Blues Legend Bugs Henderson is Dead at 69

Categories: DFW Music News
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Bugs Henderson
Word has been circulating all over Facebook and Twitter today that Dallas blues legend Bugs Henderson passed away last night. A call to close friend and former bandmate Jimmy Wallace confirms that Henderson did indeed die at age 69 from complications of liver cancer.

"A blood clot showed up in his liver, which caused his kidneys to shut down," Wallace confirmed.

Only four months ago, Henderson announced that he was fighting cancer, which launched a series of benefit concerts to help with medical expenses. Henderson had no health insurance, and bills mounted quickly.

The most recent benefit concert took place last Sunday at the Palladium Ballroom. Longtime friends and band mates performed while longtime fans and supporters enjoyed an 11-hour show. Thor Christensen at The Dallas Morning News wrote that Henderson was at home under hospice care and was unable to attend.

Then last night, only a few days later, Henderson passed on. He was considered a legend of the guitar, one of the greats.

"He's the most famous unfamous person you'll ever meet," said Wallace. "He never reached that rock star status, but was revered by rock stars all over the world."

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82 comments
mandolin picks
mandolin picks

It is very unfortunate that another musical icon passed away. His contributions  to the music industry will always remain and will surely be remembered by all guitar enthusiasts.

Dhemenas65
Dhemenas65

Buddy, this is aunt Debbie. Papaw hasn't been feeling well and missed the funeral, we are so sorry! Can u get in touch with me and give me yalls numbers for papawA? Love and miss your guts! We need to get together and stay that way! I love in Austin tx, call me please or Facebook me at Debbie johnson Hemenas, waiting to hear from u!

David Hiles
David Hiles

I don't usually leave comments, but this is for Bugs:Bugs- when I get there, can I jam with you like you did at Mar Y Sol?

Dr. Dave

Tom-hendricks
Tom-hendricks

Dallas is tough on it's artists. I wonder what would have happened if Bugs had got the same coverage from the Observer, that he's getting now after his passing. How many times did you write about him over the last decade or so?

Bluesguy57
Bluesguy57

I had heard his music long ago when I became a blues fan and drummer. But never saw him perform until moving to Austin TX a few yrs ago and caught one of his shows at The Saxon Pub....damn glad I did now that hes been called home.  RIP Bro.

Ellocco
Ellocco

LIVING DOWN UNDER WE MISS OUT ON A LOT OF BLUESMEN COMIN TO TOWN I REMEMBER THE FIRST ALBUM I BOUGHT WAS  STILL FLYIN AND WAS HOOKED FROM THAT DAY FORWARD ALTHOUGH WE NEVER MEET I FEEL A GREAT LOSS CONDOLENCES TO THE HENDERSON FAMILY AND BAND MEMBERS FROM                    JOHNNY MELBOURNE AUSTRALIA   

Allen  Tiny  Pionke
Allen Tiny Pionke

The Blues people of Ft. Smith, Arkansas will miss you and ur Music thanks for 21 years of u being in Ft. Smith. You was one of the best RIP my brother.Condolences to his family and friends.

man_of_science
man_of_science

I used to ask him why he never played at the New Orleans Jazz Fest.  He would just chuckle and say. "What's that?"

QueryThis
QueryThis

I recorded a couple of 'live' (direct to stereo) CDs for Bugs many years ago, as the front of house engineer for Poor David's Pub in Dallas, Texas... neither were big sellers, but both were positively reviewed and contained extraordinary talent and un-duplicable moments of guitar mastery.  It never ceases to amaze me, that even though this man was well known among the greatest rock and blues guitar players of the world, he never actually travelled the road to fame. (Speaking of which, "The Road" was one of Bugs' finest original tunes). The likes of Eddie VH and Ted Nugent would drop in on his shows, yet Bugs himself did not climb the ladder to national notoriety.  He'll be missed by many.  Condolences to family and all... RIP.

waf98
waf98

This is strange. Why are none of the DFW major media outlets carrying this story? Yet, WFAA is carrying the story of the death of some Austin gadfly. I don't get it.

Bob Spoon
Bob Spoon

Yeah, I don,t get it either.  But there is a lot the local news stations ignore, especially the rich music history of the DFW area.   I knew Bugs and even had got to play with him a few times. He will be missed.

Lora Smith
Lora Smith

 Back in 1977 my husband Lee took me to the Too Bitter in San Marcos, TX to see Bugs. He introduced me to Bugs and we became friends.  Bugs used to call us every time he was playing in town and we never missed a show. Had some great times hanging out with the band in cities all over TX. Bugs was a great man and I am blessed to say I used to know him. I am playing his music right now to remember him.  We have truly lost a great blues man. RIP Bugs. My deepest regrets to all his family and friends.

