Remembering An Inspiration: Andrew Light
By Phil Hood Published December, 2 2009
I got a note from Jeffrey Hudson of Page Drums, asking why we had neglected to report on the passing of Andrew Light earlier in the year. Not that Andrew was famous. He was a Page endorser, but not a household name. We probably didn't cover it at the time because in the usual hubbub of a magazine deadline it didn't seem that important. But recently I had the chance to re-read a piece about Andy, written by Jeffrey Hudson of Page Drums on the day Andrew Light died . His description of Andrew and his passion for all things drumming moved me to tears and I wanted to share it with you. Because Andy had the drumming passion that is inside of every one of you, and maybe Andy had a little more than most of you. And, so I asked if we could reprint it here. You can see the text of this in full on the Page Drums myspace page.
Page Endorsor Andy Light Passed Away TodayPage Drums endorser, and my dear friend, Andrew Light passed away at 5:30AM this morning, March 6,2009. As many of you who have kept up with my blogs know, Andy recently had surgery on the membrane around his heart (which was from a previous heart transplant) due to hardening of the membrane and not allowing the heart to function at its desired capacity. He was told going in that his chances of surviving the surgery were 50/50. He did survive in typical Andy fighting style. But for the past couple of weeks, Andy has endured many painful complications. He fought the fight as only Andrew Light could do ....straight\forward and headstrong all the way. Andy had been in that hospital so many times that he needed no nurses to tell him what he needed, Andy told them....and was right! Always!
Andy Light was a drummer! He may have hung drywall for rent money, or painted a house, or put in a french door for someone..but Andrew Light lived to play the drums! Never have I met anyone who dealt with the medical issues that Andy had to deal with who possessed more passion for drumming. In fact, medical issues or not, Andrew had more zest for life and love of drumming than any person I have ever encountered, anywhere. I had a badge for Andy to come to the NAMM convention this year. He, at the time, was basically wheelchair bound due to fluid buildup (complication of the membrane hardening). Andrew had always wanted to go to the NAMM show. I really did not think he could possibly do it.
On Saturday of the show, I get a call and Andy saying he is outside. Now people, the NAMM convention is HUGE!! Myself, and PAGE endorser Steve Anderson walk out and Andy is sitting out front in his wheelchair, Page shirt on and ready to go. My first question was, "Andy, where the heck did you park?" He said he parked down the street. I thought, "OK". As we entered the show I went upstairs to get his badge.. When I came down and hung the badge around his neck he did what was typical of Andy..."Hey Jeff, man I really appreciate you getting me this badge...you don't need to hang out with me...I know you've got business here, etc. etc.". Andy always thinks of everyone else and never wants to burden anyone. I was like, "Andy, I was here yesterday. I've seen it. Now let's go".
And I had the best time wheeling Andy in and out of those aisles, watching his face as famous drummers walked by. At one point we were in, I think, the Vic Firth booth and my partner David pointed out drum great Jojo Mayer standing a few feet away talking with fans. I knew that Andy really admired this guy and walked over and simply told Jojo that there was a drummer he needed to meet. As we walked over I briefly explained about "Big Andy" (as I always called him). Jojo was so cool with Andy. Took pictures, talked with him, everything. That ended up the highlight of NAMM for Andy. So if Jojo reads this, Andy and I thank you for being a true soul. Now this next paragraph really tells you about Andrew Light.
As we left the show, David Page, Andy and myself are outside and decided to go see another PAGE endorser, Kofi Baker who was playing a gig nearby. I told David that I would push Andy to his truck and ride with him and we'd meet David at the show. Well I started pushing Andy....and pushing Andy....and pushing Andy....finally asking just where he parked. Folks, Andrew Light (not in the greatest of health mind you) rolled himself probably close to 3/4 of a mile....mostly uphill to go to NAMM! He crossed very busy crosswalks that were not wheelchair friendly, believe me. When I rolled him up to his truck I was winded and my feet were killing me. He made that distance with his arms! And here's my point about Andy.....he never once complained.
I have many stories of Andy. When I made the decision to close down the retail drum store last summer, I had quite a lot of moving, chalking, painting to do before asking for my deposit back. Of everyone I knew (and I am by no means trying to throw guilt trips on my friends, just making a point about this man's character), the only person that came down and offered to help me with every aspect of moving was......Andrew Light. The man who worked hard labor all day and felt pretty bad most of his life, came and helped a friend. And not only that but brought primer, paint, drywall, ladders, etc. with him. If I tried to get him to relax and go home Andy just shot me his "Yeah ok Jeff, now, what do you want to do next"? look.
I was at the hospital last night among his many friends and family (loved ones). Andy's good friend John had kept me informed on his condition and had phoned me around 6:30PM and told me that I probably would need to come on to the hospital, that he did not look as if he would make it through the night. I saw my friend with a respirator keeping him alive. His face and hands were moving involuntarily. But take one guess what were in his hands....a pair of drumsticks! He never dropped them. On his walls were cards from loved ones.. a letter from Page endorser Kenn Youngar, urging his fellow drummer on..pictures of his friends and bandmates..a copy of the article DRUM Magazine recently did on Andy for their online magazine.......; It was not hard to figure out this man's passion--drumming and people!
David Page, Andrew Light, Jeffrey Hudson
I never knew how hard this would be for me. I know that I am selfish and that my friend is in a better place now. Last night a chaplain came by and prayed for Andy. He quickly said..."We can see that you're a drummer....maybe God needs a drummer in his kingdom now"! Indeed, God just brought his drummer home. You're free of pain Big Andy. So until the day where we can have a drum battle together....you play your drums with all your soul my friend. Your music and your rhythms will beat in our hearts forever. I love you Big Andy!