More on Tom Henderson, 1937-2014

hendersonTwo more friends of Tom Henderson have chimed in to recall his tremendous contributions to bluegrass music in central Florida since we reported his passing last week.

His good friend and radio cohost, Cricket Larson, shared these details about funeral arrangements. The memorial service will be held on Sunday, March 9, at Christ Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Temple Terrace, FL, the church where Tom attended. It will begin at 5:00 p.m.

Cricket also reminded us that in addition to his 1988 Certificate of Merit from the International Bluegrass Music Association, Henderson was also named Programmer of the Year in 1988 by WMNF in Tampa, who also gave him a Lifetime Achievement award in 2009. The Central Florida Bluegrass Association honored him with a Lifetime Achievement award in 2004.

She “remembers” Tom from before she was even born.

Cricket Larson with Tom Henderson“Sometime in 1981 is when Tom Henderson became a part of my world – this was before I’d even been born into the world. My grandparents had a dear friendship with Tom and his wife that lead to my Mom taking banjo lessons at his store, The Bluegrass Parlor, when she was 9 months pregnant with me. He was so terrified that my Mom might go into labor right there in his store, luckily I held out for the hospital.

Many Thursday night jam sessions at the Bluegrass Parlor passed, many bluegrass festivals flew by, and years passed and one day he convinced me that I should get into the radio end of bluegrass and I did right alongside him at WMNF. Here it is almost 12 years later and I’ve had to announce his retirement from his This Is Bluegrass Show and now I had to announce on Saturday’s hour long tribute to Tom that he has crossed over to the other side.

My heart and the hearts of so many at WMNF, the Tampa Bay community and the bluegrass community worldwide are broken today. We have lost a true living legend and champion for our beloved bluegrass music. There are empty shoes that no one else will ever be able to fill.”

Scott Anderson is a Florida banjo picker who has watched Henderson’s special treatment of young pickers twice over. Not only did he perform with Tom as a teen, his daughter Amanda has now done so as well. 

Scott Anderson on banjo with Tom Henderson“Tom was a great friend and mentor to me and many, many others. With the loving support of his wife Chris, he devoted his life to the music he loved. Tom was the originator of The Bluegrass Parlor in Tampa, followed shortly by The Bluegrass Parlor Band. From 1971 until this past fall he also deejayed the longest-running radio show on WMNF in Tampa. His local radio show led to him producing This Is Bluegrass, a syndicated radio show which was for many years the most widely-distributed bluegrass radio program. He was a music photographer and his great photos of bluegrass and country artists both famous and obscure are still being used and circulated today. He was a longtime promoter and friend to the music in Florida and worldwide.

Tom gave me my first job in a professional touring band by having the confidence in me to learn quickly enough to fill the bass slot in the band (I was a banjo player.) We played together for several years, traveled and played a lot of shows, and had a great time doing it. Tom was a great guy with great stories, and we shared a similar sense of humor. He always could make me laugh, and I think I made him laugh too. We played festivals, fairs, parties, conventions, and clothing optional resorts. Those latter gigs on that list certainly gave us no shortage of material to laugh about. And as soon as I graduated from pharmacy school Tom was often heard to say, “We finally got what every band has always wanted. Our own pharmacist!” Such was Tom’s humor, and it never failed to get a laugh.

Bluegrass Parlor Band: Jarrod Walker, Cory Walker, Amanda Anderson, Jimmie White's leg, Tom Henderson, Austin WilderI credit Tom with teaching me just about everything I know about how to be a part a successful band, and I owe him a debt I cannot repay. Sometimes he taught by example and sometimes by explanation, but he knew the music and its history as well as the business. I listened and learned as much as I could.

I hope that Tom is right now playing a tune a breakneck speed with our fellow bandmate Greg Turner, our amazing mandolin player for many years, who passed away this past November. They are both missed greatly.

He was instrumental in giving many, many musicians including myself a start or a boost in the music through The Bluegrass Parlor Band.”

Scott also provided this list of young pickers who have been members of the Bluegrass Parlor Band over the years:

  • Amanda Anderson – fiddle
  • Scott Anderson – bass, banjo
  • Jason Barie – fiddle
  • Jim Belote – mandolin
  • Huck Blount – banjo
  • David Crow – fiddle
  • Carl Bailey – dobro
  • David Beaumont – bass
  • Joy Beaumont – vocals, guitar
  • Jerry Foley – bass
  • Heather Franks – fiddle
  • Aubrey Haynie – fiddle
  • Tom Henderson – mandolin, guitar
  • Angie Hines – bass
  • David Howell – bass
  • Michael Hyde – bass
  • Larry (Bunky) Jackson – guitar
  • Jana Jones – bass
  • Jason Jones – bass
  • Jeff Jones – banjo
  • Erin Prawoko – fiddle
  • Ted Locke – guitar
  • Angela Mason – vocals
  • David McMillan – banjo
  • Alice McKay – vocals
  • Gathel Runnels – fiddle
  • Greg Turner – mandolin
  • Austin Wilder – guitar
  • Cory Walker – banjo
  • Jarrod Walker – mandolin
  • Tyler Walker – guitar
  • Jimmie White – bass
  • Michael Wolfe – fiddle
  • Christian Ward – fiddle
  • Kalyn (Hall) Wilson – bass

Be sure to also read the remembrance of Tom Henderson shared by Jason Barie, fiddler with Doyle Lawson, as a comment on Tom’s obituary. It’s the story of someone who left a mark.

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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.