Yesterday was Father’s Day and I got a lot of love from my kids for being such a “great Dad” (their words). I’m glad they feel that way but I had to tell them that the greatest Dad was my Father, their Grandfather. My Dad, Allen Rushton, is one of the biggest reasons why I play music and perform in a live band today.
In his day, my Dad played lead tenor saxophone in various bands when he was in his late teens and early twenties. He was a member of the Nevada Musicians Union and would get called by the union and told where and when he would be playing on the weekend. He made some money doing this and wanted to be a professional musician. He then entered World War II and when the war ended, he went to college and got a degree in Education. He ended up being a Teacher, then a Principal and finally the Assistant Superintendent of the White Pine County School District.
When I was in fourth grade, my Dad talked me into playing the trumpet in the elementary school band. I took to it immediately and he bought me my own Cornet to play. Later, when I showed an interest in the piano he asked me if I would like to take lessons which he then paid for and bought all the materials for me to study. When I wanted to play French Horn, he rented me a French Horn. My Dad always supported me to the fullest in my musical aspirations.
The pivotal moment that set me down my career path as a professional musician came when I asked for an acoustic guitar for Christmas when I was 13. I had my choice between a .22 rifle and a guitar and I chose the guitar. That instrument changed my life though I must credit the piano for a good chunk of my musical growth. When I got in my first band, I had to borrow an electric guitar but my Dad saw that I needed my own electric guitar, and even though money was tight he bought me a Fender Bullet which is as close as I could get to a Stratocaster at that time.
My Dad gave me the freedom I needed at 14 years old to run around with a bunch of older guys learning and playing Rock-N-Roll. He let me practice and play gigs with my first band and never gave me any hassle about it. Later when I told him I would need a better amplifier than the one I was borrowing, he bought me an amp as well. I still have all the instruments that my Father bought me and some of them are almost 30 years old now. I keep them as a memorial to my Father.
My Dad has been gone for 6 years now and I miss him like crazy. He was a great Dad and I owe so much to him for helping me and supporting me in my love for music. I’m glad that he got to see me perform many times over the course of my career. I hope that my own kids will appreciate my support for their own interests and I’m lucky that they all seem to love music as much as I do. Today, I’m writing this post as a tribute to my Father, Allen Rushton, and I know he’s still watching out for me from up above. -Matt-