Don Thiergard, One of Pete's Oldest and Dearest Friends, Pays Tribute
At 10:55 on a winter’s night in 1969 I backed into a car parked across from my driveway. The car actually belonged to a friend of Peter’s family. After exchanging the required insurance information I remained for another few hours talking with Peter about anything and everything. Thus began a lifelong friendship that I have treasured for over 43 years.
Six months after I met Peter he began a life at WNEW that would change the lives of countless thousands of listeners. Peter became many things to many people. He was a confidant, a musical genius, an inspiration, a writer. But that’s not the gift he gave to us.
Most of us met Peter sitting in front of a radio while he was having a musical conversation with us. He did most of the talking. It wasn’t a call-in show, but he simply knew what we were thinking and feeling. He weaved music into our lives. He made connections for us and brought our minds and emotions to places where we could laugh, ponder, or cry. You see, Peter always told me that radio was intensely personal. He played and spoke to each one of us as if we were actually the only one listening. We all came to believe that he knew who we were personally, cared for us individually and he became our best friend. Such was his legacy, such was his gift to us all.
Because of his gift, each of us will remember him and cherish him for the rest of our lives. He and I both loved the song “Old Friends” on the S&G album “Bookends”. When I turned 70 last year, Peter was insistent that we find someone to take a picture of us sitting on a park bench. We did! He felt it would celebrate the lyric from the song which read:
Can you imagine us years from today
Sharing a park bench, quietly
How terribly strange to be 70.
I don’t know how to say goodbye to my old friend. I thank Paul Simon for giving me the words from last lines of the Old Friends song:
A time it was, and what a time it was, it was
A time of innocence, a time of confidences
Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph
Preserve your memories, they’re all that’s left you.
From a distance, my dear friend, I love you. Until we meet again.