Randy Lees (as told by lifelong friend Erik deBoer)
"I've got to live again." from music written and performed by Randy Lees and Elizabeth Corrigan
Randy Lees and Erik deBoer grew up in New Orleans and were best friends forever. At age eleven, they heard the Beatles’ first performance on TV, and they began learning music together. They played guitar and Lees loved to sing.
Vic Latham had a club in New Orleans called Pierre's. He put an advertisement in the paper for a blues guitarist. Eighteen year-old Randy Lees auditioned and got the job. He brought in Erik deBoer. They played until the club closed. Latham moved to Key West (later opened the Full Moon Saloon). Randy Lees became the lead vocalist in a nine-piece band in New Orleans called Randy and the Rhythm Aces.
In October 1971, deBoer contacted Vic Latham in Key West. Latham set him up with some work playing in Key West. The cost of living was low, and they thrived. Lees was playing with the Rhythm Aces, dividing up the revenue, barely surviving. Eric deBoer suggested Lees come to Key West.
After Lees arrived, they hooked up with guitarist Andy Johnson. The band was built around Lees and Johnson. They played at Howie's on Duval, the Lantern Inn, and Crazy Ophelia's, (currently Antonia's).
In 1978, Erik deBoer became a general contractor, and finally, with Richard Manley, opened the lumber yard, Manley deBoer.
At Christmas, deBoer usually received a card containing a cassette with a song that Lees had recorded for him. In 1996, Randy Lees died at forty-five. After Lees’ death, deBoer went through a box of tapes of his music. With the help of Lees’ son Christian, he produced a CD of Randy's music—the perfect tribute to his best friend.
Eric deBoer recalls a gig with Randy Lees and Andy Johnson performing. The bar was empty. No one showed up. They decided to record Joni Mitchell's song River on a cassette recorder in the quiet empty bar room. It was beautiful, and deBoer, with Mitchell's permission, put it on the tribute CD.