Introduction by Joseph Timmons – Xombiewoof Magazine and Foreword by Bob Steshetz
Photographs by Bob Steshetz
The following is a story submitted to us by the way of a friend of ours, photographer Bob Steshetz, who was so taken by this woman’s story, one of motherly love for a son who was killed in a tragic accident and taken from the world too soon and a musician who help fulfill the young man’s dream of one day playing together onstage. The musical artist Gary Hoey not only played a song in tribute to the young man, but played it on the young man’s guitar, in way, though gone from this world, through his instrument he lived once more and graced the world with his presence through his instrument.
Bob Steshetz sent me this message – “I saw Gary Hoey on Friday night at the Coach House. It was an amazing night. He stopped his show part way though to fulfill a Mothers request. The woman’s son was killed in a fatal accident 4 year or so ago. He was a big Gary Hoey fan and a young guitarist. She said that when he was killed he actually had a pair of tickets to see Gary in his possession. Anyway, she wrote Gary a letter asking him if he would play her son's favorite song (Tele Like It Is) on his SG. It was an amazing and moving evening”.
After reading her story, we knew we had to publish it, and we present it to you in its entirety, unedited- sent to us by Justin’s Mother, Sher Kirkpatrick with a foreword by Bob Steshetz.
Every year when December rolls around I always look forward to Gary Hoey’s Ho Ho Hoey Christmas tour. Since the first time I heard Hocus Pocus on KLOS, I've always been a big fan of his artistry. It was always a good time when Hoey would be on the radio playing and chatting with the deejays and his fans. He seemed like one of us, a regular guy only blessed with an incredible ability to play guitar. I got to meet him a few times over the past few years and every time I walk away from him I feel like he was more excited to meet me than the other way around. I think that’s pretty rare and I love it! The Christmas show in San Juan Capistrano is always a rockin’ good time. The set consists mostly from the series of Ho Ho Hoey Christmas CDs with some of his other material thrown in for good measure. The whole atmosphere is pretty festive. The venue (The Coach House) totally is decorated which adds that extra Christmas Spirit. There is nothing that puts me in a holiday mood better than a great rocked up Christmas song. Everyone at the show is in such a good mood and has such a great time. Knowing that Gary is a “Strat” guy I was a bit puzzled when he was handed that beautiful burgundy SG. As he strapped it on he began to tell us the story of a mother whose son had died a few years back. She had reached out to Gary and asked him if he could play his favorite Gary Hoey song on his guitar as a tribute. It was an amazing and emotional moment. I was so fortunate to not only have seen it but to be able to have photographed it. I totally witnessed an amazing thing happen that night. When the show was over I reached out to the mother and told her that I had captured some images of the moment that I would love to share with her. I sent her a link to the images and after a few days of exchanging emails with her I encouraged her to write her story. Featured below is that wonderful story. - Bob Steshetz
My son Justin loved God, his family and friends, but most of all he loved music. He was the most beautiful, funny, compassionate, loving, talented, and caring person I have ever known, and I’m not just saying that because he was my son. Just ask anyone who knew him.
He was born in LA in 1981, but lived most of his life in the Placerville area. Our house was always filled with rock music. He was born to the song, “Breakfast in America” by Supertramp. I was singing, and the Dr. was dancing. Every time he heard that song he would roll his eyes and say, “ugh. That song! My mom was playing that when I was born. He loved listening to me play the piano and quickly picked it up. He learned how to play saxophone in the school band but it wasn’t until he was 13 or so when his uncle came for a visit and showed him a few chords on the guitar. From that moment on all he wanted to do was play guitar. We bought him a cheap electric guitar and he got pretty good at it, so he and his best friend started jamming together. There dream was to form a band.
One day we were spending time in the music store looking through one of the guitar magazines when I saw an ad from the Musician’s Institute. I got all excited and told Justin, “you should go to this school. Let’s make it happen”. He had just graduated from High School and his step dad, Mark and I moved to Southern California so it was a great opportunity for him to attend GIT in Hollywood.
