I'd like to pay tribute to a true vocal legend – Dennis “Fergie” Frederiksen.|
Fergie lost his long battle with cancer yesterday, but his mark left on the musical landscape will live on many years longer than his nearly 40 years making music and making people happy.
Fergie was for me sadly another “friend I've never met”. Always in the wrong place at the wrong time.
My greatest regret will be that Fergie was not well enough to attend MRF3 last year.
I became an instant fan of Fergie when I heard Toto's Isolation album in 1984 and I followed him religiously ever since.
That Toto album remains one of my favourites.
He didn't make as many records as some others, but each time he did, it was a true statement and something very special.
I'd recommend the brilliant Frederiksen/Phillips album; the debut Mecca album was another classic and don't forget Fergie's own solo albums Equilibrium, Happiness is the Road and last year's Any Given Moment.
And all through his long career and his recent years of ill-health Fergie maintained a dignity that few could match.
He was always regarded as one of the good guys, a true gentleman and an inspiration.
And that's true of my experiences with him also. Always someone that cared and wanted to help.
What Fergie's passing does for me is cause reflection on just how precious life is.
I'm saddened to be here typing yet another tribute to a great artist, but at the same time, I'm grateful that his long health battle is over and he can be at peace finally.
Today is a day to appreciate Fergie Frederiksen and his place in our hearts.
Some other fine folks would like to add their tributes: (keep checking back for additional tributes...)
Serafino Perugino, President Frontiers Records: "Fergie has always been special to us. Since day one we tried to sign him to the label and while we needed a few more years to finally start working together, all experiences with him have been nothing but a pleasure. A fine artist, brilliant singer, lovely person – even more after we finally got to meet when he came to see us during the recording of his last album “Any Given Moment”. He said that day was special to him and certainly it was for us all too. I had the chance to say goodbye to him some weeks ago and was so emotional. We miss you so much Fergie, God bless you!”
Steve Lukather: "Man.. so sad about Fergie. He was a good guy... His heart was pure and we made a great record with him. I will always remember the great times and laughs and we have the music to remember him by... Life is very fragile and good health is the greatest asset one can have."
Jim Peterik: "Fergie Frederiksen - a fond remembrance
A sweeter soul and a more radiant spirit you will never find than Fergie Frederiksen. Behind his piercing blue/ green eyes burned a passion that was unstoppable. Underneath it all was a kindness that judged no man and saw the good in everyone. He had not a cruel word to say about anyone. His glass was always half full even when it was more than half empty.
Some people would call that naive. I call it divine. Working with Fergie was always an unmitigated pleasure. As we'd volley ideas back and forth we would laugh like two kids on the playground- smiling when we got it just right.
The same things seemed to resonate with us. When he was first diagnosed he called me to tell me the grim news. He was particularly upbeat and vowed to beat the disease. He said it only made him value each day all the more and said, “Jim, you know there is no road to happiness- happiness is the road.”
I quickly jotted down that thought- provoking phrase and said with some conviction, “promise me you will not write that title with anyone else but me.” A month later we were cutting this new collaboration which became the title track on his 2010 frontiers release. A year later we traveled down to Nashville with Lisa Mcclowry to cut the song with her. Good times indeed.
Through the years we had so many memorable experiences- he was the one who brought Frankie and me to flippers roller disco where we discovered our future bass player Stephen Ellis.
I have fond memories of playing hack doubles with him and Alan Parsons at the music tennis festival the day he told me he had just joined Toto.
The fun and camaraderie continued to the end. Our final collaboration was the title cut for his swan song album- “every given moment” the weight of the words take on even more significance now.
A month before Fergie passed we spoke on the phone reliving certain key moments in our shared history. We spoke of the song “follow your heart” and the video that showed he and his son walking down the suburban street as he places in him the wisdom of experience. The video gives me chills now as i think of it.
Then he said “when i go i'm gonna place a copy of “last battle” in my back pocket and “follow your heart” in the front.”
