Wendell Holmes, of The Holmes Brothers, died at age 71 after a lifetime devoted to the magic of soul, gospel, and blues music. He was a pianist, singer, guitarist, and songwriter, reported ABC News.
Holmes played until his diagnosis with pulmonary hypertension, starting his career with big brother Sherman Holmes while they were still discovering their talent. And it wasn’t until a drummer, known as Popsy (Willie Dixon), joined the group in 1979 that the legendary Holmes Brothers was created.
“We Meet, We Part, We Remember” is regarded as the strongest evidence of Wendell’s natural talent, said his manager, Paul Kahn.
Prior to his death, Wendell was in hospice care, reported the Daily Press.
His brother, Sherman, who rejoiced with Wendell when The Holmes Brothers earned their first record contract in 1989, revealed that Wendell stayed strong in spirit until the end.
“His spirits seem to be good at this point,” said Sherman after his younger brother began hospice. “He’s a very strong character, you know.”
The Holmes Brothers lost Dixon to bladder cancer early in 2015. And Sherman admitted his grief.
“It has taken a toll on me,” said the surviving member of The Holmes Brothers after Wendell’s death. “I miss them so much. I miss Popsy, and I miss being with my brother. It’s not the same, even though I’ll carry it on. It’s just that I feel lonely. When I go on the road without them there, it’s very lonely.”
But he’ll never stop the music.
“I have to,” said Sherman simply, “or otherwise that would be an end to me.”
And before his death, Wendell posted a message of heartfelt gratitude to his fans, family, and friends on Facebook.
“As I write this letter, I am preparing to go home on hospice care. One benefit of hospice is the time it allows you to say some of the things you want to say to those you love and care about. I’m grateful for the opportunity to say ‘thanks’ to many friends for your many expressions of love to me and my wife Barbara.”
Thank you for being my friends in life. You’ve shown me how you care through your many cards, letters, phone calls, home and hospital visits, on line acknowledgements, and more importantly, your prayers. Please know that it is greatly appreciated and I am awed by it all. It means a lot to me.”
Holmes also quoted Abraham Lincoln in reflecting on the music that he leaves for the world to enjoy.
“It was Abraham Lincoln who said that ‘the world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but will never forget what they did here’ Of course, I’m no Lincoln, but I believe there’s an element of truth there, and I do hope my music, whether some song I wrote, sang or maybe some notes I played, will leave a lasting impression. You know that it is my custom to tell everyone who will listen … ‘don’t go it alone,’ and I can tell you that it’s been by God’s amazing grace that I have had a truly enjoyable journey. Its been a great ride and my thanks to you for making it so.
I love you, and may God bless you all!”
In addition, Wendell asked for support for his brother, Sherman. Alone after the younger Holmes’ death, the bassist carries on The Holmes Brothers’ tradition.
“Thanks too as you continue to support, enjoy and appreciate the gifts in my big brother Sherman as he carries on the Holmes Brothers legacy with his own Sherman Holmes Project along with Brooks Long and Eric Kennedy,” wrote Wendell.
And Sherman Holmes summed up their life together growing up, playing in venues ranging from bars to churches, reported by the Library of Congress.
“We were a big fish in a small pond. We couldn’t play much but nobody else could play anything. We rocked them on Saturday and saved them on Sunday.”
[Image via The Holmes Brothers / Facebook]