Saddle Pals and I
In memory of G. Fred Swanson,
December 3, 1952 to December 19, 2009
Guy Frederick Swanson was born December 3, 1952, in Hollywood, Florida. His family lived in
Metarie, LA, and Memphis, TN before settling in St. Louis, MO. That's where he finished his
He moved to Denver, CO in 1972. There he played electric guitar in a band called Smokehouse
with his brother Doug and longtime pal Gary Hoyt. It was also around this time that he met EP
Davis and Clarke Wright.
In 1977, along with Clarke and EP, he helped form The Hollywood Rodeo Band, which later became
High, Wide and Handsome. He played guitar and bass and was the lead singer.
From 1977 to 2009, HRB/HWH toured extensively in the western US and worldwide with DOD/USO tours. In that time, they produced two CDs, five cassette albums, two 45 rpm singles and one vinyl LP album. They performed for two US Presidents.
On 19 August 1992, Fred, (along with Clarke & EP) were awarded the United States Department of Defense Civilian Service Medal for their performances during Desert Shield/Storm.
Fred was employed for many years with the GAP and Old Navy stores along the front range and created many friendships with his coworkers.
He was an accomplished songwriter, musician, poet, historian and gardener and he loved to watch old western movies. A true St. Louis Cardinals fan!
Fred is survived by his mother, Carlene, brother Doug, sister Martha, niece Susan and nephews Derek and Stephen, dog Billie (who was adopted by a special friend), and Bosco.
He was a good friend, and this world will be a little less bright without him. We shall miss him.
Per family request, no services are scheduled.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to your local animal shelter.
To write in the Memorial Guest Book (see bottom of page), send an email to Clarke.
In memory of Eric Paul (EP) Davis
May 1953-October 2019
The Hawaiian pronunciation of the place where EP was born is "Ee-oh-vah".
But in plain old English it is just Iowa. Yup, that's right, EP was born in Emmitsburg,
Iowa, in 1953, to Ruth and Rev. Paul J. Davis, an Episcopal priest. The Davis family
moved to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in 1970. There he met me, Clarke Wright.
That story from my view goes a little like this:
"My mother came to me one day and told me that there was a new Episcopal priest in town and that he had a son my age. Being that my father was also an Episcopal priest, I was going to meet this kid and I was darn sure going to be nice to him. At age 16, you must do what your mother tells you (mostly), so I dragged along my friend Bob and we went to meet this new kid. Well, we go ring the doorbell and here answers this short kid with long hair and a scowl on his face. Turns out his mother had told him pretty much the same thing my mother had." Well, we struck up a friendship that day that lasted a lifetime.
During our time in Sioux Falls, we did the things that teenagers do, including listening to music and going to concerts. We were particularly struck by the so-called Country-Rock bands that often featured the banjo and steel guitar. One day EP, or Eric, as he was known then, decided that he needed a banjo. So, he and I took his French Horn down to Sioux Falls Music and traded it in on a 5-string. I pulled my acoustic guitar out of the closet and we sat down and tried to play The Ballad of Jed Clampett. It didn't sound half bad to us and soon we were boldly playing for our friends. Of course, none of our hippie pals of 1970 had heard anything like this rip-roaring homemade music coming from right next to them. So, we became kinda popular with our friends, especially Eric! Eric's middle name was Paul, and one young lady started calling him E.P., for Eric Paul. That name stuck the rest of his life.
EP and I moved to Denver in 1972 and were intrigued by the bluegrass scene. We met guys like David Ferretta, Charles Sawtelle, John McEuen, and others. In 1976, after a brief detour in the Black Hills of South Dakota, EP and David started a band called Sunday River. I joined shortly after on mandolin.
EP worked at Ferretta Music at 82 S. Broadway in Denver, while we did gigs with "David Ferretta and the Sunday River Bluegrass Show". We even cut an LP record on the Biscuit City Label called, "You Can Dress 'Em Up, But You Can't take 'Em Out".
In 1977, along with our pals Ernie Martinez and Hagan Day, EP and I started a country band called Silverball. Much like he taught himself the banjo, EP now taught himself how to play the steel guitar. Once again, we found ourselves kinda popular, especially EP! And, we found out that we could make a modest living playing music!
In 1979, after Ernie had left the band to teach his own self steel guitar and was replaced by G. Fred Swanson, Silverball took our first overseas tour to Hawaii and Guam. There on Guam EP met Frances Aguon. Frances made the trip back to Colorado with us and they were soon married and had a son, Christopher. But that marriage did not last, and Frances and Chris moved back to Guam.
