More details on Tony Rice

Pam Rice, wife of guitar legend Tony Rice, shared a few more details on his missing a show last weekend. Both she and Tony want to ensure that everyone understands the truth, as rumors have been swirling that are at odds with the facts.

First off, she was adamant that Tony was never hospitalized, though he did speak with his physician after the show on April 1. Tony also had a quick preliminary checkup at his home the following day. A full blood work-up was done, and Tony was scheduled for an out-patient CAT scan that evening.

Pam picks it up from there…

“The testing was done just as a precautionary measure, to make sure all was well in his upper torso. The scan results showed his heart and lungs to be fine, as always. (He has never had cancer of the throat or lungs, as has been rumored.) His blood workup and kidney function panel were all normal as well.

The reason behind the visit and tests was because Tony was very sick, and very weak in the days leading up to, as well as the night of his show in Danville.

Had the show been elsewhere, other than Danville, it would have been canceled without hesitation. Although he has played concerts in many countries around the world, it was the first time he would ever give a live performance in the city of his birth. His words to me the night before were ‘Hun, I’m going through with that concert in Danville, even if it means I drop dead on that stage from doing it…and if that is to be my end, then so be it.’

He was not being dramatic. At that point we both had valid reason for strong concern.

So why was he so sick? Because he had suffered from two terrible viruses, back to back, that were going around. The first strain he contracted, had already cost the lives of 8 elders on the reservation.

He has never in his life tolerated antibiotics well, and had just finished a Z pack. There was still infection in his sinus region, giving him severe pain in his upper teeth. So a different antibiotic was followed and he had a scary adverse reaction to it.

That night on stage, under the given circumstances, he was experiencing great pain in his upper teeth, from the infection. Also the mid thoracic region in his back was causing him unrelenting pain. His pulse was irregular, weak, and thready. His heart was skipping beats.

Aside from a brief cramp, that hit him in his arm above the wrist once, while playing, his audience did not seem to be aware of his plight. His objective was to complete his show, to the best of his current ability, without them, or anyone else being aware that anything was wrong.

But he was scared… very scared. So was I.

I had remained stage-side throughoutt his performance, at his request. Our daughter India arrived late, and joined me stage-side, because the show was sold out.

Despite his difficulties, he did return to the stage, giving a rare two song encore. But when he lingered on stage alone, looking out over his audience a little longer than usual, India became fearful as to the significance behind it, and began weeping in my arms. It was very emotional for us both, and I know our silent tears might have been witnessed by a few backstage, without explanation.

The comments I have read by those who attended the performance report a fantastic show, although Tony himself said he regretted that he was only able to deliver his special Danville fans, about 20 percent of his ability.

He did have to cancel a date that weekend, and as much as he hoped we could visit again with Zac Brown in Winston Salem the following Wednesday, he was still too weak to risk it.

Zac sent a funny faced handmade pottery mug back to Tony by India and Mindy. On the bottom he wrote ‘Uncle Tony’s mug.’

The good news is, today he is 70 percent better by his own account. He is downstairs right now, looking threw his microscope, building one of his famous Accutron Spaceviews. This one is a special gift, back to Zac.”

I’m sure that bluegrass, acoustic music and steel string guitar fans worldwide join us in sending our very best wishes to Tony, along with hopes that he recovers fully and quickly from this health scare. We also send our deep thanks to Pam for sharing this personal information with Tony’s many fans around the world.

We’re not finished with you yet, Mr. Rice!

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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.