Smoking and our Guitar Heroes

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Smoking and our Guitar Heroes

Postby keener » Thu Dec 30, 2010 11:41 am

This may be one of the strangest topics ever posted on the ChetBoards, but I'm curious about the cigarette smoking habits of some of our guitar heroes. My curiosity is driven by the fact that I still smoke, even after going through 4 prescriptions of Chantix, and I really need to quit. I guess I am hoping that knowing more about what my guitar heroes did might help motivate me some. If you think this sounds stupid, you are probably right. I guess if I can learn that smoking destroyed the last years of a hero's life, then it Might make me more inclined to finally give the dang things up.

I know that cigarettes were a huge contributor to Buster's early passing, and that he didn't quit, even when he knew he had to. (He and I talked several times about stupid we were to keep on smoking.)

From what I gather from a couple of video-taped interviews of Chet, he apparently gave up cigarettes many years before his ultimate passing, and my sense is that he did it early enough that it helped his health (I am assuming the cancer issues were not related).

Jerry is the one I have no clue about, and would like to know from anyone who was close to him if he ever actually gave up cigarettes, and, if so, how long before his passing did he? Did it help him, even though considerable damage had already been done? Is there a sense that it gave him a few more years? Or did he, like I am doing, keep on despite what they were doing to him? Or was a few years of quitting just not enough? (That's what I wonder about with me ... if it will really make enough difference to even bother. The good doctors and pamphlets tell me it will make a difference. I wonder about happens in the real world, to real people, though, not just statistically.)

I apologize if this post offends anyone. That certainly is not my intent. I am not trying to cast our heroes in a poor light, and I certainly do not think any less of them personally because they had a habit. I don't see how anyone could. They were drawn into the habit by the same advertising that got a lot of us, and perhaps kept at for the time they did because they thought it helped with nervousness.

I guess I'm just looking for something that will help me say "that's enough: I'm done with these dang cigs."

Mr. Redmond, if you want to delete this, I understand.
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Re: Smoking and our Guitar Heroes

Postby BillB » Thu Dec 30, 2010 12:26 pm

Bruce,
My response to this is on a more personal note, and I don't have any information about Chet or Jerry, etc. However, my sister just passed away in October from lung cancer. She was probably 15 or 16 when she started smoking, and she never quit until she was just too weak to get up and have a smoke. She was 57 years old. My older sister, who is now 63, quit smoking several years ago, and she seems to be in pretty good health at this time. I know from what I hear that it's a hard habit to break, but after experiencing the loss of my sister, I certainly think folks should try their best to quit. I sure hope that you can do that so that we can keep enjoying your Chetboard friendship and pickin' for years to come.

Bill B.
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Re: Smoking and our Guitar Heroes

Postby Richard Hudson » Thu Dec 30, 2010 1:25 pm

Bruce, I think this is an excellent subject to bring up, even if it doesn't directly involve guitar playing or our heroes. I am just a poor country boy from Oklahoma that never had the opportunity to meet Chet, Jerry or Merle, but their influence on my life and particularly my guitar playing has been profound. So, I am not qualified to speak about their personal habits.

If I may, somewhat like Bill Bailey did, relate some personal experience here, it may help. There was one human being that was not a guitar player, but still he was my biggest hero in this life, and that was my Dad. My Dad was a wirey little guy that knew no fear and he took very seriously his responsibilities toward his family. One of those responsibilities was to set a good example for my brother and I, but I can remember as a very small boy that my Dad was a heavy smoker. He smoked the non filtered Camels. I always jokingly referred to them as humpback Camels. He smoked at least 2 packs a day. I would have been about 8 or 9 years old, but this memory is just as plain as if it was yesterday. My Dad was a pumper in the oil field, and he had oil wells scattered all over hell and half of Georgia, as he used to say. His brother, my Uncle Clarence, had a small country store that was kinda on the way when he would make his rounds. I was with my Dad one day when we stopped by Uncle Clarence's store and bought a soda pop and a candy bar and visited with Uncle Clarence for a while. Just before we left, Daddy bought a new pack of Camels. When we got back out in his old Chevrolet pickup and started down the road, Daddy pulled out the brand new pack of Camels, pulled the little red strip that let the cellophane go from the top of the back, peeled back the foil lined paper on one side like he always did, tapped the package on his knuckle and started to pull out the first cigarette. When he did, he looked over at me and looked back at the package of Camels, and said, "By cracky, I think I'll quit." So, he rolled down the window, threw out that brand new pack of Camels and until the day he died, he never smoked another one. Now you have to understand that my Dad was stubborn as a mule, and when he set his mind to something it was going to get done.

When I was a teenager, I started smoking because of peer pressure. I had to show my friends that I was tough. My experience was much the same as my Dad's. I won't bore you with all of the details, but I turned out to be a Camel smoker also. When my son was born, it pretty much had the same effect on me. I looked at him one day and laid them down and haven't touched them since.

Maybe you need a reason. Maybe you just need to make up your mind. But I firmly believe that until you yourself make up your mind that you are going to quit, all of the patches and motivational talks in the world will do no good.

It's up to you, my friend, and I say that sincerely, not sarcastically. You will not believe how much better you will feel once you quit and get all of that stuff out of your system. I hope you can find that strength you need.

Richard
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Re: Smoking and our Guitar Heroes

Postby keener » Thu Dec 30, 2010 4:08 pm

Bill and Richard,
I don't know what to say ... I'm humbled at you taking the time to share your personal experiences with me, and to encourage me to do what I obviously must do.

Bill, I am so sorry for your loss.