He was ready to launch.
I think we all wish we could have been like the man on the green mile and hold him in the palm of our hand and heal him. If only.
I told him, “Fergie, when you reach the gates give me some kinda sign that lets me know you are well and rocking. It could be something sacred or something profane that lets me know.” He promised me he would try.
I am waiting.
I know that Fergie will have far more power where he is bound than he ever had here on earth. All his friends will be showered with his grace. I weep not for him- but for those he had to leave behind for we have to go on without him.
Keep your eyes to the sky- your heart wide open and expect some miracles from the miraculous life of Fergie Frederiksen."
The Star Tribune of Minneapolis pays tribute: www.startribune.com/entertainment/blogs/241115351.html.
Frédéric Slama (AOR): It's with a very heavy heart that i learned the passing of my dear friend Fergie Frederiksen. I still can't believe it has really happened. Fergie was one of the nicest and kind hearted person there was in the music business. I met him for the 1st time more than 30 years ago and he always welcomed me with open arms and nice words. At that time I couldn't imagine that i would record with him a couple of times and that the last song he would ever release would be in my latest album. It's an honor for me to have known, even so little, such a man, such a talented singer and such a gentle soul. I hope now he can rest in peace with angels by his side. You will never be forgotten Fergie. RIP.
Joe Vana (Mecca): "Fergie....where to start??? I want this message to be about him...not me....but for me to describe how integral he was in my life and career I can only do that by discussing the way he touched me.....
I met Fergie in 1994 online...and then in person in 1995...we met for dinner and I was going to hook him up with Jim Peterik to work on something...that turned out to be Equilibrium...they wrote at JP's and he stayed with me....
We spent a lot of time back then and when he couldn't sing one day on demos I jumped in...the beginning of my singing career....he was such a giving person...always there to lend a hand...advice...a true mentor....he came in to visit one week and we went together to see WCR a band he later would join, that night I introduced him to Bobby Kimball and they met for the first time....these two were hilarious together...and Ferg and I talked about that meeting often in passing...it was a crazy night....
Mecca was created so Ferg and I could do an album together....I had been working with JP for 4 years and Ferg and I wanted to sing together...JP graciously made that possible by accepting to produce us....he was such a gifted singer....and he lifted the album to new heights....and spent a lot of time mentoring me and training me on HOW to sing...how to emote, to convey the message....he made me a singer....without Fergie and JP I never would have sung, I owe them Everything....
We stayed in touch over the next few years as life took over for both of us...and in 2009 we rekindled our friendship....and his health declined....but he NEVER complained...he would call to talk, he would call to vent...we would cry, laugh and discuss life....then I got sick and he was there...always there when I needed him....when Kevin Chalfant told me he had taken a turn about 4 months ago I left the next morning and headed to Minneapolis....I went straight to his hospital room....
I talked with his sister Char, Kyler and Laurie and it was clear this was it...not like the other times...he sat there in that bed joking, filled with Cancer yet he was joking and making sure no one was sad...THAT is Fergie!!!!
My wife and I headed to see him a few weeks later and we took him on his last boat ride on his boat....he was lit up like a tree he was so happy...so at peace....I called Jimi Jamison and we both pretty much cried as I told him about the trip and we knew this was ending....And then a few weeks back he had the last benefit....me and the wife headed out to it...we walked in the room and when he saw us ran over and we left to go eat...we went to a restaurant next door and we sat with him and the kids...his wonderful ex Laurie who was so amazing to Fergie and his sister Char...BK, Kevin Chalfant and Alex came over to sit and eat with us....that was my last time I would see him...and he told me that....he told us all that...
He had us all in tears, but seeing that he gave me and my wife a religious medal to remember him by....I have it with me always...it reminds me of the amazing man...he always put the needs of others ahead of him, til the end....I owe him everything, a debt I can never repay....but I will try everyday to live my life how he would....and that is the greatest tribute I can try to accomplish....my heart will never be the same, but he will always be there....always...IF there is such a thing as a legend it is him...
