Country 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