Yesterday, I received word that Logan Neill passed away. Although I was aware of his health concerns, I never expected him to leave us so swiftly, as like many things in life, I had taken his presence on the planet for granted and assumed he would bull-through as he had always seemed to do. Logan leaves behind his son George, daughter Sally and their respective families and a stadium full of friends who’s lives were all enriched through knowing Logan. For those of my friends who not lucky enough to know him, He was a force. A presence. He loved music and he loved to laugh. He especially loved to share these loves and he made a lasting impression on me. Logan was indeed, legendary.
I first met Logan many years ago and we became fast friends over our common bond of music and our broadcast radio endeavors. Logan and his lovely wife Susan Ford Neil, hosted a regular bluegrass and acoustic music show on the local community radio station, WMNF in Tampa, Florida and I was working as a producer on the Lionel show at WFLA, also in Tampa.
His dry wit and sardonic sense of humor was the hallmark of our every interaction. Soon he introduced me to Susan Ford Neill who struck me as being as beautiful on the outside as she was as a person. Their children, both amazing kids – have since grown into amazing people. It was clear to me that Logan was able to attract, nurture and surround himself with amazing, interesting, diverse and beautiful people and I considered myself lucky to be among them for a brief moment in time.
As time went on and our friendship grew, he asked me to sit in with them on the “Traffic Jam show” allowing me to pick and play music from my eclectic tastes. He entrusted me to host the show alone whenever he and Susan needed time to accomplish other things within the musical community. It was an honor for me and a gift he shared so easily.
Knowing of my “rabid fandom” of Tony Rice, legendary guitarist, Logan arranged an opportunity for me to not only meet the man but run sound for a concert he was doing in St. Petersburg. It was an honor and I’ll never forget that whole experience. Logan just grinned that wry grin of his at me, knowing full well what he was doing.
When he and Susan began booking acts and doing shows at the State Theater in St. Petersburg, he invited me to bar tend there. What that did for me was introduce me to an amazing array of my musical idols. I met and shook hands with many of my favorite musicians. I shared beers with a few more and I got to have my photograph taken with James Cotton, the man who inspired me to learn to play blues harmonica! I was introduced to acts I never heard of and most of all, I was able to make a few extra bucks and that was extremely helpful. I could have never had the experiences, the highlights I had in my life without Logan Neil.
During the days at the State Theater, a guitarist named John Gorka came through. I had just become aware of him and loved his way of telling a story through song. After his show, we spoke briefly and I ran out the next day to buy all of his music. He played a song during his set that always stuck with me. It summed up the experience of working with Logan and Susan at the state theater so perfectly. I would always think of Logan when this song played and when I heard that Logan passed away, the song played again in my head. Thank you John. And thank you Logan. You are legend.