Harmonica player James ‘Pappy’ Garrett ‘went out gigging’

Blues musician James “Pappy” Garrett always told his bandmates in Cadillac Flambe that he wanted to die on stage.

“I guess the next best thing is that he went out gigging,” drummer Mike Payne said.

The band plays shows throughout the metro area. Garrett, who played harmonica, didn’t have a car and usually rode with the other musicians.

After playing a show Saturday night at Home Plate Grill and Sportsbar in Pleasant Hill, he got a ride with two bandmates. The car was traveling on Interstate 435 near 23rd Street early Sunday morning when another car hydroplaned and hit it. Garrett, 54, was killed. No one else was seriously injured.

When he died, the band was in the process of recording a 22-track album. Garrett only made it through six.

The band plans to release a special disc of those six songs at a tribute show July 29 at Davey’s Uptown Ramblers Club. Band member Kris Bruders said the club was one of Garrett’s favorite places to play.

Garrett played in the band about seven years.

“We played hard, and we played every day for years,” Bruders said.

Performing had been a longtime dream for Garrett, and he devoted himself to the group.

The band plans to continue playing together. Garrett was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and emphysema about a year and half ago, so the band had discussed continuing once he was unable to play, Payne said.

Garrett had five children and five grandchildren. Services are at noon Friday at Meyers Funeral Chapel, Blue Springs.