News/Blog

Clark’s Surgery and Remembering His Friends

Clark’s surgery was successful! His vascular surgeon, Dr. Heather LeBlanc, was pleased that there were no complications following the amputation of his left leg on Thursday, February 23rd.  After twenty-four hours in the Intensive Care Unit, Clark was transferred to a hospital room on Friday, where he continued to improve and his spirit remained high.

The next day he was hit with the news that his dear friend “Brother” Red Holloway had passed away in California. Clark was quite saddened. After a while, he said, “I’ve lost one of the best friends that I’ve ever had. He was like a brother to me.” They had been in touch with each other until two weeks ago, when Red called and said that he was going to a rehabilitation hospital, and he would call back later. Clark said, “I’m really going to miss him. We spent lots of time together. Played lots of gigs.”

The last time that they played together was at the “2007 Clark Terry Jazz Festival,” sponsored by the Department of Music at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. As one of the featured celebrity artists on stage and in master classes, Red brought the house down with his signature rendition of “Locksmith Blues.” To hear an earlier recording of it, click here.

Hours later, while Clark was trying to accept the sad news about Red, we were told that Maurice Andre had passed away in France. Clark couldn’t talk about it initially. Later he said, “Maurice was a great trumpeter. A great musician. One of my all-time favorites. We had a lot of respect and admiration for each other.” To see one of Maurice’s youTube performances, click here.

Maurice’s quote that is published within the first few pages of Clark’s autobiography says, “The one I admire without restriction is Clark Terry, whose pronunciation at the trumpet or bugle is a model of sharpness, clearness, and authority. A model which is given with generosity to all of those who want to play this instrument…the way it should be played.

In the midst of recuperating from surgery, to have heard such sad news was quite challenging for Clark, as you can imagine, especially since it had only been a month earlier when he’d heard the news that his long-time friend John Levy had passed away just months before his one-hundredth birthday. Clark said, “John was such a beautiful cat. A master musician and a beautiful friend.” If you’d like to post a remembrance message for John, please visit www.lushlife.com.

When Mike Vax drove from Tyler, Texas on Sunday, between gigs from his multi-state clinic tour, to visit with Clark in the hospital, it was truly a God-send. Clark’s face lit up when he heard Mike’s voice and they hugged each other. They talked about the days back in the ‘70’s when they were on tour with Clark’s Big Bad Band, laughing about some of the road challenges they had gone through, and the incredible times they’d shared.

It was exactly what Clark needed to lift his spirit. Mike shared some CD’s of recordings they had made, made speakerphone calls to some of their friends, played his trumpet, and talked about how much he loves Clark’s book. He said, “I was cracking up when I read the first few chapters. It reads like you’re sitting there talking to me, Clark.  I wanted to bring it with me on this tour, but Peg (his wife) wanted to read it, too. So, I’m going to download a copy on my computer.” For more information about Mike, please visit his website at: www.mikevax.net.

Clark and Mike Vax

Mike was very complimentary of Clark’s Van Dyke beard, and he took lots of photos. He didn’t ask about Clark’s missing front tooth that mysteriously disappeared about a month ago. When I asked Clark where it was, he said, “I ate it.” I asked him how it tasted, and he said, “Stale.”

I found out later that he didn’t really eat it, but no one knew where it was. It was an old implant that had come out several times before, so I guess we’ll make a visit to his dentist when Clark is home and feeling better.

Mike and I shared some of the posts on Clark’s website, which always makes Clark smile, and we discussed the rehabilitation that has been recommended by Dr. Simmie Armstrong. Rehab is necessary to help improve Clark’s upper-body strength and provide new maneuvering techniques. Clark said, “I can do those exercises at home,” but we encouraged him to work with the professionals at the hospitals for maximum results. Finally, after a very long discussion, Clark said, “Okay, I’ll do it.”

Please join us in prayer for the families of Red, Maurice, and John, as we remember them and continue to celebrate their incredible contributions in music. Also, please continue praying for Clark’s recovery, and know that your posts on his website make a huge impact toward keeping his spirit high.

We love you, and we thank God for you all!

Blessings,
Gwen

| general | 29 Comments

Quitting Is Not An Option!!!

Clark’s doctors are pleased that the amputation site on his right leg is healing very well. We wish that the news about his left leg was as positive. We were all hoping that various therapies would have solved the diabetes-related circulatory deficiencies in his left leg. No one wanted Clark to suffer another amputation, but this condition has become critical and his need for pain medication has escalated.

After we prayed about it, Clark said that he wanted to talk with his doctors one more time. Dr. Simmie Armstrong and Dr. Heather LeBlanc explained the pros and cons, and that waiting any longer would be life-threatening. Later, when we discussed their recommendations, Clark said, “Well, let’s do what we’ve got to do and get it done!”

His high spirits were amazing when he was admitted into the hospital on Wednesday, February 15th, with surgery planned for next week. Honestly, it is phenomenal to witness his awesome passion for overcoming health challenges. He said, “It’s not easy. Believe me! But quitting is not an option. Never has been and never will be. I know that Big Prez (his nickname for God) is with me. Been with me all of my life.”

