T Lavitz

As many of you know, T Lavitz, my friend and former bandmate, died unexpectedly on Oct. 7 2010. I have been thinking a lot about T since then, running through experiences of so many times and conversations in my mind as people do about others, but with both a disbelief and poignancy that there won’t be any more.

Rod Morgenstein told be about a tribute that Derek Sherinian was putting together to T that will be published in Keyboard magazine that we could possibly contribute to. I found it very difficult to put my thoughts into words. I didn’t want to simplify T, or my relationship to him. But I really wanted to say something, so this is what I wrote:

“I met T at a small bar near Miami over 30 years ago. Rod had heard him at the University of Miami and recommended him as a possibility for the band, so we went and heard him play. It was mainly Miami ‘jazz club’ music of the day, but he shined through it. He sounded great, and was so enthusiastic and something just felt really right about him being in the band even from that first night.

We all became close friends over the years sharing so many experiences together as bands do, but T and I especially spent a lot of time together back then. We were both very social and liked meeting new people and just exploring the world and finding interesting situations. I’m sure it has been said by many, but T was someone who could just light people up, they would be very glad to see him and be around him. I include myself in that group, and even years after the band broke up and I would see him with Jazz is Dead or the re-formed Dregs, it was just fun and natural, as if we simply picked up from the last moment.

But I want to go back and point out how I felt when I heard a couple of parts on the first album that he played with the band on “Dregs of the Earth”. The really short organ solo on “Twigg’s Approved” just sent me into a spin and still does with its perfect touch and note choices. There was so much feel beneath his hands on an organ. Of course, the other tune was “I’m Freaking out”. That was really a feature for T and again, the first time I heard it, it just killed (and still does). It really captures him as a musician. There is a section in the middle with the electric piano sound which I loved hearing and playing at the same time because it felt like it was almost just him and me for that whole section. I felt proud of him and proud to be in a band with him. His blend of jazz and rock organ and everything else simply has a power and brightness and happiness to it that just comes out through the notes. From then there were many, many notes played and heard and life stories I will value forever. There is something in every song. It is weird, even though I haven’t spent nearly enough time with T in the last number of years, his untimely death has ripped a part of the past out of the present and it leaves a huge hole. I’ll always see and feel T the man in my mind, by hearing the music we still have from him.”

Here is an obituary with some sweet comments about T in the guestbook link. A friend has also created a Facebook group, both of which are worth checking out. I have also found lots of great videos of T on YouTube. And Rod Morgenstein posted the beautiful eulogy he gave at T’s memorial service.

I think all these things are good for us…

Posted in Musicians.

14 Comments

  1. I booked the Dixie Dregs at my college in 1980 (Andy, you might remember it-Scoots had a heart problem and paramedics came to help him backstage). Can’t believe I was able to get my favorite band. Met all the guys several times–Andy, you were always the front man to talk with the fans. Took T and Alan to Birmingham airport after the show and we burnt a bud (Alan declined) on the way. He was a very nice guy to someone who was clearly in awe of all of what was the phenomenal Dregs. Was shocked to hear of T’s passing. You, Steve, Rod, Alan and T formed the 2nd most important musical influence on me. Sorry, the Beatles are 1st, but you are in good company. Best to you and rest in peace T.

  2. I am an avid music fan and collector. I have a huge cd collection and have reserved two cabinets for my absolute favorite music: Allman Bros, Springsteen, Dead, Kansas, Dixie Dregs, (and related bands) although I followed each of your solo careers my absolute favorite Keyboard Player of all time is T Lavitz. If it had T. on it, I bought it.(Although Andy I admit somehow I missed Rama 1). Today I hopped online to see what T has released lately not knowing he had died. I’m shocked and saddened. I just didn’t know. Pardon the pun but he was my “unsung hero.” All of the Dregs albums were an experience and changed how I listened to and approached music. The Dixie Dregs were unparralled. Buying the solo albums was a natural extension. After the band broke up many of my fiends became devout Steve Morse followers. although I enjoy Steve too, T.’s music just moved me like no other.

    As a group you influenced my musical Life. T. I will miss you. sitting here listening to The Bad Habitz Cd I realize you have become immortal. You will live on in your music. I thank you for that gift.

