Memorial Celebration Tribute by Griff Peters
This tribute to Wes was presented by Griff Peters at a memorial celebration on February 4th, 2005.
Like many others who crossed Wes’ path, I feel honored and blessed to have known him as a friend.
I met Wes 15 years ago at Berklee. We soon grew to be music buddies and shared the stage and recording studio together many times. I could often be found at his Boston apartment after-hours as well. Wes was cool. Wes could really play. He earned respect from his peers not only by his gifted musicianship, but by his unique persona as well. Wes was quiet. Wes was odd. Wes was enigmatic. He was also a killer player. One didn’t begin to know Wes right away. If you wanted a deeper look, you had to earn your way in.
When Wes moved to LA, where I lived, we hung out together in his first little apartment. We’d sit on the floor and watch a movie and eat pasta & pesto sauce in a jar and basically be nerdy unemployed artists (a.k.a.losers) together. Very early on I realized he was a good pal – one you could call on anytime and just be yourself around.
Wes was quite different from the other friends I had at the time. He was quiet, but very perceptive in the most unique ways. He always had a refreshingly unique outlook on life. In an ocean of mediocre musicians who inflated their own importance, Wes was truly an island of humility and sincerity, an island with prodigious talents hidden under the surface.
I am surely not alone in regarding Wes as genuinely brilliant. He was the first bass player I would call for any gig, period. I was quite spoiled, actually, to be able to have him play all the time before everyone else started snapping him up with ever loftier & higher-profile gigs. Still, Wes was the same guy I’d always hung out with. Despite the applause, the exposure, crazed fans, world tours, changing phone #s and email addresses every month, one thing remained the same – Wes was still my true friend I could call anytime.
Wes was also an inspiration because he had so many other gifts and talents besides music. A natural athlete, he accompanied me on several backpacking trips to Yosemite. I remember vividly being on top of Half-Dome and seeing Wes about 200 yards away waving at me urgently with both hands. Behind us was this huge dark cloud that had appeared out of nowhere and was now rumbling & thundering and approaching the summit. I ran over to him and we exchanged a classic “What the &^%$ do we do now?” look. Well, we went down those cables on the side of the summit as fast as anyone ever did in the history of the park! We got down not long before lightning struck the summit. Wes liked to recall that story a lot.
Wes would often come down to my house to visit and stay, even though I moved two hours south of LA. There’d be no plans, just “Hey, can I come down and hang…?” My girlfriend Jackie considered it a great accomplishment seeing Wes add our organic garden produce onto his increasingly rarified diet. He played bass and contributed beautifully on the music that Jackie & I did with no thought of reward or compensation. We were exceptionally honored to have so great a talent coming from such a pure intention as his. The rare instances where he’d get mad or swear at me were limited to the times when I’d insist on paying him for a gig.
He blew up my bass amp. He borrowed (and didn’t return) a lot of my clothes. He had the annoying habit of putting the most exceedingly unflattering pictures of me on the I, Claudius website. We took his old pathfinder out to the mountains four-wheeling and beat the crap out of it. He played on my albums. He was there when our friend Jeanne was shot in a drive-by. I saved him with a rope from falling off a mountainside of granite that he wormed his way along in utter foolishness. He hipped me to the best music. He asked me to join his band. We played the worst gigs…We were buddies.
Wes had a full lifetime of adventures. He worked hard. He played beautifully. He explored new pursuits and inspired others to explore their possibilities. His music, his love of photography, his appreciation of Nature, his zeal for travel, his athletics, his ever expanding group of unusual friends… He traveled the world and shared his gifts with so many others. He truly was a blessing to all those that knew him.
I eventually came to regard Wes as part of my extended family. Grieving Wes’ loss has made me realize we were more kindred spirits than I had consciously known before. He knew me well. We came to understand one another like brothers, actually. An understanding that has its own roots, based not on words alone, but on common vernacular between two people that have seen and shared so much. It is one of the very highest blessings and purposes in life to understand and be understood by another. The friendship Wes and I shared was the fulfillment of this. For that I am truly grateful.