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A rock and roll love affair

Dale Shrull
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

If good music and good friends have healing power, then Jeanette Hill got a much-needed jolt last Sunday.

Even with an amazing musical lineup, most didn’t come for the tunes. Most stopped by Beau Jo’s at Buffalo Valley to show support for Jeanette.

They brought cards, donations, flowers and smiles. Sunday was filled with bright sunshine and positive vibes.



Everyone wanted a piece of Dave and Jeanette Hill. Everyone wanted to say “hi” and “good luck.” Prayers were passed along, and the line to give Dave and Jeanette hugs never seemed to end.

Name tags may have come in handy for many, but the faces were familiar to a time more than 25 years ago. Many in this crowd came with gray hair, no hair or a lot less hair, wider waists and bigger behinds, and the bloodshot eyes of the 2 a.m. crowd back in the day, now were surrounded by wrinkles; some wore glasses and all were filled with more maturity.



Years have passed, times have changed. But on Sunday, it was time to reflect and reminiscence about those good times.

But it was difficult times that brought them together.

Hundreds came. “This is just amazing. This is going to lift me up and make me better. I’m just overwhelmed by all of this,” Jeanette says.

Jeanette has seen better times, but this was a spectacular day. Breast cancer has tormented the Hills for more than a decade. This gathering was a fundraiser to help with medical costs in Jeanette’s third battle with the ruthless disease.

Dave and Jeanette are a rock and roll love affair. Plain and simple.

“January 28, 1984,” Dave blasts out like one of his patented guitar riffs. Jeanette laughs, he never gave her a chance to answer. He wants to make it very clear that he will never forget the date they met.

It was at a little Glenwood watering hole called Uncle Dale’s. Today, it’s called The 19th Street Diner, but back in the ’80s, it was a hopping scene with music and mechanical bulls – a wild place to party.

Like most love affairs hatched in dimly-lit bars as closing time approaches, Dave and Jeanette’s attraction was powerful.

“She was beautiful and sexy, I just had to have her,” Dave says with a grin.

“It was his smile and he had this kind, sexy aura about him,” Jeanette says.

They reminisced outside Beau Jo’s holding each other tightly.

What was different about this late-night love affair is obvious. They are still together 26 years and two months later.

“I had one date with her and I just knew I had to go back and see that girl again,” Dave says.

Dave, 56, remembers another date vividly. This memory yanks his smile away.

As Jeanette steps away to visit with a friend, Dave’s voice cracks as he talks about Jeanette’s cancer.

“September 10, 1999,” he says. That’s when Jeanette was first diagnosed with breast cancer. It returned in 2006, and then they got a third dose of bad news back in January.

“I thought it was behind us,” Jeanette says. “We couldn’t really wrap our brains around it the third time.”

But Sunday was about the present. “It’s amazing, just amazing,” Dave says about the turnout. “This is such a tight music community here that will step up and do things like this.”

Both Dave and Jeanette remember little details of their life over the years.

Like Halloween 1999, shortly after getting the first cancer diagnosis.

“Dave had to play on Halloween and he didn’t really want to, and he came with a tear drop under his eye as his Halloween costume,” Jeanette says.

The memory returns a smile to Dave and he gives her a hug.

“There’s a few things that have tried to come between us, but we just don’t let it happen,” Jeanette says, and they both laugh.

Dave smiles, “There’s nothing as cool or real as being with her.”

He arrived here in 1978 as a Boulder musician and Jeanette, 60, was a Nebraska farmgirl looking for something different when she came to Colorado in 1972.

The Hills admit that this latest diagnosis has made it tough to remain positive, but they do their best. The intense chemotherapy treatments are tough on both of them.

Drained and weak, Jeanette is buoyed by all the support on Sunday.

When the fundraiser was organized, no one said no. The musical lineup was a venerable who’s who from the local music scene.

Dave says so many musicians stepped up that they could have had a three-day event.

But that’s what the music community does in the Roaring Fork Valley.

“What brought us here in the first place are the people, and that’s what keeps us here,” Dave says.

As one of the most recognizable and accomplished musicians in the Valley, Dave has always dreamed of making the big time.

“I came close a couple of times, but almost everyone I know has come close,” he says.

Through the 1980s and ’90s, with a recording studio in their home, the Hills still had the big time in their dreams.

But life has changed that tune. Cancer has a way of shifting priorities. Life was forever changed for them on Sept.10, 1999. Then again in 2006, and once again in January.

Up to Sept. 1999, Jeanette never missed a gig when Dave was on stage.

“She’s always been my No. 1 fan,” Dave says. “She believes in me more than I believe in myself. She’s my best friend and always has been.”

And of course, Jeanette has been the inspiration for most, or maybe all of the songs Dave has written.

“Every song I’ve ever written is either about her or influenced by her,” he says.

This is a special love affair.

“We love to be with each other 24 hours a day 7 days a week,” Dave says. “It’s very rare and we cherish that because it’s so rare.”

Sunday was all about good music, good friends and good times. Unfortunately, the times for Dave and Jeanette are difficult. Cancer has a way of messing with life’s priorities.

But for one day, the future was not as important as the present. On Sunday it was about great music, great friends and a great time.

Another day in a rock and roll love affair where great music and great friends make life in the Roaring Fork Valley so very special.


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