Late July, 2001

From Florida:

Last week I was fortunate enough to see the G3 tour in Orlando, and also got to sit in with them on the multiple song encore. I was very impressed with everyone's playing, and particularly amazed that John Petrucci had written stuff (just for that tour) that was beautiful. Dave LaRue was playing bass for John, and that was kind of interesting to hear him as a listener instead of the guy playing next to him. Joe, Steve, and John all just keep getting better, and that's saying a lot. Every guitar group leader had absolutely extraordinary musicians in their individual groups. Thanks guys, for the great show.

Now, I'm writing this paragraph a week later than the one above. I can't believe the difference in feeling from then to now. Leon Wilkeson, the bass player with Lynyrd Skynyrd has died just some hours ago. As you may know, I was just on tour with him and his band on this just ended leg of the Deep Purple tour. Leon survived everything the L.S. band went through for all these years, and then apparently died in his sleep, from what I heard. He was a very nice guy to everyone. I remember telling him a couple of weeks ago how good he was looking these days. And he did seem fine, although tired, like all of us. He and I sat at one end of a Lynyrd Skynyrd tour bus trying to fix his CD player on one of the trips that I rode with them. He was always such a nice, even tempered, steady musician. God know these folks have been through too much already. Leon, the man of many hats and a respectful, kind, loyal musician, I thank you for extending your hand so many times to me. Godspeed. 2001