Area residents who knew and loved Amy and Derrick Ross, better known as Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl, honored them Tuesday night in a special, twilight celebration of lives cut short by tragic consequences.
In Willcox on Sunday, where the couple had planned to play with Buzz and the Soul Senders at the Willcox Wine Country Fall Wine Festival, roses were left on the stage at Railroad Park. The couple had played many wine festivals and events in Willcox.
Arizona Musicians Branden Pyle, Brandon Segarra, and Mike Ellis of the band, 13 to the Gallows, stepped in to play a three-piece combo on Sunday afternoon at the event.
The Arizona Range News posted an article on willcoxrangenews.com from 2007, a few months after the Ross’ moved to Willcox.
Kim Johnson of Willcox, said, “I believe this is around the time I first met them, in Willcox. I have a crystal-clear memory of hearing a voice singing in Safeway at 10 p.m. on a Thursday night, the next aisle over, and then we met up with Amy and Derrick in the checkout line. That’s when I realized that the voice I heard was Amy’s - which caught me because we had just heard them perform a week or so earlier. Tom (Thomas Ale Johnson) knew them already, but that was the first time I met them.”
Amy suffered from lupus, an immune system disease that wreaks havoc on internal organs. She died Monday morning in Tucson from kidney complications resulting from the disease, according to reports received from friends.
Sgt. Benjamin Reyna of the Bisbee Police Department said Derrick was found dead Tuesday morning at the couple’s home, apparently from suicide. Reyna did not know the time of death.
The duo was well-known around Willcox, where they lived from 2007 to 2010 before moving to Bisbee.
They played often at the Blue House in Willcox after joining their friends Mark and Jessica Breen, music teachers at Willcox School District and owners of The Blue House.
After the Breens left Willcox for Vail, the Ross’ moved several months later to Bisbeetown and played at many Bisbee pubs and restaurants and volunteered their talents for a number of charitable events in town. They were extremely popular with the locals and many are mourning the loss.
Marianne Summerville opened St. John’s Presbyterian Church to offer people who knew the couple the opportunity to silently share their thoughts and offer their prayers to the couple who were so deeply in love with their music and each other.
“They played once a month at our services,” added Summerville. “We will miss them.”
People began filing into the Grand Saloon around 6 p.m., and it was evident from the red eyes and distraught faces that the couple had impacted many lives in their years in Bisbee.
Joseph Brand met Amy and Derrick in Tucson during a performance at Plush.
“After hearing them, I bought one of their albums and immediately became a fan,” said Brand. “When I moved here 10 years ago, I was surprised to find they had moved here, too.”
Kate Drew-Wilkinson felt that losing the couple created “a crater, like the Lavender Pit,” in Bisbee life.
“We are all thoroughly dazed at the news. They played everywhere,” added Drew-Wilkinson.
Brand noted, “No one ever had anything bad to say about them. They were good people. She had so much talent and played with wistful abandon. Things seemed to come naturally for her.”
Amber Wakeman, owner of Framed in Bisbee, was gathering photos people had of the couple to make a collage to pass on to the Ross’s family members.
“We’re trying to locate the family and let them know how much Amy and Derrick were loved,” commented Wakeman. “We feel a vacuum in our lives now.”
Wakeman said that just by knowing the couple, it made her relationship with her husband even stronger.
“They were playful. They were friends. It was just an inspiration to see them interact,” added Wakeman. “I think that anyone who saw them play felt like they knew them through their music. ‘We’ll miss them’ doesn’t sound adequate enough to describe how we feel.”
On Amy’s Facebook page last Monday (Oct. 14) at 4:49 p.m. is a note written as if it was Amy, by comedian, friend and landlord, Doug Stanhope: “Hey kids! Bad news! I died this morning and Derrick didn’t know how to tell you. I love you all and hope you go out and be nice to someone. Funerals are a bore so hopefully I don’t have one. Give Derrick some space… He stinks at this stuff so leave him be for now. Thanks for all the kindness… Please spread it around. Whiskey”
Then Tuesday morning (Oct. 15), at 10:16 a.m., came this post: “Sorry to bring more bad news, but Derrick decided to join me at some point in the night last night. I thought it best you heard it from me. Enjoy every sandwich. We love and will miss you all. Go be nice to someone for us.”
“Go be nice to someone for us.” Fitting last words for a couple who shared such joy for life, love and music.
A memorial service for Nowhere Man & Whiskey Girl (Derrick and Amy Ross) was held on Tuesday, Oct. 22 at 10 a.m. St. Johns Episcopal Church in Bisbee.
A permanent memorial is being prepared in Bisbee. If you want to include something or send condolences, contact:
122 Mountain View Rd.
Bisbee, AZ 85603