Marc McCord
Marc McCord

I first met Bugs at the Fort Worth Cellar in 1965 or early '66, when he played a Gibson Byrdland with old Black Diamond Golden Gate Bridge suspension cables for strings. He let me play that guitar in a set one night and it almost killed my fingers, but his mastery made it seem effortless because he was such a guitar genius even back then, and he only got better.

Bugs was a great guy, always humble and never one to seek the limelight, yet he was known among the greats of music and revered by them, probably with envy for his prowess.

It is a sad day to learn of his passing. When cancer struck my daughter Bugs was one of the first two people to volunteer to play a benefit concert to raise money for her treatment. Like Bugs, she did not have insurance. The world lost a truly great man and one of the superior guitarists of all times. RIP, old friend. You will be missed, but never forgotten!

Warren Harris
Warren Harris

Through a RARE occurrence  ... I have the LAST song Bugs did on his new years show at Poor David's.  Thanks to Carlos the Soundman at PDP's.. will be playing it tonight on the radio show.

As far as I know, this was the last time Bugs was on stage..

The Sonic Burrito Radio Show ... 10pm - 12m Sunday ... 89.3 KNON  or www.knon.org 

Bill Bornemann (a fan)
Bill Bornemann (a fan) like.author.displayName 1 Like

I was wondering, that Sunday eve (October 1987) - who this Bugs guy was, when my friends Paul and Dan took me over to the old "Eric's Texas Cafe" in Las Colinas.  Sunday eves and music and a few beers was always a nice way to prepare for the coming work-week. 

What I saw/ heard that night...I'll never forget...the great blues/ rock, waitresses dancing around the joint (they even got us up to dance too).  All from a great, humble musician.  From there, it was all I could do to catch him at the different DFW Metro clubs. In March '88, I was preparing to leave the Dallas area for the north - due to a loss of a job.  But not before going to Poor David's one last time to see Bugs there.  We were astonished to learn that Ted Nugent was playing in town and he was planning to show up to play.  WHAT A NIGHT that was!  I'll never forget it, nor the humble man who could play up a storm! 

Last saw him at the PRS Expo 2 years ago, and got a brief chance to chat with him.  I told him every thing I thought about him (in the presence of a buddy who crafted pedals for him).  He just humbly said "Thank you very much!"  I'll miss him, but at least I have most of his albums!  God bless you, Bugs!

Jon Nagle
Jon Nagle

I saw Bugs at the Rhythm Room in Phoenix Az multiple times. It's just a little dive, not the kind of place you'd expect to hear big name acts. He was so damn down to earth. I met him & Miss Patty Anne,friendly folks, not snobby music stars. Never could understand why he'd stop in Phoenix. Later found out it was on the way to Las Vegas & Bugs loved his cards!!! R.I.P. Mr. Henderson.... I'm Going To Miss You!!!

Buck Bodine
Buck Bodine

I remember seeing Bugs for the first time at St. Christophers on Greenville.  At that time, he was playing with Bobby Chitwood on bass and Rockin' Ron Thompson on drums.  He was booked that week Wednesday through Saturday if I recall correctly, and I went Wednesday with friends who were saying, "You gotta see Bugs."  I recall thinking "WTF??" when I saw a balding barefoot man in shorts approaching the stage that first night.  He certainly didn't look the part of rock star, but then again, the well worn denim vest he was wearing that had "Eat Shit" emblazoned on the back in red letters hinted otherwise. Then the epiphany began.  I was so blown away I went Thursday, Friday, and again on Saturday......Bugs played with a flat pick on Wednesday, used a thumbpick and index fingerpick on Thursday, and on Friday he used solely his fingers, and did Saturday night with a flat pick again.  The set list remained basically the same all four nights, but the nuances of all the varying picking attacks and successive nights yielded different phrasing during leads or different fills, each night a little tastier than the previous one, perfectly executed and absolutely flawless from a technical standpoint. Any time I saw Bugs after that, he never failed to impress with his control over his instrument and the mastery of his craft.  I agree with Rhyner, even if you saw Bugs many times, you were still only seeing a small portion of the man's skill, knowledge, and repertoire.....and you won't see his like again.  The word is overused today, but it can be said that Mr. Bugs Henderson was truly awesome.

R.I.P Bugs, a great musician and a great inspiration.

Stevethetwanger
Stevethetwanger

Got to spend some quality time with Bugs back just before Christmas. We reminised about the the old days back with Nitzinger. Bugs was a great musician and a good friend. One of my heroes. I will miss you my old friend....

Tom-hendricks
Tom-hendricks

He was one of my guitar idols. I remember seeing him in Tyler in the 60's, where we both grew up. I was just learning guitar and he was already great. I don't think he ever wasn't great on guitar.

zippy
zippy

So sorry to hear of Bugs passing. Used to go see him play at Off Broadway in St. Louis for years and made friends him and the band. Those are some of the best times I've had in my life, and favorite memories.

