Here’s another bluegrass professional who’s life and career were touched by the legendary Don Light, who passed away last week. Jaimie Daley recalls his former manager with great respect and affection.
Almost ten years ago this year, I was in Owensboro Kentucky working for Doyle Lawson. After our show a gentleman walked up to me and shook my hand and introduced himself as Doyle’s soon to be new manager. His name was Don Light. I had heard Doyle mention his name before but I never thought much about it. As time went on I got to know Don and love and admire him. He told me stories about his days of managing some of the greats like, The Happy Goodman Family, Lester Flatt, Kieth Whitley, The Oak Ridge Boys and Jimmy Buffet. His stories always captivated me.
In December of 2006 I walked in his office and told him that I was going to be leaving Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver and starting my own band with Darrin Vincent. Immediately he asked, “Do you have a manager?” I told him no. Long story short, he became our manager too.
Don Light managed us for the first five years of our career and he helped us make some history and do some things that had never been done in our genre. He helped guide us through some of our toughest and most challenging times, yet like a father, he loved us through it all.
On Monday mornings Darrin and I would walk in the office for a our weekly partners meeting with Don Light. Usually he would always start the meeting with some kind of joke but most always a story from the past. And normally he would have Darrin in the floor laughing at least twice before we left. Sometimes he would want us to ride with him to have lunch and this was always interesting as we felt he should have been a race car driver and we told him so. One of the funniest things he did that I recall off hand was us riding to lunch with him. When he pulled in the lot he parked in a handicapped spot, reached in his console and pulled out a handicap permit and looked at Darrin and I and said ever so sternly, “My cripple card!” At this point Darrin Vincent nearly broke the windows out of the car from laughing so hard. I’ll have to say, I was pretty tickled myself.
Don Light fought hard for Dailey and Vincent’s long term best interests but he did with class and integrity. One of the last pictures I was given of Don Light was from Nina Fortune. It’s a picture of us performing our show at the Ryman auditorium in Nashville. Nina was standing off to the side of us back stage. She took a photo of Don Light standing there watching us. Mostly all you can see is his silhouette with our backs turned to him as we sang into the beautiful crowded filled room. It’s a classic picture. When I look at the picture I wonder how many times he stood there watching his acts perform in years past. What a classic picture.
No more will we hear his stories, his one lined zingers. We won’t get to sit on the other side of his desk listening to his years of experience and valuable advice. Never again will we laugh uncontrollably after watching him slam the telephone down after a phone call was finished, a Don Light trade mark. But we’ve got the memories, memories that Darrin and I will hold dear to our hearts.
Without Don Light there very well could have never been the Dailey and Vincent brand as even we know it today.
We will miss you greatly Don Light. Sing with the angels our dear friend and look for us soon. We love you!