Richard, your Dad sounds much like mine, in that Dad could do anything he set his mind to and was "as stubborn as a mule." He quit smoking about 25 years or so before he passed from unrelated cancer. I guess I never saw myself as the man that Dad was. Yes, I got to where I could pick as good as him, some would say better, but that was just picking: I never saw myself as being able to do most of what he could do, or as having the determination that he had. Part of it was a generational thing: Dad's generation was a generation of toughness and resilience; my generation was the candyass generation. Mostly, though, I looked on Dad as immortal, so to speak, and looked at myself as just a mortal.

Anyway, thank you fellas. I'd still kinda like to know whether Jerry quit a good while before he passed or not, or whether he hung onto his cigarette habit. If anyone knows but doesn't want to discuss it, maybe you can just send me a private message. I guess it's really none of my business, or anyone else's. But, I am curious, as most of us are, about everything about my heroes.

Take care. Thank you again for your heartfelt and good advice.
Bruce
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Re: Smoking and our Guitar Heroes

Postby Billy Anderson » Thu Dec 30, 2010 9:31 pm

Bruce, my Dad developed lung cancer in the early '70's. He had smoked roll-your-own Prince Albert cigs as long as I could remember but finally switched to Hav-A-Sweet cigars in his 40's. He swore he never inhaled but we all knew that wasn't the case. After removing about 1/3 of one lung around 1970, the cancer spread to his brain and he died in 1973 at the age of 60. I had started smoking when I was about 13 and was hitting between 1-2 packs per day. In early 1970, I had a physical and my doctor told me if I wanted to reach a ripe old age, I needed to either quit or limit myself to 1/2 a pack per day. I tried the 1/2 pack route but my 10 were pretty much shot by my morning coffee break. I then tried a pipe but it was a pain in the rear and very unsatisfying for my habit. I then switched to cigarillos but again found no satisfaction without inhaling. In May 1970, I decided to quit everyhing cold turkey. I smoked my last cigarillo and never looked back. I haven't smoked since that date (except for the second-hand brand). I'm 69 now and my last chest X-Ray was as clear as a newborn according to my GP.

I apologize if I have offended you or anyone else, and please realize this is just my op ed piece for the Board today. My Dad was only a hero to our family and his or my smoking would have no bearing on Chet, Jerry or Buster. Bruce, if you have the patience and ability to learn those intricate guitar pieces, you have the ability to kick the cigs. You are an intelligent fellow and you know that you should give it up. We want you "Stayin Alive" to post those great tunes. Good luck. KTH & KOPAP. Billy
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Re: Smoking and our Guitar Heroes

Postby keener » Thu Dec 30, 2010 11:17 pm

Billy, thank you for sharing this with me (and the other ChetBoarder's). Thank you also for the nice words and the encouragement.

Bruce
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Re: Smoking and our Guitar Heroes

Postby Jim Prater » Fri Dec 31, 2010 12:58 am

Bruce,
Anyone who plays like you do can do anything they want. It takes the same determination to quit smoking as it does to learn all those songs that you play. I quit when my first child was born after smoking 3 packs a day. She is now 42 years old. Just take it one day at a time. Never look past today. Just get through today without smoking a cigarette and tomorrow do the same. One day at a time. It is not easy, but you can do it. Try it and when it gets really rough, instead of lighting one up, call me; 678-617-7767.
I hope this helps.

Jim Prater
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Re: Smoking and our Guitar Heroes

Postby thenorm » Fri Dec 31, 2010 1:19 am

Well, my dad smoked all his life and he died of general cancer that started with lung cancer. He never seriously tried to quit as far as I know and once they carved out a third of one lung he still couldn't quit.

I smoked "straights", chesterfield or pall malls for most of my life. In 1998 I caught pneumonia for the second time and since I didn't feel like smoking at the time I decided to quit then and escaped the damn things.

Now I've lived longer than my dad who died at 68 but I now have COPD which means emphysema and a mucked up heart.

With emphysema you tend to run out of breath at the simplest tasks and, boys, it ain't something they can fix and it just gets worse over time.

If you smoke, stop. It's not a "habit" it is a poisonous addiction that will most certainly shorten your life and the enjoyment thereof. Just like heroin. Just like crack.

Chet quit cigarettes but he didn't quit tobacco. He smoked cigars and probably would have said he 'didn't inhale' but c'mon...


Pay attention Stupid. This ain't rocket science. If you smoke tobacco you are seriously injuring yourself.

(the 'pay attention stupid' is meant as a slogan and not directed to anyone personally)

One more thing... if you tell yourself "you can't" you'll be right. Not buckling down and trying to do something difficult is easy.
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Re: Smoking and our Guitar Heroes

Postby RandeDager » Fri Dec 31, 2010 1:35 am

Well, that clip we all saw of Jerry between 2 and 3 years ago with emphysema in a wheelchair and on oxygen accepting a veteran's award tells me that he had done some damage to himself also. I'm not sure how recently before that footage he had last smoked, but I'm led to believe that he wasn't someone who had given it up much before that clip.

I remember Johnny Carson dying of the same thing. I believe that he even continued to smoke after his diagnosis.

My father began smoking at 12 and lived to be about 2 months younger than I am right now, which wasn't exactly a long life, although my 12 year old stepdaughter will tell you that at almost 62 I'm ancient........lol.

Rande
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Re: Smoking and our Guitar Heroes

Postby RandeDager » Fri Dec 31, 2010 1:37 am

Norm, I failed to mention how sorry I am about your condition. You're a valuable contributor here and I wish there were a way to reverse the situation for you. Incidentally, I spent last weekend in Muskegon.

Rande
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