March 24, 2008
Hi, this is Bob and I am not back from Kingman yet.
Well, this is actually half true. I am still in Kingman, but I am not writing this.
I had this small thing crop up Saturday afternoon---I think they call it a heart attack---and right now I am flat on my back with a trache tube in my throat. I am told that I will be OK, but I can't get to a laptop so my friend Charlie Waters is writing this blog entry as my voice. He was there when it happened, knows what led up to it and has pieced together the other details from those who were there as well. (So if there are any mistakes in this, blame him.)
Anyway, here goes:
If you recall from previous postings, Saturday was the Exits Exit, a party celebrating 45 years since Charlie, Wendell Havatone and I formed Kingman's first real rock 'n roll band. It was also a tribute to Wendell, who died two years ago this month---from a heart attack.
Kathy and I went to Kingman Friday afternoon and had a great time that night at a show put on by our good friend Mike Torres and his partner Roger Enrico, a duo better known as Kokomo. I met with the videographer we had hired for our Saturday gig and chatted with old classmates and guys I had played with in different bands.
On Saturday morning, a dozen musicians met at the old Elks Lodge to rehearse for Saturday night. I wanted the music to be tight and Mike had done a great job organizing it. The first set, which we had practiced two or three times in Phoenix, didn't go very well. When we broke for lunch, I told Charlie: "This is a train wreck." Now Charlie has been the nervous wreck about the whole party for the past six weeks, so it was ironic that now he was trying to settle me down.
I walked down the street with Terry Mitchell, another old Exit, to grab a taco and some iced tea. When I got back, Charlie asked if I was OK. I said I had some tightness in my chest. He said maybe we should go see a doctor. I said I would be fine.
If the first-set practice was a train wreck, the practice for The Exits would have to be described as four jetliners colliding in mid-air. Maybe worse. We dumped two songs completely, and I was more than just a bit perplexed and irritated. Midway through, as I was bent over my drums, Charlie again asked if I was OK. I told him: "Let's just get this over with." Later, Charlie assured me that we could cut the set down further and it would be fine.
It was now about 2:30 and I said we needed to wrap up whatever I would be doing by 3 because I wanted to go back to the hotel for a nap. We had planned a three-drummer version of "Wipeout" and I had been looking forward to playing it with Ken Kingman and Larry Archer, the latter my old friend and Smokey bandmate. We started and it rocked. I played with my sticks off a back wall, got down from my drum set and played on the floor, even did a senior-citizen version of the Gator. At the back of the room, Charlie turned to another friend and said: "I guess Boze is feeling much better now."
The last thing I guess I remember right now is sitting back down at my drums. I guess they give you something in the hospital to calm you and keep you from immediately recalling the actual incident so you don't stress too much. When I am up to it and recall more, I will share it with you.
I'm told that most people in the room thought it was an act when I slumped over my drums. Someone apparently said, "You can get up now, Bob," when the music stopped. When she said it again and I didn't respond, all hell broke loose. John Waters rolled me over on the floor and couldn't get a pulse. People screamed to call 911 and Charlie was the first to get through, followed by others.
Wayne Rutschman's son, Cody, and Cody's fiancee, Jenna Doucett, jumped in to get my tongue out of my throat and started CPR. The doctors at the hospital later told Kathy that "whoever did the CPR did it perfectly and saved your husband's life." I started breathing and then vomited. Wayne took the CPR over from there. (Now is that devotion to a band member or what?)
When the paramedics arrived, they couldn't get a tube down me so they put in this damned trache. They also had trouble getting IV lines in, I am told. Charlie called his wife Linda, who went to our hotel to find Kathy. They went to the hospital to meet me. As the paramedics left, they told no one in particular: "I don't know what your beliefs are, but this is now in the hands of a higher power."
Two hours later, I had two stints in me and was in recovery. The doctors, nurses and others at the hospital have been wonderful to us.
Kathy and my daughter Deena told Charlie that the party had to go on. The other musicians were to gather at the Elks at six p.m., when it would be determined what they would do.
An hour later, the first of 300 people showed up. I am told the musicians rallied and that the music was great.
They also tell me that there was lots of love in the room for me.
Oh, and before I forget: Thank you Jenna, Cody and Wayne.
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