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Tribute to Vic Juris

Bob Bakert, Editor

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JGT Editor Bob Bakert shares his story about the passing of Vic Juris.

Vic was the JGT cover story this month, the month he died. It took us all by surprise as we thought he was getting better.

I did not know much about Vic until Corey Christiansen brought him up to me and praised his guitar playing. I had heard that Vic had been very sick and noticed through social media the outpouring of love, praise and respect from so many players I admired … but, I still did not know much about Vic or his music. I looked him up on Youtube and was, well I don’t have the words for it… impressed doesn’t really cover it.

I decided that I wanted to do a feature on him in JGT. It wasn’t easy. I reached out to him for months with no reply. I spoke with some people who knew him and explained that I wanted to do an article but I wasn’t able to connect. They said he has been very sick and they were not surprised. I stayed with it and one day I got him on the phone. He was aware of the magazine and was flattered that we wanted to do the feature. I asked him about materials and then I decided that Corey Christiansen was the right guy to do the article.

Corey did a great job! Vic generously gave us great photos of his rich history. We at JGT are very proud of the article. I spoke with Vic a few times but it is what happened in the last few days of his life that compels me to write this. I had noticed that Vic was getting out and playing gigs with Jimmy Bruno and Frank Vignola and I thought he was on the mend. The problem was when I spoke with him he seemed very weak. I was talking with Scott Henderson (who will be on the cover in February) and encouraged him to call Vic who he knew well. Scott called Vic but more on that in a minute.

I called Vic a few days before he passed to tell him his cover story was doing very well and how much people loved and respected him. He was incredibly gracious and so thankful that we “honored” him and genuinely surprised and so happy that so many people had reached out to him. I thought, your kidding, the honor is ours! I had no idea how he had influenced so many and just how respected he was. He was such a nice man, gracious is a word I keep using. I was very concerned as his voice sounded very weak and it alarmed me. We spoke about maybe getting together if I made a trip up to his neck of the woods. I felt a warm feeling for this man who I never met in person and I felt that God was involved somehow in this.

Yesterday, I spoke with Scott Henderson and the first thing out of Scott’s mouth was “we lost Vic”. He thanked me for encouraging him to call Vic. They spoke over an hour and they laughed and joked and had a great reunion. Scott had not been in contact with Vic for over one and a half years and he said it was great that he had the chance to connect with his old friend before he passed. He thanked me for encouraging him to call.

I’m left feeling grateful that I had this experience and melancholy at the same time. I feel for Dave Stryker who lived across the street from Vic for twenty years and went through this with Vic. I feel for Roger Sadowsky who had great love for his long time friend. I can only imagine how hard this loss has been for Dave and Roger just to name a few still feeling the blow. I want to thank Corey for bringing Vic to my attention.

This isn’t a story about guitar. It’s a story about a man and his friends. Its hard not to sound trite but It’s a story of gratitude that I was put in a place to experience and witness to this incredible man and his friends. It gives me a feeling I can’t describe. Viktor Frankl wrote “The Meaning of Life”. There is a chapter here that could have been included.

God Bless
Bob Bakert

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