Tuesday, October 23, 2012

"A Tribute to Victor Simon" Thursday, October 25th in Kingsport


Kingsport native Victor Simon formed with artists and musicians from the globe during a music career that more than 30 years.

But his wife, Gretta Maxwell Simon, says it was the performances in his hometown that always meant the most to him.

“He loved coming to Kingsport. He loved doing the Fun Fest events,” said Gretta. “It was always like a homecoming of sorts for him.”

Victor, who used his childhood nickname — Vic Danger — on stage, lost his battle to leukemia in August. He was 59.

Victor had performed twice at Fun Fest’s Rhythm in Riverview — the first time in 2008 and then again in 2011.

Gretta, who is also from Kingsport, said her late husband had a lot of friends in and around the Kingsport area who were unable to attend his funeral services, which were held near Nashville, where the Simons had lived for several years.

“Some of them wanted to do a tribute to Vic to honor him in his hometown. He had played with several local musicians, and they just wanted to be able to show their love and appreciation to Victor and his talent,” Gretta said.

The Music at the Market Series will conclude its 2012 season on Thursday with a tribute to “Vic Danger” at the Kingsport Farmers Market. The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. with memorial tributes and reflections of “Vic Danger.” And at 7 p.m., the Tyrone Smith Revue — one of the most in-demand dance and show bands in the South — will take the stage. Victor toured extensively with the band for a number of years.

With the Tyrone Smith Revue, Victor had the opportunity to play at events for some of the most recognized celebrities in the country. He even played at the inauguration of former President George W. Bush and at the wedding reception of President Bush’s daughter, Jenna, four years ago. Victor played 4-, 5-, 6-, 7-, 8- and 12-string basses as well as upright and acoustic. He performed with many artists and musicians from throughout the world, including Larry Coryell, Bernard Purdie and the Motown Sounds and has opened for numerous well-known artists including Olivia Newton-John, Iggy Pop, the Beach Boys, and KC and the Sunshine Band. He played an eclectic style of music ranging from pop, R&B, country and rock to rave, gospel and funk.

Gretta said throughout her husband’s illness and treatments, they both remained optimistic that he would pull through.

“Our thoughts and beliefs and goals were to recover and come through this. During that time, we began to look into learning more about leukemia. It brought such an awareness to us, and it became one of Victor’s goals to share that awareness with others. We wanted to help with fund-raisers and Be the Match (the National Marrow Donor Program),” said Gretta. “It was shared with us by the hospitals and the doctors that, with leukemia, you often have to have a bone marrow transplant to have a cure. And statistics show, unfortunately, there is a very low percentage for African Americans to find a matching donor. We wanted to do our part to help bring awareness to the importance of donors.”

Victor also loved working with children and had previously told the Times-News in a 2011 interview, just prior to his final Fun Fest concert, that he had hoped to one day open a creative arts center in Kingsport for the area’s youth.

Without Victor by her side, Gretta hopes to figure out a way to carry on his legacy.

“I want to try to help bring all of his dreams to fruition,” she said.

Since losing her husband of 32 years just two months ago, Gretta says her grief has been intense, but the outpouring of love and support she has received has helped to lessen the pain.

“What Kingsport is doing for Vic means so much to me. It helps my grief. We’d just been together for so long. We both went to D-B High School. It was love at first sight. He was the love of my life. I wish he was here with us to see what everyone’s doing in his honor. I know God has his reasons, and I’m learning to trust that and understand it more each day.”

For more information on Thursday’s concert visit http:// visitkingsport.com/concert-series. html or call Johnnie Mae Swaggerty at 429-7553.