One of his students, Quincy Cavers, said, “Whenever I get bogged down, I think about Cee Tee and how he handles things, then I feel like I can make it. He’s such an inspiration.”

While I was with him last night in his room, one of his nurses told him that she had seen his “Mumbles” video on his website. When she asked him if he still sings “Mumbles,” he said, “Once a mumbler, always a mumbler.”

Last week, Kevin Padian and John “Faithful” Simon came to visit Clark at home. They were both raving about Clark’s book. Kevin is a curator and a paleontology professor at the University of California. He is also one of their editorial board members who voted for the publication of Clark’s book. He said, “Clark has always been my favorite jazz trumpeter of all time.”

John (pictured on the left above) is mentioned several times in Clark’s book for standing beside him through many health challenges. “I had to come and spend some time with him. He means a lot to me.” John and Quincy moved the keyboard from the living room so that they could play some music for Clark in our bedroom. He was smiling a lot, and singing along with the tunes they played – John on flute and keyboard, and Quincy on sax. John’s website can be viewed at www.johndavidsimon.com. They had a great time for hours!

When we learned that Terri Lyne Carrington had won a Grammy in the “Best Jazz Vocal Album” category for her latest CD – “The Mosaic Project,” Clark called her and said, “I’m so proud of you! I love you and God bless you!” She’s mentioned in his book as a “power hitter.” Their relationship goes back to when she was a little girl, and it’s always a joy to see the big smiles on his face when he talks with her. For information about her award-winning recording, please visit www.terrilynecarrington.com.

We hope that you all had a great Valentine’s Day. We celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary at home on the 14th, and it was filled with love, complete with gorgeous flowers, loving phone calls and thoughtful gifts from friends and family. I bought us a four-foot teddy bear, and he got a b-i-g kick out of it. He was sooooo happy as I read him your wonderful cards and website posts. When I finished, he said, “I’m very thankful to Big Prez for sending me so much love!”

We plan to have our anniversary photo done at a later time when he’s feeling better. In the meantime, please join me in staying positive as we continue our prayers for his healing.

Blessings and love,
Gwen

| general | 38 Comments

Clark Is Home!

When he was released from the hospital, he sang, “Going Home,” all the way through the corridors and he didn’t stop until we were in the car. After being home for a week, some new challenges developed and he had to be readmitted. The next week when things were stabilized, he came home again. He said, “I hope I’ll get to stay at home this time.”

We’re all grateful to God that he’s improving daily. He says, “My biggest challenge, now, is keeping up with my physical therapy.” He smiled before continuing, “I don’t have any ‘shipiphany’ in the house. I’m gonna keep on looking for it until I find it, and then I’ll continue my exercises.”

For the first time in a while, he’s in a joking mood as you can see. There have been no new developments that could require another hospitalization, so I’m sure he’ll do what he should to build up his stamina. He has told me not to make a big fuss about it. He said, “I’ll lace up my bootstraps and wade on through when I’m ready.” The word “feisty” would be an understatement. We can all tell that he’s truly feeling better, and we thank God for that!

As I read each of your messages to him, the smiles on his face are very telling of the joy that you’re bringing. He loves to hear that you’re enjoying his book and his music. Hearing about the fond memories of times that you’ve spent with him really lifts his spirits, too. We sincerely appreciate all of your well wishes and loving prayers.

On February 14th, we’ll be celebrating our twentieth wedding anniversary! Since we met twenty-two years ago, we’ve had a great time being on the “merry-go-round” (as he calls it) of Clark’s gigs, and sharing the company of so many incredibly wonderful people. We’re looking forward to many more years together. We’d like for you to celebrate with us, and we hope to see you soon.

The only anniversary gift I’ve requested from him is that we have a photo taken together. When I asked what he would like, he said, “All I want is you, and to stay out of that hospital.”

Please keep the posts coming. They are so healing!

Blessings and love,
Gwen

| general | 29 Comments

Clark Is Coming Home!

He said, “Man! I’m so glad that Big Prez gave me a green light, and I’ll do my best to make it down the next road.”

On Thursday afternoon, I met with Dr. Jacqueline Frigon who is the head doctor for the physical rehabilitation wing of the hospital where Clark has been for the past few months. When she informed me about her recommendation for his release, I closed my eyes and said a prayer of thanks to God! I thanked Him for all of the doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and personal health aides – and especially for Dr. Simmie Armstrong (Clark’s Primary Care Physician) who stuck with us all the way and never gave up.

Your love helped us to get to this point! The visits, cards, phone calls, tributes, news articles, and messages posted on Clark’s site and on your Facebook pages have been so encouraging. We are deeply grateful, and we thank God for the miracle of Clark being able to continue his recuperation at home.

We’ll do our very best to make him comfortable and assist with his exercise routines. Professional services such as Home Care Nurses will visit three times a week to help with additional medical necessities between doctor’s appointments.

He was also excited when I told him that Celine Peterson is doing a web radio tribute to him this coming Sunday, January 15th at 10:00 p.m. EST on JAZZ.FM91. As many of you know, she is the daughter of Oscar and Kelly Peterson, and she’s also Clark’s goddaughter. Please click here to read all about it in JazzTimes magazine.

