Lead Guitar Player Will Indian Passes Away

January 9, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  33 Comments

will-indianCountry music has lost one of the most tasteful lead guitar players to ever fill a break. Will Indian, lead guitarist for country legend James Hand, as well as the guitarist for The Nortons, The Cornell Hurd Band, and many others, has passed after contracting a fatal infection last month. Will suffered from Hepatitis C. He died Wednesday night (1-8-14) according to his family.

Will Indian was the defining element of the James Hand sound, and so many other bands and artists that were fortunate to have him lend his guitar playing to them over the years. He was not a flashy or fast guitar player, but his taste was impeccable and unparalleled, and his use and appreciation for space, tone, and subtly in his playing is what won him wide appreciation amongst his peers. Indian toured the country and world with James Hand and others, and was a staple of legendary Austin venues like The Broken Spoke, the Saxon Pub, and Austin’s hottest new venue, The White Horse. In recent years, his illness kept him from playing on the road, but he remained a fixture of Austin clubs.

Friends, fans, and fellow musicians threw a benefit for Will in July 21st of 2013 at the Saxon Pub, to help with the cost of his Hepatitis C treatments; a disease he had battled for over 37 years. James Hand, The Rhythm Rats, The Nortons, and many other acts played the benefit. In an interview with the Austin Chronicle before the benefit, Indian led on to the severity of his condition, but had hope he would recover.

I’ve tried the cures, but none have worked for me. I now have cirrhosis that was complicated by a recent pulmonary embolism in my right lung. I have had to cut back on gigs but have Wednesday Happy Hours at the White Horse with the Nortons. I am on a liver transplant list at the Methodist Hospital in Houston. I am on a maintenance program with medications that keep me stable.

It feels great and humbling to have the support from the friends I have made and people who are fans that tell me how much my music has meant to them. I am starting to archive my musical history of television, recordings, and photographs for an upcoming webpage.

Will Indian also was a guitar teacher, and worked with the schools in Dripping Springs just outside of Austin where he lived. His most recent work can be heard on the recent James Hand record Mighty Lonesome Man and Cornell Hurd’s Drop In On My Dream.

“I subscribe to the idea that music is a gift to share.” — Will Indian

33 Comments to “Lead Guitar Player Will Indian Passes Away”

  • I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Will (in whatever small capacity) on James Hand’s “Mighty Lonesome Man.” If you talk to anyone else that I worked with on that record, they will tell you I preached the whole time that Will Indian’s guitar was the key to the James Hand sound, and was the perfect match for James’s timeless compositions. He was a great guy with a wise ear and a big heart. He will truly be missed.

  • So glad you did an article on this. I met Will a couple of times both here (UK) and in Austin. What an incredible player and a lovely guy. RIP.

  • Yesterday, my friend of thirty six years said goodbye forever. He was doing great just a few short months ago and now he is gone. Goddamn hep C, the motherfucker. What the hell is wrong with modern medicine that lets you suffer for a month on a ventilator when a pill should do the trick? Fuckers.

  • Damn, terrible news. He will be missed.

    Here’s an old video in his memory:

  • I met Will at a school in Drippin’ and found him to be a true gentleman. His passing is very sad. Rest in Peace.

  • RIP.

    “He was not a flashy or fast guitar player, but his taste was impeccable and unparalleled, and his use and appreciation for space, tone, and subtly in his playing is what won him wide appreciation amongst his peers.”

    THIS is what country music electric guitar playing should be all about.

    • You don’t need a million notes to say something beautiful. Ever.

    • Actually Will could play plenty fast when it was called for. He just used every tool in his toolbox with, as you say, impeccable taste. He was also hilariously funny, kind, gentle and insanely cool. A great, great man and great musician. Condolences to his wife and family.

  • What a rare gift it was to watch this man teach my son to play guitar. He took a 10 year old boy that could hardly sit still in a classroom and held his absolute focused attention for an hour. He was an incredible teacher and taught my son to play whatever he asked of him. That meant, of course, that the very first songs my son learned on the guitar were Beatles songs. He was fascinated with the Beatles and 60s/70s music so that is what he wanted to learn. Not the easiest place to start, but Mr. Indian knew how to reach that young musician. He and Garrett had such similar tastes in music that I think he enjoyed teaching him as much as my son enjoyed learning from him. My son is 20 now and has never lost interest in playing and improving. I’ll be forever grateful to Mr. Indian for teaching, guiding and encouraging my son to develop his skills. What an amazing man, musician, and teacher. He will be missed.

