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EULOGY

Here is the translation of the Eulogy which was given at John's Funeral by his friend Eberhard Kerker

Dear Linda, Dear Mary Faith, Dear Bill and Family in Seattle,

Dear Friends and Companions of John Pearse here at the graveyard in Besigheim,
and all his Friends from afar (in Germany and abroad), who cannot take part in the funeral, but who are nevertheless with us today.

Linda has asked me to say a few personal words about John and his last years.

We have come together today to say goodbye to John Pearse, who passed away at about 1 am on Friday, October 31st after a long and heavy illness, in the Bietigheim nursing home.

John died in his sleep, his heart apparently stopped working.

He had completely relaxed and peaceful features, as Linda and I said goodbye to him the morning after.

John turned 69 last September.

I cannot and will not say much about John's life in the 1950s and 60s, since many of his companions present here know him well from that time. Burg-Waldeck is maybe a keyword here.

John's distinguishing characteristics were, next to his important contributions and numerous works, musical as well as literary, in the fields of the folk-, blues-, ragtime-music: lecturer, author, producer, inventor, developer, enterpreneur, collector, cosmopolitan, bon vivant, fighter; he was erudite, honored and ennobled, friendly and open for everything.
Everybody here could add many more characteristics to that list.

Here in Germany, during the 1960s, John had rescued the acoustic guitar from the nature-traveller- and campfire-movement and taught that one could do many more things with that instrument than merely to use it as a background instrument, or restrict it to the field of classical music.

He had triggered a guitar boom in the 1960s and 70s in Germany, which spread worldwide; especially with his guitar lessons on different international TV channels. Today one would label these shows "cult".

The German magazine "Der Stern" covered this boom and its source John Pearse in an article in the early 70s, which was sent to us three years ago. In its introduction, John is described as the most famous person on German TV after Sesame Street's Cookie Monster. As I translated that article to John, he laughed loudly and heartily. So much about his popularity, out of which he never made a big deal. The same goes for his titles. John was just a human being and a friend, and he loved his fellow human beings, no matter what their social position.

Personally, I had first contact with John Pearse the guitar-player during the late 1960s, through just those TV shows and also in concerts, as I was a young boy trying to learn the guitar. Finally here was a kind of guitar music, one calls it "unplugged today", next to the electric music, with which we boys back then identified. Blues, Folk, Rhythm, Licks, Rolls, hardly ever heard of here on an acoustic guitar. But we were crazy about playing like that on such a guitar.

After one of his concerts, I was even allowed to touch his legendary "Gwendoline"; I almost exploded with pride.

During the 70s, our contact was restricted to a few concerts and small talks afterwards, until it broke off altogether. At some point I learned that John had settled down in the States, where he produced guitar strings and accessories.

In the 1990s, I ran into John accidentally on his booth on the Frankfurt Music exhibition. I got to know Linda and Mary Faith and learned about his company. To the following annual exhibitions my son Christian and I brought some bottles of swabian wine, since John had told us that he would love those wines so very much. We had great conversations, during which he showed us his newewst guitars or inventions.

In 2004 his wife Linda told me that they had bought a house in Germany. Answering my question, where exactly, I learned: in Besigheim. I then explained to her that this town is only a few miles away from my home. We thus agreed to get together, in case they needed any help there.

And thus, out of small gestures of help, developed over the years an intense friendship with John and Linda. The idol of my youth became my friend. In the first two years, during which they still spent time in Pennsylvania, we had, when both stayed in Besigheim for a few months, a wonderful time.

John and Linda's house was always open and we got to know our respective friends. All rich with music, guitar-playing, story-telling. I finally learned to play the guitar from John, as I always wanted. He was in great shape, even though he was handicapped and had to walk on canes due to a medical "accident" from the 80s. I heard about how he was completely paralyzed after the accident, and about how his desire to play the guitar again made him struggle, and indeed, successfully. He was able to play the guitar again.

John and Linda were popular and respected with everyone in the neighborhood, and always welcome guests.

John loved Besigheim and the area, it had become his home and it was where he wanted to spend the rest of his life. In the fall of 2006 the final relocation from Pennsylvania took place.

At that time John was having serious health problems, which he did not want to acknowledge. Dependent on the wheelchair despite therapeutic measures, there followed a time of numerous, shorter and longer, stays in the hospital and constant visits to the doctor.
But his mind and his fingers for playing the guitar still worked. His merry whistling could be heard in the old town of Besigheim, and his friend Johnny often asked me, how such an ill man could spread so much happiness and hope.

During his time in Besigheim, until late 2006, John had performed several well-attended concerts in Germany, solo or with his friend Colin. And we made plans for further concerts, a CD, had ideas about guitar accessories..

In early 2007 John began to retreat from his private and public life. The whistling stopped, his fingers caused problems with playing his guitar and visits burdened him. Under these circumstances there was no thinking of further concerts.

It went so far that he no longer wanted any vists from his friends and even people who were close to him. He isolated himself. We know that this hurt many people.

Only my occasional appearances he had tolerated. Here I may add that John suffered very much from this situation, but that he just did not want anyone to see him in this condition. He often indicated this to me, and wanted us to accept it.

The most important part of his life, making music, became impossible for him due to the continuously emerging new handicaps. But still, even though he never touched an instrument for months, there was always a guitar near-by.

In late May of 2008, John suddenly asked me if I wouldn't like to play with him again. I immediately brought another guitar and we started playing carefully. It was hard for him, but it got better, even though some of the grips weren't all perfect. It was wonderful to see him full of life again.

But in July, his health and strength deteriorated seriously. In the end, all the technical devices we had installed in the house weren't of any help anymore. His health got so bad that he had to be taken to the hospital again on July 22nd. He made it through this life-threatening condition and recovered to that extent, that normal conversations with him were possible again. But his physical condition no longer allowed a life at home, which was why we moved him to a nursing home on October 8th.

During his stay in the hospital, he still wanted to play guitar as soon as he would be out again.

I played with him in the nursing home, as far as that was possible. There were still quiet chords to be heard. He really wanted. But playing and singing weren't possible anymore.

Then, three days before his death, he pushed the guitar which I offered him, aside. I think that this was the symbolic end of his struggle.

John, we take our leave of you and thank you for the time we had, and for all the memories we have of you.

Your motto:

MUSIC REALLY DOES MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE

Lives on!

Rest in Peace, brother John,
Let him go, God bless him, wherever he may be.