Please click here to listen. We wish you the best, Celine!

Last weekend, I attended the Jazz Education Network (JEN) Conference in Louisville, Kentucky. It was phenomenal!

There were lots of musicians in attendance, more than one hundred vendor tables and exhibits, plenty of workshops, panel discussions, presentations, and some really great jazz. Friends that I hadn’t seen in a long time were there to personally deliver their heartfelt sentiments for Clark.

Hundreds of people stopped by our “Clark Terry Autobiography” table, and our friends, Sherry Witt and Dawn DeBlaze, were there to help. Everyone wrote well wishes for Clark on a huge canvas that was eight feet by four feet, which I plan to make into an incredible wall banner. We photographed friends and fans holding Clark’s 2010 Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award, and we sold dozens of his autobiography which had his authentic “thumbprint” autograph. Our first sale was to saxophonist, Bobby Watson.

David Baker honored us by autographing his wonderful book – “David Baker: A Legacy in Music.” Afterwards, he went to a really nice celebration of his 80th birthday. We wish you many happy returns, David! I can’t wait to share your book with Clark.

On Saturday, just before the exhibits were closed, we had a drawing for a free copy of Clark’s book. It began with a blues serenade acapella by Chad Carter – “Hello Little Girl,” which we all enjoyed tremendously! Chad’s mentor is Ernie Andrews who is a true master, as we all know.

Our volunteer for the drawing was Monika Herzig, the author/pianist who worked with David on his book. As people gathered around, we all watched while she closed her eyes and rummaged through the dozens of entries. Finally, she drew a winner – Steve Wiest – Director of the North Texas One O’Clock Lab Band, and a multiple Grammy-nominated composer and trombonist. Someone located him a few minutes later and when he claimed his prize book, he said, “I’ve never won anything in my life!” Congratulations, Steve.

Although most of my time was spent at our table, I did have a chance to catch a few performances, including one with Laila Smith (vocalist) and Chase Morrin (pianist). Those two young musicians are quite talented, and I hope that Clark will get to hear them.

On the last night of the conference, I attended a tribute to the great Benny Carter on his centennial anniversary. Mel Martin and the Benny Carter Tribute Band performed, featuring Bobby Watson, Steve Kirby, Jeff Mars and Don Friedman. They were absolutely awesome! Don has played with Clark for more than fifty years.

When I returned home, Clark and I had a great time as I filled him in on the details of the JEN Conference. He said, “I hope to be there next year.”

Please pray that he’ll keep on keepin’ on and attend the 2013 JEN Conference!

Blessings and love,
Gwen

| Clark - the book, general | 22 Comments

Happy New Year!

We hope that you enjoyed bringing in 2012! Our celebration included, saying prayers, reminiscing and discussing plans for the future, and listening to some great music. I told Clark some of the latest jokes that I’d heard, and we talked with friends on the phone. Most of all, he enjoyed hearing me read the latest messages from all of you. He loves what you’ve written so much, until I had to re-read some of the older messages. When my throat became dry, I told him that I needed to get some water but he said, “Read the next one!”

I asked him what his New Year’s resolution was and he said, “To keep on keepin’ on.”  As he continues to improve, he’s not missing a beat. He’s been giving lessons to some of his students in person and over the phone, and encouraging friends with health challenges. His longtime friend Red Holloway suffered a stroke a few months ago, but was recently released from a hospital in California. Clark said, “Hang on in there, Brother Red. That’s what we’ve got to do.”

We hope you’ll join us in praying for Red Holloway and others who are sick. Your prayers are miraculous! They have certainly helped Clark. Please keep them coming.

When Clark’s autobiography was released by the University of California Press, I told him that we’d received many requests for him to autograph his new book. He has arthritis in his hands and has difficulty in holding a pen. He said, “Well, I can’t write, but I’ve got thumbs.” So, we’ve had a lot of fun helping him to place his thumbprint on the inside page. On this photo that I took in his hospital room a few weeks ago, our friend George Pettigrew was there to help with the “thumbprint project.”

On January 6, 2012, a few hundred copies of his “thumbprinted” autobiography will be available at the Jazz Education Network convention in Louisville, Kentucky. Since Clark isn’t able to attend, he asked that I go and represent him. So, I’ll be there along with our friends, Dawn DeBlaze and Sherry Witt. Please go to the home page of Clark’s site and click on “The Book” to read the wonderful book reviews that he has received. And if you happen to attend the JEN convention, please stop by our table which is #2 (close the Visitor Bureau table) to say hello and sign the “surprise get well book” for Clark.

We hope that 2012 will bring you prosperity and joy, and realization of your dreams. Of course, it is our dream that Clark will be able to come home soon. If you have a few moments, please continue to post your messages in his Guest Book. Your comments make him so happy, and they keep him feeling “connected” to you. Your words are truly appreciated, and I look forward to reading them to him.

Blessings and hugs,
Gwen

| Clark - the book, general | 10 Comments