I'm deeply saddened by the loss of Vic Juris. We were close friends and musical comrades starting from when I was a teenager in the mid-1970s and we played on many gigs and appeared on several recordings together during those days. When Vic and I got together, the topic always focused on the music. He had a key to the music store he was teaching at and often after hours he and I would play there all night, duet style. You can hear the bond we formed on the recordings that exist now, especially on "Cherokee" from his "Horizon Drive" album where the band lays out mid-way and it's just the two of us. We had a mutual respect and thirst for musicianship, creativity, knowledge, improvement, and success, and they were always the focus of our sessions and conversations. I remember rooming with Vic in hotels and the first thing in the morning, before getting out of bed, he'd reach for his guitar and start shedding, continuing with that mindset all day and night. In addition to musically, it was enjoyable being around him personally. His sense of humor, calm demeanor, confidence, supportive nature, kindness, awareness and down-to-earth friendliness made an impression and inspired me to continue with my musical journey that I had begun several years before I met him. When I decided in 1979 to move from my hometown in New Jersey to Manhattan to expand my musical horizons from the fusion music I had mostly been playing and developing, Vic and I branched out into our own individual paths, yet we kept in touch and periodically played together.

Vic and I go way back to our musical beginnings:
By the time I met him when I was 17 years old, I had already been the drummer in my brother's "Barry Miles & Silverlight" group for a few years. Guitarists who played on the recordings and live performances during that time included Pat Martino, John Abercrombie, Jack Wilkins and Al Di Meola. Barry discovered Al and wrote sections of his compositions to showcase Al's strong points, while coaching and inspiring him. It ultimately led to Chick Corea hearing Al on a recording of one of our performances, serving as his audition for Return To Forever and acing him the gig http://www.terrysilverlight.com/DiMeola.html. Needing to fill the guitar chair in Barry's band upon Al's departure, Vic joined in 1974 with me on drums, continuing over the next five years. I had already gained attention as the drummer on Barry's "White Heat" album in 1971 at age 14 with Abercrombie, Martino and Lew Tabackin, but Vic's entree into the band provided him with the first audience exposure to his extraordinary talent, with Barry showcasing him the way he had Di Meola. It took Vic only a few months before he joined Richie Cole's, Eddie Jefferson's and other bands simultaneously, finding his own voice.

In 1975 (shortly after I met Vic), I entered Princeton University as a freshman. My commitment to absorb as much of the high level academic opportunities offered there made it difficult for me to also continue that same level of commitment to the music I had been dedicated to prior. Mid-year, Barry booked a week at The Village Vanguard in NYC with his band and asked that I take off from schoolwork to play drums on it. Vic was the guitarist. It was that engagement that prompted me to make a decision whether to stay in school or pursue music as a lifelong career. The jolt I got from that gig was a wake up call and I took a leave of absence from Princeton. Vic's inspiring presence on that gig had a lot to do with my making the life choice I did.

When planning to write this memorial, it dawned on me that Vic and I shared several "first" and "just about the first" musical experiences together, starting with my sharing Vic's first glimpse of exposure to a larger audience by joining Barry's band which I was already in the midst of. Barry's and my friendship with saxophonist Eric Kloss lead to Eric choosing Vic as the guitarist on his "Bodies Warmth" album in 1975 on the Muse label, along with me, Barry and bassist Harvie S. That album marks Vic's debut recorded performance and I'm glad to have shared his "first" with him. Vic's appearance on this album, along with the reputation he was garnering as a gifted artist, prompted Muse record label owner, Joe Fields, to sign Vic to the roster. Vic released his first three solo albums there and I'm honored to be the drummer on all three. I'm also thrilled Vic recorded my composition "Vic's Theme" on the first of those three albums, "Road Song".

Another "first" Vic and I shared together was when Barry invited both of us to go to England to record his next solo artist album. To take advantage of our presence there, the producer invited Vic and me to play on the other albums he was recording, including those for Mel Torme, Michel Legrand and Kenny Wheeler featuring Phil Woods with members of the London Symphony Orchestra. Up to this point, Vic and I were accustomed to playing mostly high energy, fast-paced, complex, innovative fusion music. Although I had already played tracks on a couple of pop/crossover recordings, including "Native New Yorker" and "Spanish Fever" for Fania All-Stars, this session in England was the first where I was presented with one chart after the next, given only one or two takes to record with no punching, surrounded by a huge orchestra and rhythm section, along with the artists performing live. Stylistically pop-oriented, this music was a departure from the type Vic and I had been used to playing together. It was a tremendous experience that we both shared as a first.

Yet another "first" Vic and I shared was with our own groups. During my stay with Barry, I began performing live with my own band playing all my original material. Vic was the guitarist. It was then that Vic started getting his own gigs as leader and I was the drummer.

Every time I play music in the style that Vic and I immersed ourselves in together, I feel his presence in my heart and soul. He's part of my DNA and we'll always be musical brothers. May he rest in peace and the incredible legacy, reputation, positive spirit, joy and wealth of music he gave the world live on forever.

- Terry Silverlight

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