Thoughts and Memories of Cap'n Pete
Cap'n Pete at WEVL Gallery
Hear The Best of Cap'n Pete from the WEVL archives Fridays at 9 PM CDT
Read what others have said about Cap'n Pete:
I was fortunate to have met Cap'n Pete at the WEVL at the last fund raiser back several months ago because I volunteered to do phone work one Friday evening. Thank you Judy Dorsey! In between phone pledges, Judy gave me a history lesson of this marvelous individual. Lonnie (Rock House) added his input into who this man was and the legend he will always be.
07/25/2008 04:13 PM - John E. Fox, Board Member, WEVL
Captain Pete will be sorely missed by listeners everywhere. Friday nights won't be the same without him. When I lived in, or visit Memphis; WEVL was/and is my favorite station.
07/25/2008 01:35 PM - Kenna Adams Pitts
I first heard Cap’n Pete when I moved to Memphis in 1986. His laid back demeanor, personal connection to the music, and deep collection of stories made the Cap’n Pete’s Blues Cruise a standard part of any Friday night we were within range of WEVL. When I was hired as Program Director of WEVL in 1988, getting to meet and know Cap’n Pete was a major priority, and I wasn’t disappointed. Off the air, Dee Henderson was the same gracious, friendly, down to earth man that WEVL listeners knew from his show. Dee made you feel like you’d been friends far longer than the calendar would allow, and as much as his love for the blues was immediately apparent to anyone who heard his show, his love for people was immediately apparent to those of us lucky enough to know him in person.
Dee never let success go to his head. Despite receiving near universal acclaim in the blues community – there were international tape trading circles distributing his show long before internet broadcasts were a possibility – he always treated his show as a rare privilege, and seemed a little surprised and embarrassed when he received an award or other praise for his work. He approached his show the way he’d approach playing his favorite records and trading stories with old friends – like it was nothing special, just good music and good times.
Cap’n Pete was an incurable romantic. My then-future wife (Vicki Davis, host of Up on Memphis 1988-1993) was born in Mississippi and would share stories with Pete about growing up in Mississippi and then moving to Memphis. When he found out Vicki and I were dating, Pete broke out in that wide grin of his, leaned back, clapped his hands and laughed. He seemed thrilled that two of his friends had found each other, and encouraged the romance by sending out Charles Brown songs to Vicki and me on the Blues Cruise. Whenever he saw one of us, he’d ask about the other, and would always remind us how lucky we were to have found each other.
We left Memphis in 1993, but never lost touch with Cap’n Pete. Whenever we’d meet, we'd talk a little about the latest blues news and catch up. For the past 10 years or more, we’d made tentative plans for him to visit the farm and spend a few days talking about the blues, watching the cotton, and maybe going fishing.
He never made that trip, and I regret not doing more to make it happen. But I’m grateful for a 20 year friendship, and the opportunity to spend many a Friday night listening to Cap’n Pete play his favorite records and share stories with his friends. Godspeed, old friend.
07/25/2008 10:37 AM - Bear Bean, Program Director 1988-1991, Blue Plate Special 1988-1993
On Friday nights in the late 1980's, I would usually be found hanging out on Summer Avenue with a bunch of "automotive enthusiasts" (i.e., hot rodders). As we loitered in various parking lots talking about cars, I would sit in my old Camaro, drink an IBC Root Beer, and listen to Cap'n Pete. I always felt that his show was the perfect soundtrack for that scene.
Cap'n Pete led me to learn more about both the Blues and WEVL, and as a result, I became a WEVL member, substitute programmer, regular programmer, and finally board member of WEVL. Cap'n Pete's dedication, knowledge, and genuineness led me to view him with a certain reverence, and I am sure many WEVL programmers and other volunteers felt the same way. I was honored to use the same air room and air waves as someone who truly lived the music he played.
The entire WEVL family mourns the loss of one of its patriarchs. May your last cruise bring your soul the same joy that your life brought to others.
07/25/2008 09:04 AM - Tim Taylor - Swing Shift Shuffle - President, WEVL Board of Directors
Dear Cap'n Pete,
Thank you for giving this yankee woman an authentic education in the blues. I'm not just talking about the music. You painted a picture of the Mississippi people and places that formed the music. Through stories and songs you helped me acclimate to my new southern home.
I feel privileged to have known you. I won't forget you.
07/25/2008 07:50 AM - Susan Maakestad, Host of "House Bayou" since 1998
Cap'n Pete is a familiar voice in my ears. Never got to meet him, but its Cap'n Pete and his show that I have to thank for helping me get through my homesick days away from home. Fondly remembering sitting and listening with my feet propped up, doing nothing but listening to his warm voice. Lots of cassette tapes of his show that I recorded. Thank you for sharing Cap'n Pete!
07/24/2008 06:07 AM - Nia Zalamea
I am blessed to have known Dee, and honored that he considered me a friend.
When I decided that I had to go to Memphis to learn and study about the blues, I was on fire with excitement with every new discovery.... and one of those first discoveries was WEVL, and soon after, Cap'n Pete's Blues Cruise.
