Monday, February 25, 2013

Flamenco guitarist "Paco" Strickland and I had several things in common.

Verne Strickland / Monday, February 25, 2013


Wilmington flamenco guitarist "Paco" Strickland and I had a couple of important things in common -- surname "Strickland", and we battled the same disease that killed him just weeks ago at 60 -- multiple myeloma. 

Things we didn't have in common -- he was a gifted Flamenco performer. I was moderately successful as a ukelele strummer through high school and college, and at any campfire where free beer was served. I studied classical piano at East Carolina University, but later morphed into rock and roll a la Jerry Lee Lewis, which eventually eclipsed my future at Carnegie Hall. 



http://www.flamenco-world.com/magazine/gente_flamenca/mayo2005/grandes/usa1.jpg


Paco brought a lot of fun and enjoyment to a lot of people. My wife and son and I often heard him at some of the bars on Water Street. Because of that joy he created, I am in no way forced to be reverent and somber on the subject of his passing. I think he would have liked that.

So here's his obituary, published in the Star News on January 23, 2013


 By Rachel Lewis Hilburn

Flamenco guitarist William “Paco” Strickland passed away recently after battling multiple myeloma – a form of blood cancer – for years.

In the early 90s, Strickland launched what became a nationally-syndicated flamenco guitar show called “Flamenco CafĂ©” on WHQR.  The station carried his show for more than 15 years.

He also continued to play flamenco music in venues around the area.  Exactly four years ago today, he performed on the program Soup to Nuts Live in the WHQR Gallery.  And he talked with WHQR’s George Scheibner about his struggle with cancer.

PACO:

"Bone marrow, I still don’t -- you know, I kind of reject its thought.  ‘I reject you!’  And so therefore, I’m trying to not pay a lot of attention to the actual disease of it.  But it has not affected my playing.  In fact, sometimes you can focus more on something – in spite of an obstacle.  And I’ve been able to do that, so I’ve been saying, ‘Wow, where are these licks coming from?’  Maybe I just wasn’t hearing them before.”

In 2008, Strickland learned he had multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells in bone marrow -- his condition terminal.

On his personal Facebook page he explained that he’d received a bone-marrow stem-cell transplant in 2009, but to no avail. In the meantime, he wrote, though he was not performing his music, experimental treatments were affording him hope.

“Your prayers are most appreciated, St. Jude and St. Peregrine obliging,” Strickland wrote.

Paco Strickland married his long-time partner, Connie Nelson, in a private ceremony on Saturday – just two days before his death.  WHQR’s Jemila Ericson officiated. 

William “Paco” Strickland was 60.


MY OWN BOUT WITH THE DISEASE STARTED IN 2009 OR THEREABOUT. IT SMOLDERED ALONG FOR AWHILE BEFORE THAT, CAUSED RACKING PAIN AND ALMOST TOTAL LACK OF THE ABILITY TO WALK. SOON AFTER, IT WAS DIAGNOSED AT CAPE FEAR CANCER CLINIC IN WILMINGTON.


 RADIATION THERAPY AND A CHEMOTHERAPY REGIMEN PUT THE BREAKS ON MY DISEASE AFTER SEVERAL MONTHS OF TREATMENT. TODAY, ALTOUGH THIS CANCER IS DESCRIBED AS 'INCURABLE', I GRADUATED INTO REMISSION EARLIER THIS YEAR, AND AM NOW WALKING WELL. THE CONSIDERABLE PAIN I SUFFERED AT THE BEGINNING HAS SUBSIDED.

MY ONCOLOGIST, DR. WILLIAM McNULTY, SAYS THAT, 'IF WE CAN KEEP THIS UNDER CONTROL FOR A FEW MONTHS, I AM CONFIDENT WE MAY BE OUT OF THE WOODS. WHEN I FIRST SAW MR. STRICKLAND, HE COULD BARELY WALK. WHILE THE BOOKS SAY MULTIPLE MYELOMA IS 'INCURABLE', I THINK HE HAS A GREAT CHANCE AT RECOVERY.'

PACO FOUGHT A VALIANT BATTLE, BUT EVENTUALLY SUCCUMBED. HIS FAMILY, FRIENDS AND FANS MISS HIM. AND I AM PROUD THAT PACO AND I, FOR AWHILE, AT LEAST, LEARNED TO SING THE SAME TUNE. HE HANDLED THE LEAD.