One of the most unique personalities the Dallas music scene has ever known, he’ll be remembered for his unabashed support for the bands he so enthusiastically loved.
DALLAS — Every urban music scene has its mascots, its defining characters.
They’re the spirits that embody all of the weird, all of the good, all of what’s left — and when it comes to Dallas, John Ferguson was easily counted among that esteemed bunch.
Maybe it’s cliché. Maybe you don’t know.
But John, who passed away at his Garland home on Monday at the age of 80, really was larger than life.
He was, is and forever will be an integral part of the Dallas music scene.
I first met John almost immediately upon launching my concert promotions company Banjos to Beats in 2010. Prior to that, though, I had seen him out at concerts — and, same as everyone else, I couldn’t help but to wonder about his story.
Who was this old man with the Colonel Sanders aesthetic? Why did he keep showing up at shows featuring some of the most cutting-edge artists at the dawn of the Internet era?
I was intrigued, but genuinely devoid of any real theories.
Then, it happened: John showed up at one of my young company’s shows. Looking back now, it’s clear that it was a sign we were doing something right.
From that day forward, everywhere I looked in the music scene, John was there.
He was there when the scene transitioned from Lower Greenville to Elm Street.
He was there when we promoted concerts in Dallas.
Hell, he was there when we promoted festivals in Arkansas.
When the Dallas music scene was barren and lost, the man they called J-Ferg was there.
Before there were any discussions of Factories or Halls or Studios or Lounges in Dallas, ol’ Colonel Nocturnal was there.
When all Deep Ellum had to offer were some empty parking lots and a couple of newly resurrected venues along Elm Street, the Dubstep Grandpa was there.
It went on like this for years. For over a decade, John was the first to buy the ticket, the first to show up at the door and the first to tell you when it was time for him to go home.
John had an uncanny knack for knowing exactly when and where he first saw a band. He kept meticulous records of his musical adventures and made sure to express his gratitude, every time, to everyone — the artists, the promoters, the venues and the young people who found themselves drawn to him at shows and grew to love him like I did.
As the years marched onward, I learned more about John. I learned about the rich musical background that he had passed along to his family. I met his wife, Roseann, and his grandson, Max. I heard about his adventures in the Grand Canyon and snippets of his life before he dedicated his retirement to family, friends, travel and live music.
Every person that met John felt an immediate attachment to him, and left their encounters with smiles on their faces and new stories to tell.
John was one of the things that really set the Dallas music scene apart from the rest of the scenes across the country. To know of him was a privilege, too know him was a once in a lifetime experience.
He showed us how to live life to the absolute fullest. He exemplified the realization of dreams that most of us could only hope to mirror in our short time on this planet.
He was, truly, a moment in time.
If you’ve been around the Dallas music scene for any time at all, then you’ve likely, for a long time, dreaded the news of his passing eventually coming.
Now that it has, although it feels like a piece of the scene has been lost — because it has been — it’s also clear that the legacy and legend of John Ferguson will live forever. It’s a legacy that lives immortally inside the walls of the venues that he frequented, inside the family that he leaves behind and within the stories that will live forever.
Even in death, John’s family has made sure his message won’t be forgotten. In the obituary the family shared to announce his passing, the family is clear in what they ask of those who loved John.
They sum it all up in four words: “Please support live music.”