Home > Diary, Thoughts > My Heart Is Heavy…

My Heart Is Heavy…

It’s been a tough couple of days. As noted, My friend Dr. John passed, Madeleine M. passed and earlier today I found that my friend of almost thirty some years, Spencer Bohren passed yesterday. Vanessa and I met Spencer in Fort Collins, Colorado in the very early 90’s and we were all kindred spirits in the blink of an eye. Spencer was a complete artist on so many levels that frankly I hardly know where to begin. He was one of the most understated examples of humanity that I hardly know where to begin… and he was my friend. He does not need me to eulogize him, his life speaks for itself and all of us who were honored to know him an call him friend, know exactly what I’m talking about. He was ten years younger than I and although his life was cut far too short, he made the most of it… always!

When he was diagnosed with cancer he and his wife Marilyn faced that harsh reality with a pure grace I’m not sure I could have mustered. I know that I will miss him on so many levels and who knows, his next gig may be the most amazing one of all. You are so missed my brother and I shall never take for granted the blessings of your friendship.

As if this wasn’t enough reality for one day as i was driving to New York for my gig with Phil Lesh Tuesday and Wednesday, I got a call from Vanessa. Our young friend Andrew, the same age as our daughter Izze, passed from cancer. When our Izze was first with us, Andrew was one of her very first friends. We all Trick Or Treated together and well… they were very young together. Andrew had been fighting an aggressive cancer for a couple of years. He was one of the toughest humans I have ever known. His family is one of the strongest families I have ever had the honor to know. I cannot possibly walk in their shoes… I hope I never have to. There is not much more I can say except I love them all and hope they can find whatever peace they need to find. As a parent, it is unthinkable to me that I should outlive my children.

Spencer, play a couple of songs for Andrew… in fact, show him how to play the guitar.

Fair winds and following seas you guys… fair winds and following seas!

You will be missed…

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  1. Marion Barnes
    June 9th, 2019 at 23:50 | #1

    Thank you Jorma! Heartfelt and beautifully written. Your thoughts are very much appreciated by us all.

  2. June 10th, 2019 at 07:17 | #2

    Rest In Peace Mac, Spencer, Marilyn and Andrew. Thanks for writing this Jorma.

  3. June 10th, 2019 at 07:26 | #3

    Madeleine… my apologies.

  4. Paul Karp
    June 10th, 2019 at 07:51 | #4

    My heart is heavy for all your loses. I only got a chance to meet Spencer one weekend at the Ranch. What a nice guy. We talked about Lap steel and our shared love of Hank Williams. I will always remember him doing that spot on Hank Williams vocal yelp with a little twinkle in his eye. What a nice dude! Gone way too soon.
    requiescat in pace…..

  5. Tom NY
    June 10th, 2019 at 09:31 | #5

    Sorry for your loss….like going through a bit of a furnace, yet a furnace can purify.
    Angels go to the families, especially of the young son Andrew.

    God bless Andrew, Spencer, Dr. John and Madeline and all our deceased loved ones…
    Death is not the end.

    In the Jewish Book of Maccabees written thousands of years ago, it is written,”It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.”

    In the New Testament In 2 Timothy 1:18, St. Paul (old pal of Silas) prays for Onesiphorus, who has died. The earliest mention of prayers for the dead in public Christian worship is by the writer Tertullian in 211 A.D.

    Keep singing songs of hope Brother Jorma… The holy ghost is your witness and the angels gonna done sign your name.

    Prayer is the key to heaven….and love, truth, forgiveness, obedience as well.

  6. Joey
    June 10th, 2019 at 10:10 | #6

    I feel you Jorma.
    God bless those who leave us.
    Carry on with love.

  7. anthony tedesci
    June 10th, 2019 at 10:45 | #7

    My condolences Jorma. It’s hard to see friends and family leave this earth. When I visit my Dad in the cemetery, I reflect on his life. Then I notice that I know at least as many people in the cemetery as out of it. It’s sobering indeed.

    Hold on to the memories, they are fitting and comforting

  8. Mitch Spector
    June 10th, 2019 at 10:53 | #8

    Sorry Jorma .PEACE & LOVE

  9. johno
    June 10th, 2019 at 17:28 | #9

    So sorry for your loss Jorma.
    Death is not the end. Just the beginning of a whole new life in eternity.

  10. June 10th, 2019 at 18:41 | #10

    Good video
    Soundstage blues summit in Chicago 1974
    Dr John
    Muddy waters
    Koko Taylor
    Mike Bloomfield
    Johnny winters
    Nick Gravdnites
    Junior Wells
    Buddy Miles
    I don’t think any are among the living,
    Maybe gravenites?

  11. Chappy
    June 10th, 2019 at 19:52 | #11

    Was fortunate to catch Spencer at FPR a couple times…great performances. And to make those shows even more special was chatting with him during breaks. Your description was right on! As I recall, I think his wife had some kin in Cleveland…a cousin maybe? My buddy Steve and I got to chatting with him about C-town and whole bunch of other stuff. He was as down to earth, nice and genuine as anyone could be. The world is a better place because of him. Blessings and thoughts to his family.

