Tom Vogl: I'll always have the memories of laughter

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A week after Greg Scott's sudden and overwhelming departure, mutual friends repeatedly have mentioned two things that hit them after the truly great memorial celebration: "Who will play for upcoming family events?" (Greg was our one and only choice); and Greg's laugh, which was so special and distinct.

A close friend had brought us to Steamboat in the winter of 1990 on a long weekend. We headed up the gondola to Hazie's, met the sleigh on the backside of the lifts, and were catching our breath from all this Yampa Valley beauty when we pulled up to Ragnar's for dinner. The scenery at dusk was pretty heady stuff for us first-time Midwest flatlanders.

Bob Neville mentioned that a friend, Greg Scott, would be entertaining that night, and he wanted all of us to meet him between sets. We did so, and after the second set, Greg came by the table, smiled and asked, "Anyone have a request?"

When nobody offered, I joked, "How about 'El Paso' by Marty Robbins?"

My request was truly tongue-in-cheek. Nobody in the Midwest covered this amazing ballad - 7 1/2 minutes long with no repeating verses and subtle tempo changes that make, but mostly break, the song.

Apparently I picked the wrong cowboy and the wrong song for this particular joke.

Greg softly mentioned that it also was one of his favorite songs from his favorite artist.

Seven and a half minutes later, Falina was kissing the fallen cowboy goodbye, and I realized tears were running down my face. He didn't just cover it - Greg lived this ballad. As the song ended, Greg nodded at me and caught me fumbling for a napkin to compose myself. I nodded back as nonchalantly as possible, but his song had caused me to come temporarily unhitched, and Greg knew it.

After the set, he strolled over to the table with his big, wide grin, and in a returning-the-joke tone said, "So, Tom, did you like it?"

Outdone, I uttered something sarcastic and juvenile like, "Well, it was all right."

Greg Scott took a quick breath and bellowed his laugh.

We've all heard that laugh - so free and genuine and loud.

I'll miss that laugh, and I'll remember it well.

Tom Vogl

St. Louis, Mo.

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