Tongo was about 14 years old when he came into my van to get out of the rain that used to fall quite often in that part of Oregon. He sported a blonde natural (now referred to as an 'afro') that was curly blonde locks falling all over his cherubic face, and wetly clinging and entangling in his beat up guitar.

Having been on his own since the wizened age of 12, Tongo was quite a confident young lad. Two years of following the Grateful Dead had provided him with a goal- to become a great guitarist. After partaking of a rather common but totally mis-understood herb he demonstrated his 1 year skill on the guitar - as my small reputation in those parts, and in those days, had guided him to find me.

He wasn't looking for a teacher, or a 'mentor' which in another age would have been quite comfortably appropriate, he was just looking for my opinion. He wanted me to show him that his talent was worth pursuing, so I did. We became instant friends and brothers, comrades at arms in the mystery of the muse.

True I showed him a bit of my own licks and repertoire, and he soaked it up like a sponge, but before that man had reached 30 he was showing me how to REALLY play the guitar.

Around about the ripe old age of 16, he met the mother of his children, and by the time he was 21 had two sons. He was a carpenter of demand, highly sought after for his work at one point in his life, because it would seem that whatever he decided to do he decided to do it well.

He grew the best American Cannabis Sativa I have ever seen or heard of..

Along that same philosophy, Tongo embraced the faith of Rastafarianism and translated his amazing musical skill and talent into whole new levels and variants of Reggae music. His curly locks turned to dreadlocks, and he was for a while, like a lion prince among them whose prowess on the guitar literally knew no equitable comparison. The man was just good!

The last time I saw Tongo, he had just turned 30, was in his prime and lookin' good. We fell out of touch, as I drifted away from the cultural common ground, and though his former wife kept me somewhat informed, I never saw him again.

After 21 years of deliberate indifference on my part, I returned to the Rainbow Gathering, and was greeted with the knowledge of Tongo's death at the young young age of 44. Though I don't know all the details, my heart and my intuition, as well as my past knowledge of the boy, and the man tells me that like the words in the song "Vincent" like so many other gentle artistic souls who find little succor here;

"This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you."

I hope to obtain some of his work to showcase here, because losing a man with Tongo's talent is a great loss to this world. Some small bit is a treasure indeed.