Audey Ratliff remembers James Alan Shelton

Among the many people mourning the loss of James Alan Shelton today is his good friend, Audey Ratliff. Many people know Audey through his luthiery, as the owner of Ratliff Mandolins. He and James grew up in the same part of east Tennessee, and were long-time friends. We asked Audey to share a remembrance of James “the man,” as opposed to merely recalling his musical exploits.

Here is what he shared.

I have one short story that not only illustrates my relationship with James, but also illustrates what kind of guy he was.

Many years ago, one night in particular, I needed help………

It was about one o’clock in the morning and a bad situation was developing with a soon-to-be ex-wife. Things were on a rapidly escalating downward spiral. I had nowhere to turn and a resolution to the problem seemed to be nowhere in sight.

I called James on the telephone (remember it was one o’clock in the morning).

Of course, I had woken him, but all I said was, “James, I’m in trouble and I need help.”

His reply sealed my loyalty to a friendship that has lasted ever since.

His simple reply was, “Tell me where you are and give me enough time to put my pants on and I’ll come and get you.”

And that is exactly what he did.

There is a big difference between an acquaintance and a friend. Throughout my career in the music industry I have made many acquaintances………..but there are few friends I can call in the middle of the night.

James was one of those kind of friends to me. I will never forget his help so freely given that night.

I will miss him dearly.