Jack Hickey.

First of all, I would like to say that Jack and I were not lifelong friends. In the grand scheme of things we were recent acquaintances. I never saw him in The Turbines, which many say was his quintessential band. I never even listened to their record which still sits in my collection in pristine condition. Sorry Jack, but after playing with you in The Lyres, I have all the information I need to place you in the highest regard as a musician and as a human being. This is an honor I don’t casually toss about. Sometimes I think that I hate everybody. But Damn you Jack, you made a mark on my soul, and if it’s any consolation, most of my Lyres records are still untouched.
These are some of my Jack Hickey stories, related to the best of my knowledge. Please keep in mind, as with many musicians we all had our pleasures and demons, so forgive any inaccuracies because I write them with the utmost respect and love.
Story number one:
It was somewhere in Georgia. Yup. The deep south. My band, The Lyres, at that time were myself, Jim Janota on drums, Jack on guitar, and of course, Jeff Conolly. We were all shitfaced after a gig. Normally I would be driving because I was undisputedly the best drunk driver in the band. But even I had too much and knew it. Everyone else was passed out in the van except for me and Jack.
“Jack. I can’t even see, never mind drive,” I slurred.
Jack took the wheel.
Ten minutes later the gut wrenching WHOOP WHOOP WHOOP of a police siren rang out. Apparently we did something wrong while driving drunk, go figure, and Jack didn’t have a valid drivers license. Jack stopped the van, got out and stood next to it. I really thought we were screwed. This massive Georgia state trooper emerged from his cruiser. He looked like Buford Pusser without the stick. Meanwhile, I’m picturing tow trucks, breathalyzer tests, paddy wagons, a night in the Greybar Hotel, and hefty fines for all kinds of violations. They talked for a while. Buford pulled out what looked like a violation pad and Jack signed it, walked back to the van, got in, started it up, and headed off to our motel. I was dumbfounded! In the morning, on the hotel credenza I found a ballpoint pen that had “Compliments of your Georgia State Police” written on it. Jeez! He somehow sweet-talked the dude and ended up with his pen!
Story number two:
Jack was our guitarist on our European tour that I call the forty gig tour. It was cool. Forty gigs in 39 days. Just one day off. But if you’re touring this is good because if you have a day off you’re spending your own money for food and stuff. This tour was so cool that I quit a good job to do it. The money offered was really good, much more than my job was paying, and fuck it, I hated that job!
We had a Dutch tour manager who really kept us on schedule, cracked the whip so to speak, but aside from his wicked smelly feet, he was very likable as long as he kept his shoes outside of the hotel room at night. Everything was going well, but halfway through the tour the promoter decided he wanted to bail out. We assumed it was because he was not going to make as much money as he originally thought. He instructed our tour manager to stop everything, return with all the money we made so far, and end the tour. Jack somehow convinced the smelly feet guy to ignore the promoter and keep going with the tour. We went completely rogue, continued the tour, and kept all the money!
Story number three:
We were somewhere in Germany screaming down the highway. I was driving. Suddenly something felt off with the van. A wicked vibration emanated from the front end. It was so bad I decided to take the next exit. As I took the off-ramp, axles, CV joints, and other important parts flew off the van and rolled to the side of the road. We coasted to a dead stop, and as luck would have it, we were directly across the street from the coolest beer bar in Germany! They even had dart boards! We left our busted down van and walked across the street to beer and darts while our Dutch driver jogged off to find new transport. I still have the ashtray I stole.
A couple of hours later our Dutch driver came back with a box truck, the only thing he could find. Two of us had to ride in the back, locked into the dark cargo hold. Which is not only illegal but wicked scary to claustrophobians like me. Plus we had borders to cross and if the border agents decided to look into the back we would be in mucho trouble.
“I’ll do it,” Janota immediately volunteered. Jack looked at me and I guess my face gave me away. So, in an unforgettable act of kindness he announced:
“I’ll go too,” he said and we locked them in the hold with a flashlight and a deck of cards.
Story number four:
Again, somewhere in Germany. We were spending the night at a deli/ hotel. The food was wicked good and our hosts, a very large man and his svelte wife were very kind and hospitable. We all got along well enough for them to allow us to stay drinking at the bar after they had closed for the night. The owner’s wife brought out an old acoustic guitar. Jack’s eyes lit up. He grabbed the guitar and started playing old Beatles tunes and soon we were all singing loudly. The owners brought out plates of meat and other goodies as we sang along to Jack’s guitar well into the wee hours. It was simply amazing, in fact, as it was happening, I clearly remember thinking this is the stuff of memories.

The last time I talked to Jack was just after Covid hit. He had posted on Facebook that he was looking for a 12 string guitar to buy. An old beater would do just fine, he said. I PMed him and said I had an aging Fender that he could have for free. He came to my house to pick it up and we had cigars and brandy in my garage. Jack was so easy to talk to and we yakked for what seemed like hours. His understated intelligence and wry sense of humor attracted me from the first day we met. He always kept things light, but that afternoon his serious side came through. When a guy cries in front of another guy this is serious Guy Code stuff, I know, and one should never discuss this with others. But I will take exception, dear reader, because I will never forget this.
“Be happy with what you have. It may not be easy, but you gotta try. They say that you earn the life you deserve, but sometimes shit happens.”
As his eyes welled up he actually apologised for being so maudlin.
Jack Hickey was my friend and I liked him a lot.

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