Before we start from the very beginning, I find it appropriate to share an anecdote which accurately represents the type of man Doc Jones really is.
I was a sophomore at the University of Arizona and had just gotten my heart broken for the first time. I was failing multiple classes, and I was ready to call it quits and put all my energy into music. So, of course, I call Doc to let him know. When he answers, I’m crying, “Doc, I’m coming home! I just can’t do it anymore. I’m done with school! I’m not cut out for this! I’m gonna come back to phoenix and start my music career.” Doc replied softly, “Text me your address and don’t move, I’ll be there in a couple hours.”
Two hours later, sure enough, there he is, in front of my apartment. He drove all the way down to Tucson from Phoenix to talk me out of dropping out. And he brought his friend, a pastor from his church, who happened to also be a bass player with whom I had performed with many years ago, Mr. Robert Campbell. He drove us to Boston Market, fed me dinner, and talked some sense into me. His friend, Mr. Campbell, prayed for me. They reminded me of the gift that I had there in Tucson. The gift that I was so ready to throw away.
It was at that moment when I was finally able to fully comprehend the real impact that Doc had in my life up to that point. See, I’ve known Doc since I was 6 years old. He became my saxophone teacher in the second grade. And when him and my mother recognized my special talent, they made sure to never let me put down my horn. I remember there was a time when my mother could no longer afford music lessons from Doc. But Doc continued to teach me, only asking my mother to try to repay him when she could. In turn, she would find ways to repay him. Like home cooked meals, or stand by passes for flights to Chicago. We always made it work. And I’m grateful. Doc always saw something special in me, even when I didn’t want to believe in myself. Although I was not very good at reading notes or playing my scales, Doc quickly recognized my unique ability to improvise. Many nights we would run well over our scheduled rehearsal time, just jamming out. By the time I was ten years old, Doc already had me performing live. It was Christmas time in the desert, and there we were, playing on stage together “Mister Magic” by Grover Washington Jr. We finished the song, and I threw my cap into the audience. Everyone cheered. I was a real entertainer. I will never forget that feeling. I stood strong in my power. The stage was my second home, and I was barely ten years old.
I continued to work under Doc and the Next Student Academy until I got into Brophy College Prep. and joined their pep band. We continued to stay in touch. Although he was no longer technically my sax teacher, he has always remained my life coach and mentor. When my mother died, Doc was there. When my daughter was born, Doc was there, coaching me on how to be the father he knew I could be. When I decided to get sober, Doc was there, sober with me. Doc has always seemed to be a constant positive force in my life for as long as I can remember. And today, as I begin my new job, as a Music Therapist for children with developmental disabilities, I can’t help but remember everything I’ve learned from my friend Doc.