Odds are pretty good you’ve never heard of Ted Bird; his musical career wasn’t a high profile part of the star-making machinery. Those who did know him, including friends in places like Rhode Island and Charleston, South Carolina, are remembering him today after his passing from cancer at age 58. He arrived in the Holy City the same year I departed for Columbia so I never got personally acquainted with the man, but the high regard with which he was held by every other local musician I did know was enough for me to know he was a special kind of guy. The Post & Courier ran this obit today, an unorthodox remembrance of an unique individual.
BIRD, James James E. (Ted) Bird lived how he wanted and never looked back. A local musician and tour guide, he lost a short but hard-fought battle with cancer Monday, September 1, 2008. He was 58. Born in a Pennsylvania coal-mining town, he jumped in a car he won in a poker game at age 22 and traveled the country with his wife, Jane, playing songs and meeting colorful characters at each stop. Ted worked the music circuits in New York, Nashville, New Orleans, New England and the Midwest, opening for the likes of Waylon Jennings and Bette Midler. He cut countless singles and two full-length albums, Made in America (1991) and Laughter and Love (2005). He settled in Rhode Island for 19 years, working for General Dynamics and then The Providence Journal, before abandoning corporate work forever. He came to Charleston on a weekend gig in 1993 and knew where he wanted to spend the rest of his life. He brought his 12-string blues, rock and originals to audiences across the area. An avid student of local history, he also ran a small downtown walking tour business, James’ Leisurely Tours. Ted lived his final months at his home on Folly Beach with Jane, his companion of 42 years; his 24-year-old daughter, Allyson; and “the son he never had,” a Great Dane named Blitz. He restored and drove old BMW motorcycles as a hobby and swam in the ocean every chance he had. After his diagnosis, Ted said his only regret was not having more time to spend the same way. Friends are invited to celebrate his life at 2PM on Saturday, September 6, 2008 at McAlister-Smith West Ashley Chapel, 2501 Bees Ferry Road, Charleston, SC 29414; 843-722-8371. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Stand Up To Cancer, File 1224, 1801 W. Olympic Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91199 (www.standuptocancer.org) or The Salvation Army, 2135 Ashley River Road, Charleston, SC 29407 (www.salvationarmyusa.org). Condolences may be sent to the Bird family via http://www.mcalister-smith.com. Visit our guestbook at http://www.charleston.net/deaths.