My condolences to his family, current band mates, and the band mates of my day Cody N, Keith J, and Paul D. Don't be strangers, you're always welcome here, and have a place to stay.

Much Love, Big Dave in STL

Jpdevereux
Jpdevereux

The cellar back in the late sixties and early seventies was the nastiest joint in Dallas, that is why I loved to sneak in with a fake ID, if they checked, and listen to Bugs, I can feel it right now. Thanks for all the memories.

Eric Mansfield Emert
Eric Mansfield Emert

Once I was sitting in with friends at a tiny little blues club near White Rock in Dallas.  Bugs came in and asked if we minded he play a song or two.  We were then privy to the most mind blowing instrumental rendition of "When a Man Loves a Women".  Now I have played guitar for over 30 years and I'm no slouch, and I have seen all the great legends, but this was amazing life altering stuff.  RIP

Seymour
Seymour

Bug's was a great man and musician... loved his family and I really enjoyed playing with him along with Jimmy Wallace... Bug's will never be forgotten in my book and will miss him... RIP Bug's and love to your family...Seymour

Kevin Damm Hansen
Kevin Damm Hansen

Ran sound for his twice..over 10 years ago....and I still talk about those shows..

Jsims
Jsims

Mr. Henderson thank you for sharing your God given gift for so many years with the world. God please bring peace to his family, and may Bug's legend live on through the years to come. 

Retired Guy
Retired Guy

My condolences go out to his family and friends, I'm glad I got to see him perform many times in St. Louis, he is in my opinion "The Best Guitarist of all Time" RIP Bugs will we miss you.

Gslknez
Gslknez

A musicians,Musician!!! Loved your music.

Cliff Sartin
Cliff Sartin

Bugs was one of the great Rock/ Blues Legends! R.I.P Old friend!

Samlc123
Samlc123

Via con Dios El Fabuloso!!!!

Srblubaugh
Srblubaugh

The world is now missing not just a great musician, but a great man and mentor. We're gonna miss you, Bugs.

james
james

thanx bugs fer signin' my record at schooners...lotsa great shows...great guy...we met over the coffe pot. pourin' you a cup was a privilege.

Bull08frog
Bull08frog

saw him many times over the years and always enjoyed the show. last time was up here in sherman at hot summer nites couple yrs ago

Perry Shaffer
Perry Shaffer

An absolute GENIUS of the guitar, and one of the most gut wrenching, real, honest to goodnes live shows you could have ever been witness to.  I know, I saw 10+ of them all around the Southeast.

RIP Bugs....Rock out in Heaven my friend!

Cruachanaok
Cruachanaok

1969, The Cellar, downtown Dallas. Bugs, Linda, et al (later Nitzinger) playing those crazy alternating sets 12 hours at a time...and just kicking ass the whole night/day! Sharing sets some nights with Felicity (Don Henley). The Bugs Band sure opened the eyes of many young drugster musicians as to how that business should work. Music is the best!

sHILL
sHILL

One of the best guitar players I have ever seen. Rest in peace.

Coach Keyes
Coach Keyes

So sad one of the greatest ever blues guitar players.  R.I P Bugs !!!

Stephenbyrd11
Stephenbyrd11

Bugs at J and Js in  Ft worth years ago  fantastic memory

Ironbyron58
Ironbyron58

Even Texas wasn't big enough to hold a legend like Bugs.Hot Licks & Nasty Blues at Heavens Gate.Mellow Down Easy Bugs RIP 

David Madewell
David Madewell

I used to book Bugs and Ray Wylie in the Eighties. Mostly in West  Texas and New Mexico, they were the most entertaining duo ever. I dreamed last night I was speaking to someone about Ronnie Montrose and I told them that Bugs was next. I didn't know he was sick. He was the best, person and picker. My regards to Dutchess. 

Michael
Michael

A true Texas Original, Bugs Henderson will be missed. RIP Bugs. 

MsHig
MsHig

I'm sorry to hear this.

vietdoc50
vietdoc50

sorry boozegal, mis typed,,,,,,,,,rip bugs

vietdoc50
vietdoc50

bluesgal, when and where mother blues reunion

Jr
Jr

Bug's, It would  be impossible for me to tell you all of the things your friendship has done for me. I tried to tell you a few times over the years and I was always met with the uncomfortable look. The same one you would get when fans would go on and on about your guitar playing. In the end I never had to tell you.  You always knew. Thanks for being my friend. This world is a darker place without you

Pacho Rey
Pacho Rey

Love Buggs! You will be missed! Love to the Familia

Frank
Frank

Played some shows together at Mother Blues and Gerties in Dallas in the 70's...so sorry to hear about his passing. A truly gifted quitar player and special person. Rock on Bugs...

Bill9tx
Bill9tx

Another great bluesman called back home!

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