  3. I didn’t know. And now I am shocked. As a low-level, passionate musician, when I first walked into the Silver Dollar Saloon bar on LI in 1978 to hear you guys play, until that life changing moment, I didn’t know instruments and music could be played to that level. When contemplating career directions in college, I nearly diverted to Miami… but didn’t. Sure, there are other musicians with chops, but the Dixie Dregs – Steve, Rod, Andy, Alan, and T – had the intersection of personality, playing ability, composistion, and a connection to each other, and therefore a connection to me, and for that I am grateful, thankful, and will miss the opportunity to see T play again. I too got the Dixie Dregs to come play at my college. We actually met the night before in the lobby of another college where the Dregs were supposed to be playing, but Twiggs’ had his accident that day and it was the next night at my college that the unnamed song, “Twigg’s Approved” got named. I’ll never forget that. A few years ago I saw a sign on the local music store for piano/keyboard lessons with T. Would have been cool, but as a drummer I didn’t want to waste his time :). In hindsight, it would have been good to know him more. I love reading all the good things the rest of the music world has to say about T – he will be missed. A very impactful person and musician even to those who only knew him from an audience perspective. He should know how impactful he was, and is.

  4. Sorry to hear about T Andy. Several of us LRY’er from the UU Church on Walton Way Augusta were chatting and you brother Mike’s name came up and I googled you to find out for them what Mike was up to and found this. Loved T and his music too. He was a real find.

  5. I loved the Dregs / T. Lavitz and all the Music that came from the Dregs. Saw you the first time at U of Miami Cafeteria (1979?) RIP T Lavitz. Thanks Andy West and all Dregs band mates and support.

    Oliver

  6. I am still on shock. T was a big influence on my lead scales. Such a loss in the world of music. I go back and listen to all of his work, and still something will hit me. Andy thanks for posting this.

  7. I was also shocked to just hear of this. I remember seeing him when he had just joined the Night of the Living Dregs tour at the Pacific Theater in San Diego. Always in awe of the Dregs musicians, I always found I was waiting for the keyboard parts of every song and he always made it work. RIP T. I hope to finally meet you when I leave this world. You’ll be greatly missed!!

  8. reading these words i to just take the opportunity to thank you mr west b/c the dregs’ stuff has really enriched my life and im neither exaggerating nor kidding

    i envy you that you knew the guy and im glad he knew you too

    ive never met any ‘dreg’ ha but i (we buds & i) saw you guys play least half dozen times in and around chicago way back and buddy lemme tellya every time was a blast

    peace to t lavitz and you too and im thankful to say so

  9. I have only recently caught up with the real world and joined the internet. Truly saddened to hear of T’s passing. As a bassist I’ve much admired the work Andy and Terry put together. I’ve followed all the members’ work and wondered what Andy has been up to. When he mentioned “I’m Freaking Out” it struck a hard cord as it is my all time fav. of Dixie Dregs compositions. RIP Terry and thank you for what you left to us in this world!

  10. Very sad belated news – last time I saw him was in LA at a smaller club late 80s – I believe he was with you, Andy. He had broken his ankle and was in a cast. Incredibly gifted and creative player – a great loss – God bless him.

  11. Saw the Dregs at The Saddlerack in San Jose, CA in the 1980s. Was always in awe of T Lavitz – my jazz and rock keyboard chops were nowhere near his.

    He was one of those players who always inspires you to do more.

    He was just 9 days younger than I am, so it was a very late-to-the-party shock to discover he’d died over two years ago.

    I suspect his playing will always delight and inspire. Then play on…

  12. The Dixie Dregs…. First time I saw T was in Albany, JB Scott’s, where my friends and I stood in awe of what was coming through those amps. I agree with Andy on the compilations that most inspired him. 23 shows in many east coast cities and only today did I find out we lost T. Very sad but the memories of him playing hunched over the keyboard will always be remembered.

  13. I became a Dixie Dregs fan back in high school—reading about them in Guitar Player magazine. I had been listening to Al DiMeola and popular rock of the times, especially RUSH. When I heard the Dixie Dregs, my first listen was Industry Standard and it completely blew me away…badly. I went out and bought every vinyl album they put out and even got Steve to autograph Free Fall at a clinic. The virtuosity and musicianship had a strong influence on how I developed personally, even though I never performed their tunes, I learned a lot by osmosis and copping lines that intrigued me. T Lavitz’s playing on I’m Freaking Out!!!! Andy’s blog about how he dug T’s playing just made me want to go listen to all the tracks all over again!
    I only wish I could have met T– Dregs had already disbanded by the time I got hip to them….

  14. I think of those days often.So long ago.Such sweet special memories.Really was hurt to hear about his death as well as Microwaves.The memories and the music live on!!!!

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