During the late ‘70s to early ‘80s EP also operated a recording studio out of the Global Village, a popular Denver coffee house. There he had clients such as Hugh Moffett, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and an early version of the Bluegrass Patriots.
In 1981, after a brief hiatus, Silverball re-branded and became "The Hollywood Rodeo Band", this time as five piece adding Rich Moore on bass. Rich left HRB later that year and was replaced by Matthew "Blue" Clayton. HRB recorded one LP record and four cassette albums (the preferred format of the time).
In 1988, through various HRB shows, EP met his ultimate best pal and soulmate, Amy Boudreau. EP and Amy were married in 1992 and remained a couple for the rest of his life.
The ‘90s brought HRB renewed popularity. Now back to four-piece, HRB was recruited by the Department of Defense for their DOD/USO program. HRB did 18 overseas tours, with EP as 'Unit Manager’.
In the late ‘90s, The Hollywood Rodeo Band rebranded again and became "High, Wide and Handsome", this time as three-piece, and ultimately released three CDs.
EP always had a recording studio in his home. In 2004, he recorded the Bluegrass Patriots' CD "Springtime in the Rockies", which was picked up by Copper Creek Records. This is an excellent CD and, in my opinion, one of EP's finest recording achievements.
In the early 2000s EP and Amy started to often travel to Hawaii to escape Colorado winters. It was around this time that EP gained a fondness for Hawaiian Jazz Ukulele music. Not surprisingly, he taught himself to play jazz ukulele and recorded four solo CDs.
In the 2000s, EP and Amy started splitting their time between Hawaii and Colorado. EP remained active in the studio, even up to the last week of his life.
There is always unfinished business in life and we always think we have more time than we really do. EP was able to finish some unfinished business before he passed. Back in the early 2000s, High, Wide and Handsome started a CD, but due to unexpected life events, it sat for 15 years. EP and I were able to finally finish "Last Roundup" earlier this year. Also, in 2017 EP released a 'Best of...’ CD from the old Hollywood Rodeo Band cassettes. Both CDs represent some of EP’s finest work, both as a recording engineer and a performer.
We miss ya, pal….
Fred’s Memorial Guest Book
Good-bye, old friend. It's been one hell of a ride! You will be sorely missed. -Clarke
Your music and memories live on inside each of us that you touched. Farewell saddle pal. -ep
Thank you for the memories and years of entertainment. We will always remember Fred "The Flash" Swanson. You're a part of the Angel Band now. Enjoy pickin some tunes with Charles. "There is no music in hell, for all good music belongs to Heaven." (Brigham Young). Sleep in Heavenly Peace. -Sheila W.
I'll never forget the best advice you gave me: "Find a man you're attracted to, find a man who makes you happy, find a man who challenges you.. And never let them meet." Goodbye Freddo. -Ryan Nicole Wellems
Fred will aways be part of my life and in my heart. He was a very kind, caring person. He always asked how is my family doing everytime I worked with him..I really enjoyed working with him. It will always be very hard to go into the fitting room, I mean Fred's WORLD!! We will miss him LOTS!!! -Tricia Cowley
Fredo touched my life in so many ways, him and i would just sit in the fitting room at old navy and he would always tell me these amazing stories. Fred wanted nothing more from me then to suceed in life, i remember he would bring me in presents everynow and then, one day he brought me a dreamcatcher and told me i could do any thing. Everytime i went back to Old Navy he was always the first person i would look for, he always knew how to brighten mine and tons of other peoples day. Fred, you will truley be miss thank you putting such an impact on my life. -shelby swanson
We will miss you so much, Fred. I didn't know you for as many years as I should have liked, but in that short year and a half, you touched my life and the lives of everyone who knew you. You taught me to take everything in stride and never sweat the small stuff, and I will do my best to remember that. -Rachel Bennet
We miss you all very much. We will never forget you.
Your friends, Herbert, Dorle, Stefan & Sylvia from Berchtesgaden - Germany
I still remember the day when you and the boys came to the customs office at Munich Airport in Germany in 1993. You missed some equipment cases for your show in General Walker Hotel in Berchtesgaden. At that hotel I was invited from you all to see your show and have fun with you. That day our friendship started though we couldn't see us very much. The second time we met, was when you picked me up at Denver airport for my visit at Ft. Collins 1993. Unfortunately, this visit was the last time I saw you. Well, to be honest, I had not the money and time to come over for a visit. However, you can be forsure that I had you - and will always - have you in mind.
I cannot say very much about you in normal life, but I remember you as a friendly and generous man who picked up a (almost) stranger at an airport, brought him to a friend's house for dinner and took care not to get lost on his way to a hotel.
