RIP Bruce Kidder – Dave Pilot’s Tribute to “Big Daddy”

I can’t imagine what my life looks like today without the influences and friends Bruce Kidder brought into it years ago when he was building something very special morning by morning at KHYI. Without the music he introduced me to, I’da never met – much less gotten to write for – Rockzilla hisownself. Woulda never met Miss Lana, or Dana, or Jonni. James Mills, you and me’d be strangers if not for Bruce. Likely wouldn’t be writing for Outlaw Magazine today. Never would’ve met Kevin Higgins and Barbara Malteze. Wouldn’t know Jud Block, who’s become the brother I never had.

Without Kidder, and what he did for all of us, I really hate to imagine where I’d be. The doors he opened for me have made all the difference. And it was Bruce, back in 2002, who told me on the radio in the middle of morning traffic on the way to Dallas that Waylon Jennings had died. Coming from him, it felt like hard news from a real friend. Not just some throwaway DJ talking point trash like those of us in the metroplex heard on other stations for the next couple of days. And you know what? When Hoss went, Bruce didn’t have to dig up a couple of big hits to dust off and play in pseudo-tribute. He’d never stopped playing Waylon for us.

Big Daddy Bruce Kidder was a lot of things to a lot of people. To me, his work at KHYI and later on his own internet radio show after the worst decision in FM radio’s history played out contributed materially to the quality of my life. He taught me things I would never have learned otherwise.

Bruce and I were not friends. We met in person maybe twice. But he changed my life in fundamental ways. I hate hearing that he’s died. I hate that the world has lost his passion, his intelligence, his wit, his zest, his willingness to lay it on the line and do what’s right as best he knew how. And I absolutely hate that I’ll never get to hear him on the radio again.

But I’ll go to my grave thankful that Kidder did what he did at KHYI, and that one tiny offshoot of the substantial things he built happened to take root in my life and result in friendships I cherish, music that’s saved me, and opportunities to write about and support artists who create things that matter. Bruce tried to show us that music made from one artist can matter. His passing proves the point.

RIP, Big Daddy. I swear on my mama’s grave, if God had a phone line, I’d be calf-roping your exit right now. And I’ve already told the man upstairs that while I’m thankful we had you for awhile, if He’s bound to take you now, then may we please have another?

~ Dave Pilot

Dave Pilot lives in north Texas with his first good wife (don’t ask about the other one), seven horses, and five dogs.  When his wife’s not looking, he tries to figure out ways to feed the 987 or so cats to the coyotes out behind the fenceline.  When he’s not trying to raise his kids to turn out better than he did, he’s hitting historical sites on his way to honky-tonks from Denton to Port Aransas. Visit Dave Pilot on Facebook.

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