Jon, the One-Armed Drummer

Saturday at 2:30pm I was honored to be asked to perform the funeral of a man I wrote about a few blogs ago.  That blog was titled “Death-Bed Confessions.” His name was Jon.

Jon lived a lot of life in his 65 years.  When he was just 16 years old, he suffered a heart attack.  I don’t know all the story surrounding that, but that has to be a devastating thing, especially given the medical field at that time.  Just a couple of years after getting through all of that, Jon was burned over much of his body in a work accident.  Not many years after that, he suffered the blow that really embittered him to much of life.  He was in a van pool going to work when there was a terrible accident.  His wife was told at the hospital that he was dead.  There was, however, a mix-up and it was actually one of his co-workers who was dead.  Jon was spared his life, but not the used of his right arm.  The doctors wanted to amputate, but Jon held out hope that one day he would be able to regain use of it.  People who knew him best said that he was never the same again.

Prior to this accident, Jon was a studio drummer.  He and Roger Hawkins (one of the premier drummers of that day and the one who went on the be a very famous studio drummer) were called on by Fame and Muscle Shoals Sound recording studios to do much of their work.  Jon played for Little Richard, Aretha Franklin, Johnny Cash, Clarence Carter, and many more not so famous people.  His wife Carol baby sat for Sonny and Cher.  One evening Jon called her and said, I’m bringing home the Allman Brothers for dinner and he did.  He called her up one day and asked if she would like to meet Michael Jackson.  The Jackson Five were recording at Muscle Shoals Sound that day.  She remembers him as a very foul-mouthed mean little boy.  She said, “But he sure could sing.”

It’s must be a terrible thing for anyone to lose an arm, but it somehow seems even worse when one makes such a living as Jon did.  Carol recalls that during that time, no one from the church came to see Jon.  This also made him turn away from the church and from God.  Jon believed that Christianity ought to be lived out and shown, especially in troubled times.  When that didn’t happen for him, he turned against it big time.

Jon’s life was music.  He continued to play drums with only one arm (his left arm at that.  There are many people I’ve talked to who called him the best one-armed drummer they ever knew.  There are not many of them out there who would continue to play in Jon’s condition, but he did.  It was his love for the music that drove him to continue.

Jon chose a lot of bad things in his life that I won’t go into, but in the end he knew one thing and only one thing.  He knew that he needed God through eternity.  I’ll leave all the details up to God, but this one thing I know, I am glad to have had the opportunity to pray with him.

I will always have one regret though.  I will always regret not having gone to him sooner.  I think I could have helped him.  I told the folks at the funeral Saturday that we should let Jon’s life be a lesson to us.  I hope that the next time I feel like giving up on a person simply based upon his past or other people’s feelings about that person that I will not listen to the negatives and at least try and reach out to them.  Who knows what we could have done for Jon a long time ago?

Aren’t you glad that God does not keep time scores or a notebook on the wrongs we’ve done.  When we cry out to Him, He simply hears, and loves and cares.  Praise Him!!

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3 responses to “Jon, the One-Armed Drummer

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