Aw man, my heart is broken–I just saw the news that my buddy Big Jerry Douthett passed away this morning. This guy was a stone LEGEND in our tour stories. Big Jerry lived up in Rockford, Michigan, and booked many western Michigan shows for us over the years in Grand Haven, Saugatuck, and Rockford. He was one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met…just a force of nature. Sometimes, when you were hanging out with him, you’d swear that you were hanging out with the reincarnation of John Candy. Jerry could make you laugh so hard, you’d worry about wetting your pants. Big Jerry got cancer a little under a year ago, and through all of the other things that happened to his body systems, he passed away today. It still doesn’t seem possible that a guy that FULL OF LIFE could actually die. Huge hugs and condolences go out to his wife Rosee, who stood by his side through this whole ordeal, and all of the musical community in western Michigan, of which Big Jerry was a big part.
Jerry actually got a ten-year lease on life, because he almost died ten years ago. He had unchecked diabetes and didn’t know it, and the disease ravaged his body until his dog Kiko ate his big toe one night while Jerry was passed out drunk. When Jerry went to the doctor about his toe, the doctor told him he had diabetes and the dog had saved his life by discovering the advanced stage of the disease. This story made the national news, and I even wrote a song about it, called “The Ballad of Big Jerry,” presented here. “Big Jer” is on stage with us, hamming it up as he always did, and watching this video again, I’m reminded of the many times that we got to hang out with the guy. Good lord, he was a riot. Whether he was on stage jumping on top of his guitar with his 350+ pound frame (“It’s a Fender, it’ll be fine, hell, it’s still in tune!”) or riding our minibike through the streets of Grand Haven, or making a big deal about “Giving us a ‘Glock to stay safe on the road” that turned out to be some school band’s throwaway glockenspiel–Big Jerry was the best. I will miss him terribly. The world just won’t be the same without him.