Early in the morning of September 14, 2018, Key West lost Wayne Hammond, one of its most enduring and iconic musicians. Wayne Hammond was one half of the very popular music and comedy duo, Pete & Wayne, who were a fixture at Sloppy Joe’s Bar for over 22 years. He also filled our ears and souls with music as a member of a number of other Key West bands including Wayne’s Addiction, Stray Dogs, The Jeff Clark Five Minus Two as well as countless other bands with which he would occasionally play. Over the years he faced the stages of Sloppy Joe’s Bar, Hog’s Breath Saloon, Green Parrot, Smokin’ Tuna, Virgilio’s and Key West Theater, just to name a few.
Wayne’s music career began in Cleveland, Ohio, where he played in that area’s most popular reggae band. He then performed with a band from New York City that came to Key West to play a two week stand at Hog’s Breath, starting on his birthday in 1994. He loved it here so much he never left, making Key West his home for the rest of his life!
Wayne Hammond was arguably the Keys’ best bass player, displaying what other local musicians considered virtuosic talent. He had the ability to master many genres, including funk, reggae, blues, R&B and rock. He also had great “pipes” as a singer displaying a huge range and the ability to cover many styles. But, it was his stage presence, personality and comedic ability that set him apart from so many performers.
Wayne literally entertained hundreds of thousands of people in Key West and throughout the country performing with the Pete & Wayne Show. For more than two decades, tourists and locals alike laughed the nights away at Pete & Wayne’s hilarious show, which featured comedic stories and songs they wrote about Key West life and their experiences during their annual summer tours throughout the country. Think of song titles like “Gater Heads and Wind Chimes,” “Homosexual Chinese Monkey Hunter,” “Lookin’ to Breed in Boca,” and you get the idea. Many of their song titles are not fit to print here, but would bring a smile to your face!
There are only a few entertainers one can watch perform over and over again, still enjoying it each time with the same enthusiasm, never tiring of their art. Wayne was one of those people.
But, aside from his stage persona, he touched his many friends with his generosity, empathy and good will. He was quick to help others. A friend once told him he wanted to play the banjo. The next day, Wayne showed up with a banjo as a gift. That’s the kind of guy he was.
Wayne loved to stay up late cooking with his wife Tina at their house on Grinnell Street. Friends were accustomed to receiving hilarious texts from him in the middle of the night. And, he was always proud of his Ohio roots and eager to wear the colors of his favorite Cleveland sport teams, sharing in their occasional thrill of victory and too often agony of defeat.
Those who knew Wayne, know he was one of the most wonderfully unusual human beings they ever met. It’s quite difficult to describe Wayne Hammond because you can't compare him to anyone else. He was authentic, creative and unique in almost every aspect of his being. He was quite literally one of a kind. The world, and particularly Key West, is emptier without Wayne Hammond.
Wayne’s wife Tina has created the “Wayne Hammond Scholarship Fund” to benefit Bahama Village Music Program and enable BVMP to continue Wayne’s legacy through free music lessons and provide scholarships for two high school students to attend the Berklee School of Music’s summer performance program.