Now I feel so sorry that we do not have the chance to meet us again over there in Colorado.
But there is the small chance that I can meet you one day in heaven, and then I promise, we will play music together.
Fred, You will never be forgotten!
Your dear pal from overseas, Harry Roth, Neunkirchen am Brand, Bavaria / Germany
To say it with the words of Mary Frye:
"Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die."
I have a good many memories of Fred, but as they say, I can't recall all of them. But hearing him sing "Stone Walls and Steel Bars" for the first time was something I'll never forget. And then to hear him turn around and do "Oh Carol"--great stuff. And that "telum-caster" (as he would say) was the real deal. His musical mind was wide open to all kinds of things; blues, rock and roll-you name it. Rest in peace Fred. -Rich Moore, Denver.
Fred thank you for always being there. Whether I was upset about work and coworkers or just wanting to share stories about our dogs, I always left the fittingroom in higher spirits. I have and will always miss sitting in the office listening to you clock in and waiting for you to walk in so we could start one of our many time consuming conversations. Fred you will always be one of the reasons I loved going to work each day. Rest in peace, and I will always remember whose world it is! -Christine Peters
You were an amazing person. I could be having the worst day but when I stepped into the doors at Old Navy and was immediately greeted by your "Hello, Miss Leanne how are you today?", my day would become instantly better. Words cannot describe the joy I would get from talking to you whether it was about your amazing life stories, your walks with Bill, or even just what we each had for lunch, you were a true friend and one of the most amazing people I will ever met. I will always remember your kind heart and never ending generosity, from bringing me food in Tubberware containers when I had no money to go grocery shopping to always being there to help me in any way you can, you were constantly giving anything you could and never asked for anything in return. You are missed greatly and will never be forgotten. You will always have a place in my heart. -Leanne Insana
He was such a great singer and an authentically handsome Western character! -Jo Ann Hedleston
I'm saddened to hear the news that we've lost another friend and fine musical voice...Fred and his fellow members of the Hollywood Rodeo Band truly brightened the airwaves on KBRQ Radio in Denver during the 1980s. I was proud to know him briefly and to call him a friend. My sympathy to his family, friends, and fans. -Jim Stricklan
I met Fred and the band back in the mid seveties in Mystic, South Dakota. Fred was great, the band was great, they gave me a better sense of country western music.....cheers -Paul Mcquilkin
My condolences to the family & friends of Fred, a great guy. Clark & E.P., I know what it's like to lose a musical comrade with whom you spent decades with. Hang in there & keep it going. Fred, I'll miss singing Vestido de Blanco with you. See you down the road my friend. -Glenn Zankey
I am very sad to hear about Freds passing. I met him when he was with Smokehouse thru my brother-in-law Gary Hoyt. He and several bands he was in played here in Atwood,Ks many times over the years. I considered him a good friend. I will miss you Fred::::: Gary Worthy
. . ."Another guitar player called home"
- I remember him as a guitar player, I know he played other instruments.
I loved your smile, Fred.
I'll always remember the last time I saw you. You were so polite and nice to me after you'd seen Gary at the hospital. I am grateful that I got to know you.
My condolences go to the family he made for himself. . .his friends.
Respectfully, Esther (Hoyt) Ammon
I remember when Fred first moved to Denver in 1972. He was staying at my house until he found a job and could save enough money to get his own place. He was working nights at a grocery store, and one morning he came in from work and caught me jaybird nekkid as I was rushing around getting ready for work. I shrieked and ran for cover. I laughed 'til I had tears in my eyes for many days, every time I thought of it (and laugh, still, at the memory). That evening, we were together with Doug and maybe my brother Gary, too. I said ha ha I guess Fred told you what happened this morning, and they looked back and forth at us with blank, then questioning expressions. Fred said, "Of course I didn't tell 'em. A gentleman keeps those things to himself." That was so Fred--a true and kind gentle man. -Janet
Fred, it has been almost 20 years since I met you and the other Band members in Diego Garcia and over the years you have kept in touch. You will be missed but not forgotten. -Ralph Doudna, Flagstaff, Arizona
To the Swansons and all of Fred's family, our sympathy goes out to you.
Fred was our friend, as he was to many people. We were fortunate to have had him share his kindness, his gentle manner, and his many talents with us all. Happy Trails Friend -Chuck & Marilyn Westerdahl
Thanks for all the great memories...I used to love going to sleep listening to the band practice in our basement. Hanging out listening to records, BBQ's, and going to see the Denver Zephers play baseball. You had a big influence on me growing up. You were always a great friend. You will be missed greatly but never forgotten. With Love -Willie Hoyt