of jumping at the keyboard and jumping back. I ran into him again some years later when I was teaching at the Armed Forces School of Music on the Little Creek Base in Virginia Beach. I played frequently at a restaurant in downtown Norfolk called the Judge’s Chambers. Sometime it was with my fusion band “Hearsay”, sometimes with a three guitar group called Great Guitars of Tidewater (GGOT) which was recorded live for an NPR station in Norfolk, and sometimes with a few different horn players in town. Also many times with my own trio - guitar, string bass and drums.

It was on one of those trio gigs that I noticed a dude sitting at a table near the front listening intently. On the break he called me over and introduced himself (even though I had seen him before when he was sitting in). We talked for a few minutes and then he asked me if I wanted to front for George Benson on a 9 week Japanese tour. OMG, I couldn’t believe my ears! George Benson, one of my guitar heros! ….. Then it struck me, you are in the Army dude. There is no such thing as a leave of absence in the U.S. Army. What could I do? I had to turn it down.

So this is my sad story. Hard to prove or disprove as Weldon died in 2002 and I doubt he would have remembered it in his later life anyway, but I swear it is the truth.