"I'm terribly glad he got to live long enough to see his granddaughter and the box set and see one more chapter in this very unlikely story of 40 years of people discovering this music that he had a big hand in making," Fry says. "Andy was just a beautiful guy." 

Fry and Terry both marvel over how Big Star's popularity built so slowly over the decades. Fry laughs about how people from Memphis University School (the private high school he, Hummel and Bell attended) were appalled by Fry's own decision to forego a conventional career path for a life in the music industry. Today, however, the school boasts Big Star memorabilia—and a music curriculum with facilities that include a recording studio. Yet Fry doesn't begrudge Hummel's choice to make music his hobby rather than his life.

Terry points out that at the time Hummel left the band, "there was nothing to walk away from." Hummel thought he was simply leaving behind a band that basically went nowhere to go on to college and career life—just as so many thousands of other musicians have done since before rock 'n' roll even existed. And it's clear he, too, believes Hummel made the right choice. Not just because Hummel was satisfied with his career at Lockheed—which included overseeing important design changes to the F-22 and F-16 jets—but because he was content with his musical accomplishments.

Andy Hummel plays at a 2009 New Year’s Eve party in Weatherford. Backing him on drums is his son Drew Hummel.
Photo by Richard Bettinger, Courtesy Mike Terry
Andy Hummel plays at a 2009 New Year’s Eve party in Weatherford. Backing him on drums is his son Drew Hummel.

"Although he did not talk about it a lot, I know he had the peace of mind that comes from creating some timeless music that touched and inspired literally thousands of people over decades," Terry said. "That is an amazing legacy for a musician."

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