ROCKINGHAM — Richmond County’s music scene is reeling the loss of another musician following the death of Ponder guitarist Tommy Adeimy.
Adeimy, 56, died at his Hamlet home Wednesday morning.
Bandmate Aldo Simmons, current bass player for Ponder, said he couldn’t remember when Adeimy first picked up a guitar, but said he “began as a lefty, then switched over.”
“Tommy was always lead axe,” he said.
“I started (playing) with Tommy, Shot (Allen), and Tim Hicks in 1984,” Simmons recalled about joining Nitro, a band the others had already been performing as, while still in high school. “We played a few opening gigs for Nantucket, PKM (a Natucket spin-off), and The Seaboard Band early on. Then, by ‘86, we were in St. Thomas and Puerto Rico. We came home after that and Tommy and I put together another band and by ‘87 were in St. Thomas and again to Puerto Rico.
“By ‘88 Tommy and I, along with several others, played at the Nashville Opry down in Myrtle Beach. It was country, but we had our side rock band,” he continued. “By ‘89 we had stopped the road and running. We spent the remaining years up to ‘98, I think it was, writing and recording originals with several different lineups. Always seemed he and I were always there. Around ‘98, I had to bow out.”
Adeimy is the second member of Ponder to pass away in less than a year. Former bassist and vocalist Joe Harris died in August of 2016.
The two previously played together in a five-piece band for a few years as Stark Raven, before disbanding and reforming with the lineup that would become Ponder Blue, Adeimy told the Daily Journal last year.
The band recorded a CD in 2003.
“We were a cover band, but also working on original music,” he said.
The following year, the band dropped “Blue” from the name and featured Harris on bass, Adeimy on guitar, Allen on drums and Pearce running sound, while also providing backing vocals and percussion.
Following Harris’ death, Adeimy and Allen carried on as Ponder with Simmons on bass on Kevin Butler on vocals. Adeimy’s wife, Billie, also performed vocals on several songs.
“I feel blessed that we stood side by side one more time on stage,” Simmons said.
Several local guitarists and other musicians recalled being influenced by Adeimy and marveling at his skill on his chosen instrument.
“I just remember as a kid of thinking, “Who are these local guys playing such cool rock tunes and who is the killer lead player?’” recalled Philip Neal, guitarist and vocalist for Hardwired. “Seeing Tommy and the boys playing such cool music as Scorpions, UFO, Kiss, Ozzy, etc. — and playing it right — made me want to play.
“One time I went by where they were practicing, Tommy played the solo for “Flying High Again” by Ozzy note-for-note — that’s when I really realized this guy is the real deal,” he continued. “They also so played some really cool gigs, such as the old Crackers and other big clubs. Well, after many years, I got a chance to catch up with Tommy and his band Ponder. He was as good as he ever was and still playing the best music out there. Also he was still as down to earth as ever. This is a big loss for local music and the community, but it’s the biggest lost for his friends and family, which he has many.”
John Baker and Colby Hildreth, guitarist and drummer for The Way She Goes, both remarked on Adeimy’s skill and influence.
“Tommy is the reason Richmond County has musicians,” said Hildreth. “He was my local inspiration for all the band’s I’ve ever been in.”
“When you watched Tommy perform, what you were really watching was a true master of his instrument and you could always tell that he really enjoyed it,” Baker added. “If you are a guitar player, Tommy was the one you were wanting to play like.”
“Tommy was a big inspiration to myself and countless others in the area’s music scene,” said Donald “Ducky” Medlock, who plays with Bucky and Rocky Covington, and has been working on solo material. “He was a one of a kind. Great singer and guitarist, but above all, a great person.”
Even those not a part of the local music scene recalled Adeimy’s talent and personality.
“Tommy was a standout in a long, proud line of stellar musicians Richmond County has produced. He shared his musical comrades’ chops, as well as their desire to use their talents to make Richmond County a better place,” said Shawn Lewis, former Richmond County Daily Journal editor. Lewis organized several area benefits that raised more than $100,000 for local causes.
“Whether it was a Fourth of July event to support the families of our deployed troops, a state championship barbecue to help the local women’s shelter, or an all-day block party for Hurricane Katrina victims, Tommy and his band, Ponder, were always ready to rock out for a good cause,” Lewis continued. “And the boys never disappointed the crowds — young, old, or in between. Having bands like Ponder, Eastern Seaboard, Black Powder, etc. locally based ensured that whatever the event was, people would come. And they’d rock — so much so the festival goers would be talking about the entertainment lineup well after the lights went out.
Lewis added that Ponder and Eastern Seaboard were the last two bands to play at Myrtle Beach’s legendary Magic Attic.
“Think of all the acts that could’ve been asked to close out that facility, and two groups from Richmond County got the call,” he said. “That speaks volumes about local talent.”
Robin Roberts, manager of Hudson Brothers Deli — where Ponder always drew a crowd — said “it breaks my heart to see” one of the members of her musical family pass away.
“Over the past 20-plus years, he made sure to come out and support all our bands and fundraising activities,” she said. “He was looking forward to the 2nd annual Rockin’ for Veterans this upcoming September…I loved him and his family very much. He will be missed for sure.”
Roberts said a memorial concert is being planned, but details are still being worked out.
Reach William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 and follow him on Twitter @William_r_toler.