The first concert I ever went to on my own was a Daryl Hall and John Oates show, and I've seen the duo dozens of times since then . Sometime in the Eighties when I got to write for Rolling Stone, I took the first opportunity I had to meet my childhood heroes. Fortunately for me, getting to know Daryl & John these past few decades meant I've also had the pleasure of knowing their longtime musical director Tom "T-Bone" Wolk, who's been at the heart of in fantastic band since the days of "Private Eyes."
T-Bone was a guy who was impossible not to love - especially if you cared about music even half as much as he did. He looked like some great character actor or some ultra-cool, Tom Waits-adjacent jazz cat and played bass like some soulful dream combination of Paul McCartney and James Jamerson. T-Bone was also the funky Caucasian playing bass on "The Breaks" by Kurtis Blow, one of the defining funky tracks in early rap history.
For years, T-Bone was also a musical fixture as part of the famed Saturday Night Live Band. Beyond making a massive contribution to Daryl and John's body of work, he worked as a player or producer with many other artists whose music touched my life -- and probably yours too -- including Carly Simon, Billy Joel, Paul Carrack, Elvis Costello, Cyndi Lauper, Willie Nile, Shawn Colvin and Rosanne Cash. As a musician -- on bass, guitar, accordion or anything else you put in front of him -- and as a friend, T-Bone just had the absolute perfect touch.
Today I heard the shocking horrible news that T-Bone died of a heart attack on Saturday. That's about all I know. The irony hit me hard because T-Bone played straight from the heart, and put his heart into everything that he did onstage and in the studio. I last saw T-Bone back in September when I flew in to co-host a special appearance Daryl and John were making with the band on QVC in West Chester, Pennsylvania to promote their upcoming box set Do What You Want, Be What You Are. I'd flown in on a red eye straight from working on writing the Emmy Awards show the night before, and I was feeling vaguely disoriented when I met up with the guys backstage. But there, standing along with Daryl and John was T-Bone with his familiar face and warm smile.
We spoke about some of the great shows he was doing on Live From Daryl's House, a fantastic online jam session that demonstrated the range of the band as well as Daryl. T-Bone then kindly asked me how I was doing, and I probably made some small complaint about being a little tired from the plane trip -- this to a guy who travelled the world many times in order to make music for people. "We're lucky guys, David," T-Bone told me a smile. "We get to be around the music, and sometimes we even get paid."
T-Bone was right, of course. I was very lucky to know the man. And we were all very lucky to share all the music he brought to our lives.
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