I interviewed Dee for a class project I had back in 1988, and I think truly, we were fast friends ever since then. And while I filled my head with words from scholarly books that (so-called) blues experts had written, and paid careful attention to my professor's lectures, on the other end of the spectrum, providing a unique kind of balance to what I was learning in class, was Dee Henderson.
Having grown up in the blues, Dee had a first-hand knowledge of the idiom that people such as myself (who came to the blues later in life, as an outsider) can literally only dream about. I loved hearing his stories, I loved his soft, warm laugh, and I always got a kick out of seeing that grin on his face when he fired up that vintage dark blue Chevy truck of his, with a satisfying roar or two from the engine.
I was also honored, on a couple of occasions, to interview two giants of the blues with Dee--Bo Diddley and Willie Dixon. In an interview setting, Dee was a natural, and I remember how much richness was added to the proceedings by him being there-- way more than if I'd only gone by myself.
Going to see Bo Diddley, Dee and I walked into the Peabody Hotel, got onto an elevator, and were riding up to Bo's suite--the Presidential Suite--for the interview. I saw Dee start to chuckle to himself, so I asked him, Dee, why are you are laughing. Dee explained to me that when he was a teenager, going down to Beale Street to hear the blues, why, African-Americans were not even allowed to walk on the sidewalk outside of the Peabody, let alone enter the building. Now, we were going to the Peabody to interview Bo Diddley-- in the Presidential Suite. That was the kind of man Dee was--that he chuckled to himself over the irony of it all.
After I completed my studies, I moved away from Memphis, and from time to time, would try and remember to listen to Dee's show over the internet.... but too many busy Friday nights, I'd forget, thinking about only after it was too late.
The last time I saw Dee was a few years ago. I had managed to turn my master's thesis into a book, and decided that as a friend as well as a mentor, I should return the favor, and in part, dedicate the book to him. I was not present when he received the book, but I do think he was genuinely pleased.... it was the very least that I could have done, but in retrospect, so glad I did.
Before I left, Judy Dorsey, WEVL station manager, snapped a photo of the two of us. When it came time to part company, Dee said something that totally surprised me. He said, you remember back when you were first at WEVL, and so fired up about everything new thing you learned, and what a period of discovery it was for you? I said yes, I remembered it well. Well, he said, it was a period of discovery for me too.
I couldn't have been more stunned to find out that Dee had found my enthusiasm contagious.... I had always assumed that Dee had WAY more to teach me than he could have ever possibly learned from me. But then again, that's the kind of man Dee was.
Dee, our lives are a little poorer now, and we will always miss you, but to those whose lives you touched, we will always remember you, and know how much richer our lives were because you touched them.
With all my love,
07/23/2008 04:12 PM - Steve Franz, former WEVL programmer, 1988-1991
For the last twenty-something years, I was very lucky to listen to Captain Pete's show. He taught me 70 percent of what I know about the blues. And I was very lucky to have known some of Memphis' greats at a young age. When I called Captain Pete to request a song or ask a question, once back on the air he would always chuckle and say, that was Mr. Danny down in Byhalia. Somehow we need to continue his Blues Cruise. I've been trying to figure out a way I can do it myself. I know of one brewmaster how moved back to Boulder, Colorado when Coors closed here in Memphis, Dave Thomas webcast every Friday night. I guess I'm still in shock. I understand nobody will top Mr. Dee Henderson, but what will we do on Friday night?
07/23/2008 02:35 PM - Danny Twaddle at the East End Grill Hacks Cross
it was great while it lasted. these truly are the blues. thanks cap'n.
07/23/2008 01:37 PM - gary hood
As a long time WEVL program Host and Substitute programmer, and having hosted the show that preceeded Dee Henderson's show,it was very odd on July 18th to look out into wevl's record library just outside of the air room and not see Dee there gathering records and cd's for that evening's show. I had thought about what i would say to honor my co programmer at home, but always broke down in tears trying to find the right words. I didnt know how I'd do when it came time to honor him on Rock House, but Id knew I had to say something and get thru it as best I could, because time, and the show, MUST go on..................
Luckily, I held it topgether. I told of how I missed my friend, and that I loved him very much, and to please stay tuned to WEVL because his show was up next, albeit without him hosting it. I started my last two songs of the night, and got up for the substitute host, this time Ed Amos, for the unenviable task of sitting in for Dee-which btw he handled marvelously-to carry on with the show...........
De had signed an old WEVL program guide for me. He wrote on it "To Lonnie, My FRIEND, and that word means more to me than folks will ever know. Im Honored that I got to be up close and lersonal with the kindest, gentlest man Ive had the pleasure to know, and want the listeners to knoiw he loved all of yall as much as you did him.
Miss ya Dee, but MAN, what gig you get to MC now-Dee is hosting shows somewhere else that feature Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Robert Johnson, Leadbelly, And ALL of the blues grewat he used to play for three hours on a friday night-now he gets to watch them in person again-NOT a bad gig to have..............................
Love ya Dee.
07/23/2008 07:44 AM - Lonnie VIar-Host Of Rock House