Richard Edgar Valpey
7/23/48 - 10/31/15
This page is dedicated to the memory of Rich Valpey, one of the founding members of the Honky Tonk Truckers who's life was prematurely taken by complications from a five year bout with bladder cancer on October 31, 2015.
Over his 50 year career Rich profoundly touched many people's lives through his music. His powerful vocals and his soulful southern rock guitar played a major role in defining the rockin' country sounds of the Honky Tonk Truckers.
We Traveled Many a Mile
I first met Rich in the summer of 1976 in a small house just off of Highway 58 near the Edwards Air Force Base turnoff. We jammed for the first time that night and I remember being amazed at his singing and the way he could play a guitar. I remember leaving that night thinking, "Man, I wish I could play like that guy".
A couple of months later I ventured up to Lake Isabella with some friends to hear this "great band" that owned a bar called the Double Rainbow Saloon. When we got there I was surprised to learn that Rich was a member of this "great band". After talking to him for a few minutes he told me their bass player was not going to be able to make it and he asked me to sit in.
I told him I had never touched a bass before but I would be willing to give it my best shot. There was a special chemistry that developed between us that night as we played together and I left Lake Isabella on Cloud Nine. A couple of weeks later I got a call from Rich asking me to join the group and that was the start of my career as a professional musician.
When I moved up to Lake Isabella I will admit that I was pretty green, but Rich took me under his wing and patiently worked with me as I honed my bass playing skills. We jammed and rehearsed for endless hours over the course of that summer and we played gigs up and down the state of California. That summer was the beginning of a lifelong friendship and a partnership in music that would span almost four decades.
At some point in the early 80s, we went our separate ways and I moved to Los Angeles for a few years to seek my fame and fortune. Occassionaly, I would get a call from Rich and drive out to Mojave or Tehachapi to sit in and play a gig.
I moved back to Tehachapi in the late eighties and Rich and I started playing together in several different bands. In 2006, we started the Honky Tonk Truckers and spent the next nine years playing fairs, festivals, special events and the honky tonks in Tehachapi, Bakersfield and the Antelope Valley.
Rich was a Southern Rock guitar vituoso and he had a soulful and powerful voice. His music touched the hearts and souls of thousands of people over the course of his musical career.
When I heard of his passing, all I could do was sit on my back porch, shed a few silent tears and listen to some old Marshall Tucker, ZZ Top and Lynyrd Skynyrd songs that took me back to the days when I first started playing with him in that hole in the wall bar in Lake Isabella.
If I had to guess, I would say we traveled thousands of miles together and over the course of almost 40 years we probably performed for hundreds of thousands of people. It was a great run and I have a lot of great memories of the times we shared together both on the stage and off.
Some people dream but we were fortunate enough to live the dream and "We Traveled Many a Mile".
Rest in Peace