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Augie Meyers on Kissing Death Goodbye and the Eternal Hustle

Photo: Josh Huskin, License: N/A

Josh Huskin

Photo: Courtesy photo, License: N/A

Courtesy photo

Meyers and Flaco Jiménez (original members) with Shawn Sahm (Doug’s son, center), the core of today’s Texas Tornados

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Touring was something hard to predict in 2009, when he started feeling ill while gigging with Little Joe y La Familia in New Mexico, the same state that took our Doug Sahm, Meyers’ Quintet and Tornados buddy, 10 years prior when Sahm died of a heart attack in Taos in 1999. Meyers’ wife Sarah had been urging her husband to see the doctor, but he kept telling her, “I’ll go when I’m back in San Antonio.” When he couldn’t even walk, it was time to go to the hospital for what Meyers thought was a problem with his lungs.

“No, it’s your kidneys,” the doctor told him. “Either you go on dialysis today or we’re going to kiss you goodbye.” Shortly thereafter, the doctor took Sarah aside.

“Look, if [he’s] alive in the morning, we’re going to take care of [him].”

“He didn’t tell me, he told my wife,” repeats Meyers. “If your potassium level is four, you’re sick. If you’re six, you have a heart problem. Eight, you’re dead. Mine was 8.25. It was that bad.”

Meyers was on dialysis for 13 months, nine hours a day, connected to his stomach. But he didn’t stop—he took it on the plane, to Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, anywhere he went. He would write or read, always with Sarah by his side, whether it was at the hospital or home in SA. Twenty-eight potential donors had been tested and discarded. It was April 2010, and in May he would have been taken off the transplant list. But at that particular moment, unbeknownst to him, Jimmy Lucas was driving on a Dallas freeway listening to a radio interview with drummer Clay Meyers, Augie’s son.

When asked about his dad, Clay said, “He needs a kidney.” Lucas felt something.

“I don’t know, I just felt compelled to do it,” Lucas told the Current on the phone from Dallas. “I thought it was the right thing to do, I felt pretty strong emotion.” He laughs nervously when he says, “It must have been a God thing…”

Everyone else thought he might be crazy, including the doctors. So much so that Lucas almost bailed at the last minute.

“[The doctors] took me to a three-hour psychiatric evaluation,” Lucas said. “I told them, ‘I’m just trying to do something nice, and you’re making me feel like I’m crazy.’”

Meyers explained, “He figured if he did something good, it would come back to him, and two weeks [after the transplant], he got the job he always wanted.”

The transplant took place on April 22, 2010. “Am I still here? Am I still here?” Meyers asked Clay upon waking up, according to the Express-News. Meyers and Lucas met in San Antonio three months after the transplant.

“He told me I was his guardian angel,” said Lucas, now a regular at Meyers’ shows in Dallas. Lucas has since married (his new wife coincidentally lost a kidney to disease), and in October, he received Meyers’ new album as a birthday present.

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