We wanted to buy him a nice guitar, so we headed for Guitar Center so he could pick one out. He tried several guitars, but fell in love with a beautiful red Gibson SG. It was a bit more than we wanted to spend, but Mark said, “It’s yours”. I think he had tears in his eyes, but we couldn’t see his face because he was on the ground kissing Mark’s feet. He was quite the comedian.
He was accepted into the GIT program and he worked hard to finish. After he graduated from the GIT program he moved back to Placerville to marry a gal named Alysia and to start his a band. His band, Shadowproof was a Christian progressive metal band. His biggest influences were Dream Theater, Tool, Yngwie Malmsteen, Van Halen, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, but he especially loved Gary Hoey.
Mark and I started listening to Gary back in 1996 and so did Justin. He quickly became our favorite guitarist. The first time Mark and I saw him in concert was on Catalina Island. In 2002 Gary was playing at the coach house where we finally got a chance to meet him. We told him all about Justin and how he wanted to meet him. Gary was headed up to Sacramento right after the Coach House to tour and Justin was supposed to go, but something came up and he was unable to go to the concert.
One day Justin called me and said, “Guess what? I finally got to meet Gary Hoey at one of the guitar classes he was doing up here at Guitar center”. He was so excited to finally meet him and told me how he had asked Gary if they could jam together sometime. Gary gave him a look like “sure kid”, but then Justin proudly told Gary he was a GIT graduate. Gary smiled and said something like, “Oh! Sure. We could jam sometime.” That made Justin’s day.
On June 14, 2008 Justin had tickets in his pocket to finally see Gary in concert, but he didn’t make that night. That was the day of his fatal motorcycle accident. I can’t even describe the depth of loss we experienced that day. The only thing I wanted to bring home of his was the Gibson. I don’t know what made me think of this, but I wanted so badly to write Gary a letter and ask him if he could play Justin’s favorite Gary Hoey song, “Tele Like it is” on Justin’s guitar. I had it in my head that would be an impossible dream, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I didn’t know how to write, how to ask. How do you ask something like that of a well know musician like Gary Hoey?
In November this year my sister and I went to see Ambrosia in concert. She knew Joe Puerta from High School, so we got to visit with the band back stage. I was talking to their guitarist, Doug Jackson, and he was sharing with me that he studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston. I told him about Justin and how I wanted to ask Gary Hoey to play his guitar. He said, “You need to ask him. He would probably love to do that for you.” That was the nudge I needed, as soon as I got home that night I sent Gary a message on his Facebook Fan Page with my story and wish. He wrote me back 2 days later! I couldn’t believe my eyes. He said he would be honored to do that for us and let’s try and make it happen. I noticed he was on tour down in the San Diego area in December. Much of Justin’s family lives down there, so I thought it would be the perfect time. I asked if he could do it at the Coach House and he said yes!
I had no idea what to expect. Gary opened up his heart and made us feel like family. He brought Justin’s guitar out about 2/3 of the way through his set and said that he was playing this guitar for a special person named Justin that had passed away a few years back. I had dreamed about this for 4 ½ years and now it was happening right before my eyes. Mark and I broke down during the song, a bitter sweet moment, but it warmed our hearts beyond words. It was so beautiful. It brought back the memories when Justin would play that song. It was as if it were him on that stage. Gary had mentioned that he lost his niece about a year ago and dedicated his new CD to her, so he understood loss. The cool thing about what he said was that he was glad I was brave enough to ask him, and how we need to reach out to one another for healing and that we were celebrating Justin’s life. He is absolutely right. Our pain of losing Justin will never go away, but Gary brought us a beautiful moment to remember him by. His music will live on forever. Thank you Gary for what you did for our family. What you did was truly a gift from God.
Story by Sher Kirkpatrick, Justin’s Mother and Biggest Fan.
We have Video footage of this momentous event; please take a moment to remember one young man’s life and a tribute to it.