Each local musician has his song. For Rod Powell, it was the Eagles' "Hotel California,quot;, said his friend and musician Shannon Tanner.
Armed with old classics like that and others from Neil Diamond, James Taylor, Jimmy Buffett and Crosby, Stills & Young, Powell pioneered the Vail music scene, building a community in the process.
When Powell died Saturday of COVID-19, one of Colorado's 26 reported victims of the country's rampaging coronavirus, it left a hole in the local apres-ski scene, Tanner and fellow musician Scott Rednor agreed.
"Aprés-ski, that's the social part," said Rednor. "That's,quot; after skiing, "you drink your beers, take your photos, and listen to music."
Rod Powell and Shannon Tanner Video
Powell was the king of the crowd, the accomplished artist, the two musicians agreed. And if you heard music walking down Bridge Street 30 years ago, there was a high probability that it was Powell.
“He became a very, very good friend of thousands of people. He had an innate ability to remember people and their names, "said Tanner. "He was like my brother. We were hooked to the hip every day. "
Tanner learned on March 10 that Powell had been hospitalized with pneumonia.
"The moment he walked in, they intubated him immediately," Tanner said. "He never said another word after that. Never, ever, spoke another word.
Nancy Powell Wilson, who lives in St. Joseph, Missouri, said it took about five days for test results for her younger brother to return, a frustratingly long time.
"It was a difficult time," he said. "I couldn't even leave because nobody could go to the hospital at that time."
His loss was especially hard because the brothers were the last of his family, Powell Wilson said. “We knew that we had each other. We knew we were there for each other. "
The couple grew up in the mid-size city in northwest Missouri, raised by musical parents, Powell Wilson said. His father played the violin in the city symphony for years, and his mother taught piano and sang at funerals and weddings.
Powell inherited his musical talent, playing in local bands before coming to Vail in the early 1980s.
He played with The New Christy Minstrels and another band called Crossroads, Powell Wilson said. He even cut a record in Nashville, but he couldn't buy much time on radio waves.
In Vail, Powell found a home in Pepi's bar and restaurant, where he rubbed shoulders with local and international celebrities alike.
One Christmas Eve, at Powell's urging, movie superstar Gregory Peck called his parents to wish them a happy holiday, Powell Wilson said. He glimpsed Princess Diana and their young children, William and Harry, once. He also received an autograph from former President Gerald Ford.
Once, after playing one of Dan Fogelberg's songs during a set, Powell Wilson said that his brother found out that Fogelberg had actually been in the audience.
"He took $ 20 out of his tip jar and said, 'If you're playing my songs, I'd better give me a tip,'" he said.
Like the bar's namesake, Pepi, Powell became a staple of Vail, Tanner said, building a decades-long musical career with constant work and steady friends.
Every time he played, Powell picked the notes for his Eagles favorite, but another one of his favorites was Jimmy Buffett's "A Pirate Looks at 40,quot;, Tanner said.
Powell and Tanner often played together.
"I had a schtick that if I went in, I would really want him to sing badly and he would really cheer me up," Tanner said. "It was a bit of a comedy. But then we would kill him.
Tanner said that he and others are hosting a jam sometime this year to commemorate their friend.
"We will have to do it in a big room because people will fly for this," said Tanner. "It will be the biggest Vail Jam we've ever done."