John Pennell remembers Wayne Fields

John PennellJohn Pennell, bass player with The Charlie Sizemore Band, asked us to post this remembrance of his friend, Wayne Fields, who died on March 21.

Wayne played banjo with Sizemore, and is featured on his recent CD, Good News, released in 2007. Pennell is a member of Sizemore’s band as well, and is a noted songwriter in his own right.

Here is his heartfelt eulogy to Wayne:

Wayne FieldsWayne Fields (1952-2008)

This letter is not only for Wayne Fields, and his family, it is just as much for me and anyone who knew him – and had so much more they wished to have said to him while he was here.

Wayne Fields was my friend and I loved him as did everyone who knew him. He was, of course, an incredible banjo player and musician. Being in a band with him is one of the greatest musical experiences I have had. He had that rare ability to make you feel so good about being on stage with him that it seemed to make you a better player. I recall looking over at him on stage and he’d give me that nod and wink to let me know he was enjoying my playing. This just made me feel like a million dollars. He always told me how much he enjoyed playing with us and how much he was looking forward to our next show.

And this from someone who was suffering physically about as much as a person could. When we cut our album “Good News”, Wayne was just a few weeks removed from chemotherapy and he told us he could barely feel his fingertips. Well, listen to that album and tell me if you think his playing sounds like a person struggling with a life threatening disease. He was the consummate pro. He played flawlessly on that album and was the spark that made us all want to do and play better.

To his wife, Tina, and his children Scottie, Charles, Christina and Tiffany, we want to extend our deepest sympathies for your loss. As much as I or any of his friends will miss him, this doesn’t even begin to compare to the loss you must feel. He was so proud of all of you and spoke about each of you all the time. He loved music so much and he passed a long his great gift to each one of you.

I remember first meeting Wayne when I was playing with Alison back in the early days of Union Station. We played several gigs together with his band, Southern Blend. We couldn’t wait to hear them perform. They were a fantastic band that had all the elements of a great bluegrass band; exceptional singing, lead and harmonies, great timing and just an incredible, infectious “feel” that only a few bands ever achieve. When we heard them, we all said, let’s learn to play together like that. They we’re our friends, but also our mentors; we wanted to be like Wayne’s band.

Wayne, thank you for being our friend. Knowing you and playing with you was as good as it gets in this world. I know I speak for everyone in our band and for anyone else who knew you when I say how much we loved you and how much we will miss you. You left an incredible mark on all of us and anyone else who was fortunate enough to have known you.

Rest in peace, brother.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.