Gods Rock Band just got a Hell of lot better today....and we lost a giant....RIP my brother, I will see you soon enough....JV"
Kevin Chalfant: "This is a sad time for all fans, friends and family of Fergie Fredrickson. He truly fought the great fight and deserves to be recognized for all his life accomplished. First and foremost, he trusted God. He would recognize God for His mercy and Grace in his life. When the doctors sent him home without hope, God showed him mercy and extended his life over three more years. He was a proud father of two handsome sons who knew the love of a talented and caring father. The world music supporters mourn this loss. On a personal note, Fergie showed me a lot of love. I got to know his friendship on a personal level. A kind soft spoken soul who cared about the show, the music and your comfort while performing and worked hard to make that performance the most important thing of the day. I have no doubt where Fergie is now. His struggle is over and he is in glory today. Rest in peace my friend. We'll see you on the other side."
Thom Griffin: "I only worked once live with Fergie. It could have been incredibly awkward between us, but thankfully wasn't. Fergie was a truly warm and gentle human being, just trying to make a living for himself and his loved ones. He was a gifted singer with a remarkable instrument that never failed him, even through his illness. The music business is incredibly cruel. We have lost one of the true "good guys!" and his amazing voice! RIP Fergie and peace to his family!"
Alessandro Del Vecchio: "It's tough for me to talk right now. Very tough. Fergie and I have been friends for a little bit more than a year, but enough to feel like soul brothers. That's what we were...soul brothers. We had an amazing time doing what we loved more in life and we connected since the first moment and we always felt like we knew from a long time and always made music together. And yes, our "friendship" really went a long time back. His voice has been there with me all my life. In the worst period of my life Equilibrium has been my soundtrack and I always dreamed of doing something with Fergie. Everytime I wanted to get out of reality his voice was there with that album. It's strange to know that his testament in music is a record we did together, but this makes me even more proud of the path we walked through for creating it.
We promised each other to do more music as soon as he could do it. A promise is a promise so my brother, let's do it when we meet on the other side :-)
May your legacy live on everytime we play one of your tunes and hear your voice. You had magic in that throat and a whole universe in that heart buddy! I love you. Ale, your lil bro."
Ricky Phillips: "Even when you know it's coming some things you just cannot prepare for. I love you Ferg ...you had many gifts and always gave more than you took. Thanks for being my dear friend and blessing my life."
Ron Wikso: "I just heard the sad news that Fergie Frederiksen has passed away. Wow. What a shame. I had the pleasure of touring with Fergie for several years and also played on his Equilibrium CD, with Ricky Phillips and many other great musicians. Fergie was a great guy, great talent and a hell of a golfer!! RIP my friend. You'll be missed. Here's a cut from the Equilibrium CD that I think is pretty fitting for him. www.youtube.com/watch?v=yp-MOVe1mOE"
Klaus Jakobsen (Fergies Webmaster): "I started an unofficial website for Fergie Frederiksen in the mid 90s and by 1998 we agreed to make it his official website. He has since become such a great part of my life, that he will be dearly missed in so many ways that I can't even describe that part of it...On the other hand, the fighter, and the amazing human being Fergie was, that is something I can describe. Undoubtly one of the greatest singers ever, his soul and heart was even bigger! He always gave more than he took! He was always very kind and sweet to whoever he met, people always felt good after meeting Fergie. He fought hard, and that gave him several years extra, he never really was free of cancer. Due to his fighting spirit, we got two extra albums we never could have expected, some extra great shows live, and so many more good memories, for life!
I stayed with him in Sweden for a few days in the summer of 2012. We were talking about favourite songs, I think during dinner, and later that day he dedicated Endless (my favourite Toto song) to me, live on stage, that really made my day! Fergie travels to the other side, ready to jam with Jeff Porcaro, knowing that he had made his peace with God and himself. He went gracefully into his last days, being the steady rock he always was. I will always think of you my friend with a very warm heart, just as warm as you were to us all..."
