Across The Bridge: Monroe County Musings

By Jeff Clark/Monroe Journal

A Song For Ean Evans
I feel certain if you were to ask 100 people about what type of person Ean Evans was this is what you would hear: kind, genuine, compassionate and humble. When Evans died a few weeks ago after a battle with a vicious type of cancer, a huge void was left in the lives of his friends and family, the Lowndes County/Northeast Mississippi communities and the world of music.
I had known Ean for several years. When I was a young snot-nosed kid in a punk rock band, he was very cool and supportive of us and we idolized him because he had been in The Outlaws. Over the years, we worked on various charity programs together and formed a friendship. Ean was always gracious enough to help me with whatever fundraiser was going on at the time – he never said no to anyone.
Then, he became forever a part of Southern mythology and music history.
There are many, many mythological entities in the American South: Bear Bryant, Elvis Presley, Tupelo, Memphis, Hank Williams, William Faulkner, Flanery O’Connor and Lynryd Skynyrd. Skynyrd, as we refer to them, is one of the most celebrated and emulated bands of the South. From the Drive By Truckers’ “Southern Rock Opera” to the concert chant of “Freebird,” Skynyrd is an iconic and iconoclastic part of Southern and American folklore. And Ean Evans allowed all of us a chance to be a part of the mythology.
When Ean joined Skynyrd as its bass player a few years ago, he did so humbly, as the late Leon Wilkinson was his friend and mentor. He never saw himself as Wilkinson’s replacement – he saw himself as paying tribute to Wilkinson’s legacy by keeping the band going. And although his lifestyle may have changed when he joined the band, one thing remained the same – and that was Ean Evans. He was the same kind person in Skynyrd as he was when I would visit him in New Hope.
He was also the same kind, compassionate person when he battled cancer. Much like the theme of Rabi Harold S. Kushner’s book “When Bad Things Happen To Good People,” we will never know why a great person such as Ean was taken from our lives, but what’s important now is how we remember him. The greatest way we could pay tribute to his life is by continuing to help others.
Ean Evans is an angel now – I have no doubt. But he was already an angel – he was a living angel among men.
I wish I could thank him one more time for always being kind enough to do an interview with me, get me tickets to the Skynyrd concerts and the million other things he did for me. I hope this written tribute is a good start to paying tribute to his life.

Jeff Clark is a staff write for the Monroe Journal. He can be reached at jeff.clark@monroe360.com.