On December 4th, 1988, I was visiting my dad in the hospital. We had admitted him in the night before. I was concerned because the hospital had not hooked him up to a heart monitor even though he came in complaining of chest pain.
During my visit the following day. We talked a lot! I found it odd that he was trying to convince me to go back to school. I left college in 1983 because my band Chace was growing. My actual career as a musician and songwriter was coming true and I felt the school was holding me back. Still, he said to me, “Dave, you should really try and go back to school.” I had the utmost respect for my dad so I just listened, but I had no plans on returning to school!
He then asked me how was my music going. I said it’s doing good! I was working on several songs and producing artists. It was a very exciting time in my life. My first child was born six months earlier and life as a whole was great!
After we talked I said “hey dad, let me run. I want to go back to the studio and work on this new song some more and then check in on Tracy and the baby. He said, ok, I’ll see you later. I said, “cool, I’ll come back up later on or tomorrow.” He said ok and with that, I walked out.
As I left, I heard paper shuffling, I saw nurses running and a bell ringing like mad! In a matter of seconds, it went from peace and tranquility to total chaos! It was coming from a room across the hallway. I moved aside to get out of the nurse's way. They’ll never say David Knight was in their way of saving a life!
I get home and after several hours of working on the song my brother comes into the studio and says, “Hey Dave, the hospital called and said dad got really sick, we need to go up there!” I grabbed my car keys and coat and rushed to the hospital! They would not let me in the room to see him right away. I asked what happened?
They said your father had a major heart attack! I asked if he was still alive and they said yes but he’s in pretty bad shape. They said to take a seat in the lobby and we’ll let you see him first chance we get.
I told them I had heard on the radio a few days ago about a new drug. It’s called "heart buster!" It's supposed to help people who have heart attacks. The only downside is you have to give the drug during the heart attack. I remember that because I said to myself, well what if a person has a heart attack at the beach? I’m sure no one will just happen to have the drug in their ice cooler!
Little did I know when listening to the news report that day, it would be that new drug that saved my dads life.
Nana and I spent the night in the hospital lobby. Finally the next morning, they said ok, you can see him now. I walked into the room. He was sitting up in bed and looked fine! Like nothing at all was wrong. We talked and talked. I could see his body shaking, trembling especially at the center of his chest. He was telling me about this drug they gave him. He said it was so bad that he was seeing little hill billy men biting off each other's heads!
I asked him when did the heart attack hit. He said, “David, you hadn’t walked out of the room.” “You mean when I left to go back to the studio earlier today?” He said, “yes, I could still see your feet walking and your back!” I was in shock! I said, “wait, I heard a lot of papers shuffling, I saw nurses running and heard a bell ringing.” “That was you?” “Yes, that was me.”
I stood there, I had no clue. My "musical" ears had played a trick on me. The bell sounded like it was coming from across the hall. The nurses ran around me so it looked like they were going across the hall. Every time I think of this part of the story it just blows my mind. I was right there when my dad was going through the second worst experience in his life. The first being the death of my brother.
I felt helpless! It’s not like I would have been able to help. Still, had I only turned around! I would have at least known it was my father in serious trouble!
But you know, life has a way of not letting us see certain things. I think at that point in my life. Had I saw him actually having a heart attack. It would have scarred me emotionally for a long time. Yet, deep inside, I wish I had just turned around.
Then I remembered and said to him, “hey dad, Roy Orbison had a heart attack too! “He said, really?” “Yes, but he died.” My dad just looked away and said, I’m sorry to hear that.” After a month in the hospital, he was released New Years week in 1989.
Hear the rest of the story and Roy Orbison's part of the story and much more on the podcast.
Featured Music- O.C. Smith
My father discovered O.C. Smith in the late 1960's early 1970s. It was love at first listen. The world came to know him by his hit song "Little Green Apples." O.C. was a jazz, R&B, soul and big band singer. His rich deep voice filled the microphone with so much heart and soul.
Many of his classic songs include Cycles, Honey, Daddy's Little Man and Hickory Hollers Tramp. Each song tells a story of troubled times, pain and heartache, relationships and desperation. You'd be hard-pressed to listen to any of his music and not have a similar life experience that you can relate to.
I’m not a big Roy Orbison fan. I pretty much only know two of his songs, “Only the Lonely” and “Pretty Woman.” As an artist, I know you don’t have to like a persons music to know it’s good quality. I know good music when I hear it! Roy’s music is among the best.
I liked Roy as a person. He seemed down to earth and genuine. Reading the article in my model aviation magazine helped confirm the type of person I always thought him to be. Just good people, not full of music industry hype and drama.
Remove the guitar, stage, lights and Roy faded into a normal life. That’s a person who is true to their craft and art, not the industry it spawned.