December 9, 2009
Bobby Harrison died suddenly in Chicago on Nov. 20 of an apparent heart attack.
Born in downstate Illinois in 1940, Bobby was raised by loving parents who adopted him. His father was a coal miner who loved music and New York piano man Bobby Short was named after him. A self-taught piano player with perfect pitch, Bobby began performing in church at an early age.
In his early 20s, he migrated to Chicago and began playing in the best venues of the area. Seeking a change, Bobby moved to Aspen in 1973 and immediately became known.
In the mid-1980s, Bobby was in the news. He was driving with Michael Hernsteadt as a passenger when Keith Porter gunned Hernsteadt down. Ironically, Bobby had been the one that tried to reconcile the bad feelings between Hernsteadt and Porter. After that incident, he returned to Chicago and then began a tour of Europe that lasted throughout the rest of the ’80s and most of the ’90s.
A consummate performer, he loved it most when talent would come out of the audience to join him at the piano for a song. He longed for one more night when Don Henley might walk in and he could play “Desperado” for him.