On Guitars and “Rock Stars”

It’s 1971 and I’m going to my first rock concert in Santa Barbara, Calif. I don’t remember the band’s name, but I will never forget the guitar player—Gerry Limpic. Amazing voice. Epic mustache. Beautiful, custom-built guitar. I was captivated; barely breathing. After the concert I walked toward the stage to get a closer look. The guitar player walked by me winding a microphone cord around his thumb and elbow. I conjured a nervous “hi.”

He stopped and we talked. He discovered that I was a beginner. I had a hand-me-down Silvertone guitar, and I was learning and saving for something special. He grabbed his guitar and put it in my hands. He explained the particulars: how the neck was fashioned from measurements of his own hand, how the fret markers were bits of abalone from the Pacific coast, how he chose the spruce and rosewood construction. He invited me to touch, strum, explore and experience his guitar. He gave me his phone number and said, “Call me, and I’ll meet you at the shop. We can talk guitars—maybe you’ll get one like mine someday.” It was wonderful. I was inspired.

In the end I never called. I never got “that” guitar, and I never became a rock star. However, I am the advisor for DUkes, Drury’s ukulele club, which is pretty much the same thing to me. The point is, in that moment, I was mentored. I was noticed, inspired, equipped and accompanied without personal regard. And I am fortunate. Every day I see those same principles at work in my colleagues at Drury. When I look around, all I see are a bunch of Gerry Limpics—”Rock Stars”—disguised as mentors. It is wonderful, and I am inspired again.


Video: Small Instruments, Big Jams