Michael Riesenbeck: "I was not so close to him, but I did have some nice encounters with Fergie. Right after Fanfields (Toto Tribute album) was released I got in touch with Fergie. Sent him a copy and we exchanged quite some emails the following years. I was honored that he felt Fanfields was a truthful and honest tribute to the band he once sang in and told me that he thought that some of the performances on the album were f*cking amazing (his words). During his first fight with this horrendous decease we lost contact, but I'll always remember him as a very kind person and a world class singer. Fanfields II will be dedicated to his memory and I will make sure there will be quite some 'Fergie' songs on it."
Tony Mills: "Rest in Peace Fergie, This is a sad and great loss to our industry and our times. Thank you for all the early inspiration you gave to so many. May your memory and your music remain timeless."
Tor Talle: "Sad to hear that Fergie lost the battle of cancer. It was an honor to work with such an amazing musician and person. I re-recorded a song i did with Fergie today - enjoy. We`ll stand in the sun until the day we die. In memory of Fergie Frederiksen (Toto) Tor Talle & Fergie Frederiksen - Eye to eye (2014) - youtu.be/Esyi2_K163c"
Tommy Denander: "1999 you walked into my apartment to sing 2 songs on my first Radioactive album, it was instant love and you became a rare and dear friend for 15 incredible years!!! Isolation is not only one of Toto's best albums but in my opinion one of THE greatest AOR albums ever made and you played a huge role in that. You've graced all my Radioactive albums including the coming one, we worked on several other albums together but the recording highlight was creating our Frederiksen-Denander "Baptism By Fire" album. We both agreed that the biggest joy of all was touring Japan and Europe together with Legends!!! You will never be forgotten and your voice will always sing loud through all the great work you left for us. Until we meet again my friend..."make it more bootch""
Steve - Host of "The Venom Nation Radio Show" - Headlong Media Group: "I had the pleasure of meeting (electronically, anyway) Fergie through the ever-talented Eric Ragno. When "Happiness is the Road" came out in 2011, I had the pleasure...and truthfully, the HONOR, of helping to get the word out via Venom Nation. Part of that included an interview with Eric who had absolutely the greatest things to say about Fergie, though, I must admit, I laughed pretty hard at the whole "Peterik Mimed My Keyboards!" story, and I know that was said in good humor. Via electronic communication, I actually got to talk to Fergie a good bit on Facebook, etc.
He didn't always say a whole lot on there...publicly, but he did communicate...and there was one situation that came up...I won't go into the whole sorted details....but it was a pretty hard situation. I actually thought about just backing out of the whole radio thing altogether (among a lot of other things), because there was a life-changing situation going on. I wasn't sure of its' outcome. There were a lot of "what if" situations happening. And I got a pretty quiet communication from him simply "checking" to see if everything was okay. Here I am, just..me...and this rock star is checking in with ME to see if all is okay? That's the kinda guy he was...and I explained to him what was going on....and he came back and, speaking from obvious life experience, told me that "you can't live in the "what-if"". You have to keep working. Keep building yourself a solid foundation to stand on, and IF that "what-if" comes your way, you'll always have something to fall back on.
It's advice I carry with me to this day....it's a conversation I still remember....every day...thinking to myself "here's a guy who didn't have to even acknowledge I existed....who probably never saw a positive ANYTHING from me playing his music in that show....but he still made time to reach out...he still made time to thank me...and now he was reaching out again for no reason other than the fact that he felt it was the right thing to do. Seems to me that's the type of person he was. Did I know him as well as some? No. But I can tell you this...you didn't have to know him as family to know the kind of person he was. You didn't have to know him as family to know he was as genuine as they come. And today, it wasn't just the music world that lost a great artist. It wasn't just his family that lost a father, etc. It wasn't just people like Eric..or you (Andrew) that lost a friend....The world in general, lost a tremendous human being."