After I moved from Waco to Dallas, I still returned from time to time to see my family.
And I always made a stop at Ray Hennig’s Heart Of Texas Music.
Before Ray moved to Austin and got famous for selling Stevie Ray Vaughn his famous Stratocaster, he was famous in Waco for his ingenious sales technique.
At any other music shop in Waco, if you asked to try something out, you got the stinkeye, an unspoken question of “Are you going to buy this?”, and a grudging “ok”, followed by an admonition to not play it so loud.
At Ray’s, it was different. He encouraged you to crank it up, even if he knew that he wasn’t going to make a sale that day.
Actually, because of his friendly approach to local musicians, he made a LOT of sales, eventually running two of the three Waco music shops out of business. Everything I own, with the exception of a couple of basses and a keyboard, came from there.
Ray’s was where local musicians came to hang out and talk as well. Hell, when the increase in his business led to his leasing the space next door and knocking a big hole in the wall to cojoin the two, he actually put a big couch and easy chair in there so we could gather in comfort.
Anyway, this led to a lot of local musicians hanging out there, and there were quite a few on the day I went by there in 1990.
We were all talking and catching up (everyone there wanted to know how I had fared so far in Dallas) when a gangly dude plugged a guitar into a 100-watt Marshall and started playing.
“Smoke On The Water” intro badly.
“Sunshine Of Your Love” chords badly.
He was out of tune, couldn’t determine what key he was playing in – at around 110db – you get the picture.
In 5 minutes, he had emptied out Ray Hennig’s.
We all headed for a local warehouse where a lot of locals rehearsed, to escape.
I walked past this tone-deaf moron on the way out, and he had the nerve to smile a smirky smile at me.
I found out later on that his name was Vernon Howell.
If I’d known then what I know now, I could have crushed his windpipe and killed him.
I would have done possibly 6 years for manslaughter, and all of those men, women, and (especially) children would still be alive.
This is (was) Ray –
And this is (was) Vernon Howell –
Burn in hell, Vernon.