  12. Bill Rodgers
    June 10th, 2019 at 21:27 | #12

    I was in Spencer’s class at Fur Peace, maybe 5, 10, years ago, up the hill in the Station Concert Hall. We had just finished an after supper session, and were stepping out into a sweet spring evening – just past dusk but not completely dark. Spencer says “I feel like playing”, and brought out a chair, his lap steel, and his little amp.

    Down the hill you could just make out the figures of some of the other campers; I think there might have been just a hint of fog in the air. Spencer hit a note on his steel, meltingly beautiful, and commenced to play “Amazing Grace”. What tone, what soul, man, so sweet. And down the hill the figures just started to drift up towards the sound, like being pulled by an invisible force through the mist. How could anyone resist? It was magical.

    To Spencer Bohren, the most soulful cat I ever met.

  13. Brett
    June 11th, 2019 at 07:01 | #13

    I always liked Dr. John. So sorry for all of your losses Jorma. I’m praying for their souls and you! Looking forward to seeing you at the Warner Theater later this summer!
    God Bless!

  14. John R.
    June 11th, 2019 at 07:34 | #14

    The gigs with Phil & Friends will lift your spirits, Jorma.

  15. Sweetbac Jr.
    June 11th, 2019 at 12:38 | #15

    Heavy week for sure…I’m not too worried about the Doctor…I’m thinking he’s just FINE wherever he is….yeah you right, Mac. I garontee.

  16. carey georgas
    June 12th, 2019 at 11:39 | #16

    @Sweetbac Jr.
    Remember Justin Wilson? Cajun cooking pioneer of TV cooking shows. “I ga-ron-tee, you gonna like this Cher (pronounced “sha”).

  17. carey georgas
    June 12th, 2019 at 11:52 | #17

    I been doing a lot of thinking since your last post. I lost a wife to an auto accident, two parents to cancer, and have a dear Aunt my wife and I are helping through pancreatic cancer. I view sorrow as a form of sadness brought on by loss. I don’t think it is a selfish emotion. It becomes selfish when we wallow in it. Just recognizing and observing it is part of grieving in my experience. I hope your heart is quickly lightened by the happy memories you have of these three people who were dear to you. Safe travels on the road.

  18. Brian Doyle
    June 12th, 2019 at 23:14 | #18

    Sorrow will come to you…
    You don’t need to go to it…
    Sorrow will knock on your front door…
    Even if you’re not home…

  19. carey georgas
    June 12th, 2019 at 23:25 | #19

    @Brian Doyle
    “…but the sun gonna shine in my backdoor some day.”

  20. Howard
    June 13th, 2019 at 08:04 | #20

    Jorma, Life is a journey. I so enjoy reading your thoughts and checking-in every so often. You truly have a gift, an ability to humanize life’s events. We take the good and we deal with the not-so-good. As my Dad at 95 still says, into each life some rain must fall. What comes through is, you have a good soul. We’ll miss Dr. John and will honor his legacy. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. H2

  21. AndyK
    June 13th, 2019 at 08:40 | #21

    Heard the shows with Phil Lesh & Friends were great.
    I wish I was there to see Jorma sing Pigpen’s Operator, Big Boss Man and Mr. Charlie!

  22. Bob Kelly
    June 13th, 2019 at 09:10 | #22

    Prayers and meditations to all RIP.

  23. Kevin
    June 14th, 2019 at 17:48 | #23

    I had the privilege to work backstage security at a Dr John concert on 12/30/2004. A group of guys who played with Muddy opened as the Muddy Waters Blues Band, then Dr John then BB King closed. While Mac was waiting to go on I had the chance to say Hi and thanks for all the good music over the years. I loved the work he did with Johnny Winter in the 80’s. His daughter was there with him and while he was on stage she came backstage again and commented how well he was doing considering the day. I thought maybe he was ill, but she said his Mom passed away that morning and she was glad he seemed to be handling it so well. As it happened my only grandchild, a girl, was born that morning. We talked about the circle of life and how one soul leaves and another comes into the world. Very nice girl. My Granddaughter by the way just graduated middle school on the same day as Izzy, both being 14 yrs. old.

    Flash forward to this past week my wife, granddaughter and myself were up north visiting my 96 yr old Mom and other family. We were standing around with my brother and niece and my granddaughter was telling my niece how her friends call her Mom because she mothers them all, she always has anything handy they need. I said something about her having an old soul and told them the story of Dr John and his Mom passing the day Ashlynn was born. I looked at my niece and asked if she even knew who Dr John was. She said no not really, but believed he passed that morning. Sure enough she pulled it up on her phone, I had no idea he had passed. It was one of those goosebump moments. Every time I hear his music I think of that night and have always felt there is some weird connection with my granddaughter.

  24. John B
    June 14th, 2019 at 18:12 | #24

    Be nice to have them turn up in the Tuna set list
    every now and then…. @AndyK

  25. David N. Andrews
    July 7th, 2019 at 21:56 | #25


    Voimia sulle, Jorma!