  • I met Will with James Hand over here in the UK a few years back. Wonderful guitarist and a damn nice guy! Sad news!

  • A new drug with a much higher cure rate, with significantly fewer weeks of treatment has just been approved by the FDA. It is used in combination with the other two currently available, and very nasty drugs. And the kicker…….

    “Most patients will be treated with the $7,000-a-week drug for 12 weeks, resulting in a total price of $84,000, according to Gilead spokeswoman Cara Miller.”

    Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/new-drug-treat-hepatitis-approved-fda-article-1.1542441#ixzz2q0PBG3Qi

    That’s in addition to the other two drugs. I’m waiting (and hoping) for the VA to get on board.

  • So sad. The way he played was just so percise and elegant. It was like a good writer who uses few words to say a whole lot. His licks were always in the right space in the song. God bless his friends and family. Hep C sucks I hope medical science can make some progress on it it takes quite a toll on the creative community.

  • Thank you for this kind tribute to my stepfather and friend, Will. On behalf of my mom, Lynn Sue Indian, we are grateful for the support of Will’s friends and fans.

    Please note that Will’s death was actually unrelated to Hepatitis C. While he did have this disease, Will was diagnosed with a fatal infection in the last month, while waiting on a liver transplant. Despite the valiant efforts of his medical team, the infection took over and caused his death.

    Will was compliant, determined and courageous throughout this ordeal. We already miss him terribly, and are so proud of the fight he put forth. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

    • Very sorry about you and your family’s loss Ami. I have updated the information above.

    • Ami, I knew your stepdad in when he was in HS and I was in Middle school. Actually his sister Cindy was in my class. Then he was Billy and one of my favorite memories of the family was that there was always a lot of fun to go along with all the strawberry blond hair. The guys were just a bit on the wild side. I never would have guessed Billy was on his way to a career in country music. I am so glad he found what he loved.

  • The Rhythm Rats were one of the first bands I ever heard play in Austin. On E. 6th St. at the Mid-City Roadhouse. I remember walking up to meet the band and tell them how wonderful their music was and we were friends from that day forward. That was 1983.

    Will recorded many cassettes for me. I’m listening to them exclusively this week. One song in particular I placed on a continuous loop named “Will’s Neighborhood”. It’s a 15-minute long solo. So we’ll always be neigbors no matter where he is.

    I’ll miss you brother.

  • R.I.P. The guitarist for one of my favorite country singers. Another great man gone…
    As D.A.C. used to sing: ‘too many heroes are dead’.

  • Will was not only a great guitar player, he was a great guy! Always had a friendly word. I knew Will since the Rhythm Rats were guests on The Lone Star All Star Texas Music Review back in 1988 and was a fan of his before then. The World has lost a very special talent and a helluva good man!

  • Sorry to hear the news Will has gone on to glory.
    Will had the reputation of a patient teacher to many students and aspiring guitarists in Dripping Springs. I loved hearing him play and sing rock and roll as well as country music. He certainly did share his gift of music and talents in a genuine way.
    My condolences to young Will, Lucinda, Will’s family and friends.

  • I’m sad and I’m angry. I feel as if I have been cheated out of my best friend who has been robbed of his life. All that praying nonsense is for naught, I can’t do it anymore. If I had thought for one minute it would make a difference I would have devoted the last month to it but I know it is bullshit and so did Will. His pain is over but mine will last until my final breath.
    I love you Will. You are my closest non DNA related brother. Thirty six years and counting.

  • Mandy,

    You were right on….when needed, Will could blaze up the fret board….he was a true musicologist…..I used to try to stump him with songs…..he knew them all

  • Lynn Sue lost her soul mate and the world lost a great musician. My deepest condolences to Will’s family, friends and fans.

