In a world full of jaded, egocentric guitar heroes, local musician Gary “Speedy” West Jr. was a generous soul whose genuine love for people was as impactful as his sharp, soulful skills on the pedal steel guitar.
Multi-instrumentalist Brent Saulsbury played with West in The Clique, the house band for Friends Restaurant & Club. He said while the band will carry on in West’s memory, there is no replacement.
“There might be other guitarists as good, but what made Speedy stand out was that he had an amazing ability to make people feel special,” Saulsbury said. “He didn’t mind stepping out of the spotlight to let me shine for a while, and he’d do that for anyone.”
After moving to Oklahoma City in 2004, guitarist Todd Lynch shared stage time with West, who was instrumental in helping him cobble together a career. Lynch even got to see one of West’s last shows, just two weeks before his passing.
“It’d been a while since I’d seen him play the pedal steel guitar, so I’d forgotten just how good he was,” Lynch said. “He was pretty sick at that point, so he wasn’t carrying the show or anything, mostly letting the other guys take the solos, but when he did solo, he would lean into it like it was the last time he’d ever play.” —Charles Martin