Roadhouse News - Summer 2000
This summer has been a hot one! Some great things have happened but this summer will be remembered as the summer that Jim Lander passed away. This will be the foremost thing that will cross my mind on Saturday afternoons and Julys forever.
It is important that I write this edition myself. I will dedicate this entire issue to my good friend James Laswell Lander (1938-2000) more commonly know as the infamous Jim Lander. It would be impossible to know me very well and to have not met or heard me speak of Jim Lander. Many times.
We were in Memphis, Tennessee, recording in 1973. I was totally focused. I wanted nothing more than to be a musician and work for ZZ TOP. I had no official job description. I was simply a team member and player. I had many different assignments. I was young and the fact that something asked of me could possibly be impossible just never crossed my mind.
I was sent to Houston by order of the team mentor, Bill Ham, to pick up some master tapes to bring back to the studio. Security purposes you know. When I got into Houston it was late, Danny Eaton, another young team player picked me up at the airport and took me to his house to spend the night. I would leave the next morning on the first flight back to Memphis with the master tapes in my hands but my life would be a little bit different.
It was raining straight down. I was not quite asleep on the couch in the living room in the front part of the house. I saw a set of headlights come across the wall behind me and reflect from the mirror where I was lying. I was raising up to look out when I heard stuff hitting the window. I could recognize the pitch of an engine at high rate of RPM. It sounded like a Chevy. It was a Chevy. A blazer with huge tires and now I could see that it was a 4X4 and it was engaged. The tires were spinning. Was this mad person going to drive through the walls and bust down the front of this house? Mud and grass and water hoses and shrubs were flying in the air and all hell had broken loose in the front yard! I was on my feet and yelling for Danny. Danny was extremely fidgety. In the years to come I would learn that he becomes fidgety when he is extremely nervous. He heard all of the commotion as well and was already headed for my room. We both looked out of the window and he instantly identified the black blazer. He said “Oh, that’s just Coach South.” Danny turned around and started back to his room as though nothing had happened and told me to do the same.
I could not settle for that. I needed more information than simply “Coach South”. Who the hell was Coach South. Danny was reluctant to release much information but finally told me there was a feud going on between his roommate and Coach South. I pressured him, who is your roommate. As he walked away he replied “Jim Lander”. Jim Lander? I thought to myself.
The next morning the front yard of their rented house looked like a D9 Caterpillar had been there. It was destroyed. Shrub hedges, the grass, the watering system, part of the sidewalk, it was a mess. I thought it had rained all night but it was actually water from a broken pipe that had sprayed on the roof and down the window of the room where I had slept. When I got in the cab to leave water was still shooting up like a small Yellowstone Geyser. Danny just shook his head and told me that Lander had Coach South’s electricity turned off while he was out of town. He was just getting even. He also said that when Lander sees this mess he will probably have South’s house moved the next time he leaves town to be up one on him again.
Well, this was about the craziest thing I had even seen. Ever heard of too! I just could not get this out of my mind. What had started this? Who was this guy? Move somebody’s house while they we out of town? Who would have ever thought of that?
This was the first time I ever heard Jim Lander’s name. It would not be the last. I would meet him! He would take a place as one of my dearest friends. One of my most treasured finds. Inexpendable and irreplaceable. A true one of a kind.
I will later tell a few Jim Lander stories. I may even write a book of Jim Lander short stories. Actually I am not sure exactly what will happen except for this: This world will never be the same without this man, without this character. His name will always be in my address book… and my heart.
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