  • William David Indian Sr.
    William David Indian Sr., 60 left this world on Wednesday, January 8, 2014, after a long battle against liver disease. Known as “Bill” by his family and “Will” in the music world, he was born in Schenectady, New York, on Sept. 16, 1953, to Tom and Ann Indian. In 1976, he followed his family to Lake Jackson, playing in the popular house band 10 Cent Coke at Pat’s Place.
    In 1982, Will moved to Austin, where over the next 30 years he launched a uniquely successful music career. Will was a lead guitarist for numerous bands, band manager, local DJ, music teacher, and song writer. He played with greats such as Bo Diddly, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Pine Top Perkins. His proudest career moment was when BB King told him, “You play good blues for a white boy.”
    When he wasn’t playing music, Will was a teacher’s assistant at Dripping Springs Elementary School, where he taught, mentored and loved children in the special education program for nearly 20 years.
    Will was preceded in death by his brother, Martin Tyrrell Indian.
    He is survived by the love of his life and wife, Lynn Sue Indian; two children, Lucinda and Will Jr.; three step-children and two grandchildren, Ami Brezina and husband, Luke, Mitchell Felker and sons, Micheal and Archer, and Wesley Felker; his parents, Tom and Ann Indian; siblings, Tom Indian III and wife, Linda, John Indian and wife, Sandy, Cindy Ponzi and husband, John, and Eric Indian; along with numerous nieces and nephews.
    A memorial service will be held at New Beginnings Church 400 North Dixie Drive, Lake Jackson, Texas, on January 14th, 2014, at 11:00 a.m.
    In Lieu of Flowers. there has been a William Indian Benefit fund sent up at First National Bank 122 West Way, Lake Jackson, Texas, 77566.

  • My wife and I loved to listen and dance to the music of any band Will played with. For us he was the one who made the band come together. We had no idea he was such an exceptionally wonderful man until we read about him. To mentor young children in a Special Education Program and hold there attention in a fashion that allowed them to learn such a wonderful skill is astounding. We will miss this wonderful man from the Adirondacks. Our prayers go out to his loved ones.
    Take care!
    Walter “C”

  • Bill shared a lot of music with me and friends back in high school. He was a good friend in “the Junction.” I am so sad to hear of his passing.

  • Charles Farmer, I heard that name a hundred times from Will . Another one was Kenneth Welch and I actually met Mr Dickey back in forever ago. Is it sinful for a man to love a man if there is no sex involved? I hope so and I’m proud.

  • I didn’t know Will Indian, but the person I grew up with was Bill Indian in Rotterdam Junction, New York. From 3rd to 7th grade we were inseparable, hanging out at one of our homes or the home of our other good friend, Dan Testo, just about every day. Bill (Will) was the best friend a kid could ever have. He loved the Chicago Cubs when they were the worst team in baseball. I would make fun of him but he never wavered in his support for them. He was the first kid I knew who was a member of the Columbia Record club. For those that don’t know you were obligated to buy a (vinyl) record album every month. As a result Bill had all the Beach Boys, Beatles and Jan & Dean releases before anybody else. Since the radio only played the hit singles, listening to the entire album at the Indian house was a treat. Later on in middle school we would listen to some “bad” stuff — the Rolling Stones and John Mayall. When we were in 3rd grade the Beatles came to the US. You could buy a Beatles wig for $1.98 and we were allowed to play Beatles songs and wear the wigs at school recess. He was quite a sight wearing a black wig over his red hair!. The last time I spent with him was when we were 21 working a summer job together. I asked what he was going to do with his life. He responded immediately, “be a hippie and play guitar in a band.” He obviously lived his dream and turned out to be a tremendous success. I will never forget him. Be at rest, Old Friend.

  • I remember meeting Will, Loose Reed, & Rusty Trapps as the Rhythm Rats in the early 80′s. They were
    one of the tightest trios I’ve ever heard. Will and Loose backed me up on a one hit wonder The Reindeer Song and Christmas Time In Austin in 1986, which Larry Monroe played on KUT that Christmas Day. This past Christmas the songs were on You Tube for the first time. I love you Will, I will always remember the laughter we shared.

  • Thanks for the article. Will started out teaching my son guitar. I peeked over their shoulder a bit. Then he said he could teach us both. After a while my son dropped out and he taught/played with me for a while. We developed a friendship and went through some rough times together. I remember his hound dog Sarge singing along with us. Haaarrrrrrrrrrrooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!. I cherish our time together.

  • Every time I come here the tears flow. I need to stay the hell away but my memories haunt me. I know Will is dead but I keep expecting the phone to ring.

  • Will Indian. A frank and straight forward man. In a world of `fluid’ personalities, myself
    included, Will was always Will whenever we spoke. I recently watched one of the
    Rhythm Rats TV shows we made in 1985 and Will’s talent as a showman and
    ringmaster all came back. His stamp is all over it; costume changes, gags, props,
    special guests…everything. I know he is going to miss some of us as much we him.
    The last time I saw him at a record show he introduced me to Lynn Sue. I recognized
    the look of another man who found the love he’d been singing about his whole life.
    If you want to see Will and the Rats drive a stake deep in the heart of Texas music
    history just type in `daniel johnston rhythm rats speeding motorcycle you tube’.
    And somebody tell George Wise about this please. He needs to see it.

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