billlynchBill Lynch

R&B guitarist/singer Bill Lynch has shared the stage with performers such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Bonnie Raitt, Bo Diddley, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Bruce Willis, but he's probably best known for his longtime collaborations with keyboard icon Mike Finnigan. He is also fondly remembered as the singer of the theme to the Emmy-nominated "It's Garry Shandling's Show" (1986-1990). Who could forget the catchy ditty, "This is the theme to Garry's Show / The opening theme to Garry's show / This is the music that you hear as you watch the credits." Lynch currently fronts an all-star band called The Midwestern Icons.

"Harmonica player Juke Logan and I were hired to open up and play with Homesick James. He claimed to have written 'Shake Your Moneymaker.' The guy was in his 80s and so obstinate. He hated us because we were white. He refused to tune.

"When we walked out onstage I said, 'I have a tuner if you want it.'

"He took total offense. He said, 'Boy, I've got A-440 ears. Don't touch my guitar.'

"So Juke and I get out there and play half a dozen songs. Then it was time for Homesick James. This was at The Music Machine, and the place was absolutely packed with blues fans coming out to see this living legend. The three of us were sitting on the stage in chairs, and Homesick James was sitting between me and Juke. The whole time he was stirring up trouble. He'd lean over and say something to me then mutter something to Juke. The whole thing was just horrible.

"I took a walk between shows just to cool down. I didn't know if I wanted to go back in and play with this guy. But the show must go on. So I get back onstage with him, and the second set he was even more out of tune. It was horrendous. I had resorted to just making rhythmic noises. He'd lean over and say, 'Play.' He would change chords whenever he felt like it.

"So he blows in an ending out of the blue, and Juke missed it and played an extra note. James snickered and leaned in to me and said, 'Never send a boy to do a man's job.'

"With this, I figured, 'I am done!'

"So I grabbed the microphone and said, 'Ladies and gentlemen, Homesick James!'

"He appeared sort of disoriented because it seemed weird that I all the sudden turned into some kind of announcer.

"I said, 'Can you believe it? Right here on our stage, a living legend: Homesick James!'

"He was just staring at me. The crowd was kind of stirring.

"Then I said, 'I can't believe I'm sitting next to Homesick James!'

"Then I said his name over and over until he stood up, threw his guitar down and left the stage.

"They wrote a review of the show in a local blues publication. In the review I remember one line that I loved. It said, 'The second set was wrought with malice.'"

— Bill Lynch