Advertisement

Archive for Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Stolen bass: Lawrence mom selling jewelry to help replace son’s instrument

Lauretta Hendricks-Backus, shown in her studio south of Lawrence, is hoping to sell 200 pairs of earrings to raise money for her son to buy a new string bass. Her son, Ozzie Backus V, had his bass stolen late last year in Mexico.

Lauretta Hendricks-Backus, shown in her studio south of Lawrence, is hoping to sell 200 pairs of earrings to raise money for her son to buy a new string bass. Her son, Ozzie Backus V, had his bass stolen late last year in Mexico.

April 14, 2009

Advertisement

“Fun and Funky Earrings” by Lauretta Hendricks-Backus are hand-crafted from silver. Hendricks-Backus hopes to raise money to help her son pay for a new string bass.

“Fun and Funky Earrings” by Lauretta Hendricks-Backus are hand-crafted from silver. Hendricks-Backus hopes to raise money to help her son pay for a new string bass.

Ozzie Backus V has been without his beloved bass since it was stolen in December in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Backus, a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music, has ordered a new bass which costs $18,000.

Ozzie Backus V has been without his beloved bass since it was stolen in December in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Backus, a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music, has ordered a new bass which costs $18,000.

Ozzie Backus V had it pretty good.

Five months removed from a degree from the New England Conservatory of Music, Backus was making a decent living in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, piecing together solo gigs and playing bass with friends in classical and jazz settings.

Then, he woke up one morning, and his bass was gone from the place he was staying.

“There were no signs of entry or anything,” he says. “It was a smack in the face. I was pretty depressed for a couple of weeks. I was in a haze.”

That was in December. He moved back to Lawrence shortly afterward.

This was all tough from his mom’s perspective.

“I’m his mother, and I can’t sit back and watch this happen,” says Lauretta Hendricks-Backus, who lives south of Lawrence.

But she adds: “We’re not in a position to write him a check like we would have a year ago.”

That’s because Hendricks-Backus’ husband, Ozzie Backus IV, was laid off from his job telecommuting to a California software company in November. And Hendricks-Backus has multiple sclerosis and is unable to work full-time, instead doing a variety of art projects.

She knows times are tough for others, too, so she didn’t even think about asking others for help outright. So she turned to her art.

A new bass costs about $18,000. Insurance covered $10,000 of the old bass, and Backus is borrowing $5,000. That leaves the family around $3,000 short.

“I started thinking if I could sell 200 pairs of earrings, that’s a significant amount of money,” Hendricks-Backus says.

She makes hand-crafted silver earrings that sell for $20 a pair. She calls them “Fun and Funky Earrings.”

She’s made a good portion of those 200 so far, but has only sold a handful. (She set up a Web site at rettahb.blogspot.com to sell them.)

Backus, 24, is a 2003 graduate of Lawrence High School. He wants to pursue a career as a full-time musician in Los Angeles, both performing classical and jazz and doing orchestral arrangements.

His new bass is being hand-crafted by the Upton Bass company in Connecticut. Without a bass, his livelihood has pretty much been halted.

“It’s definitely been stressful,” he says.

But having his mom volunteer to help out is easing that.

“I’m so glad and proud of her,” he says. “It’s a way for her to do her thing and help me out. They’re beautiful earrings. I’m so grateful.”

And when he gets his new bass?

“I’ll be sleeping with it for the next year,” he says.

Comments

TopJayhawk 5 years, 8 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

grammaddy 5 years, 8 months ago

As a mother of 5 and grandmother of 7, I can tell you that even grown children need some assistance these days. Who is she hurting by helping her son out. That's what Moms do. I feel good doing it. Who peeed in your Wheaties this morning TopJayhawk? And where can I get a pair of those earrings? Mom to Mom, I'd love to help.

grammaddy 5 years, 8 months ago

Aaawwwww! Now you went and did it. Top was just a little grumpy this morning, aren't we all at 6:14 in the am. No need to yank him off of here before his morning coffee. Defender, try to play nicely with the rest of us, will you?!

Chris Ogle 5 years, 8 months ago

I’ll be sleeping with it for the next year,” he says


Don't blame you Ozzie.... but make sure you get it first.

wysiwyg69 5 years, 8 months ago

wow, I guess defender just lowered me 2nd place, I'm glad he is in charge! defender thanks for getting the comment off before I saw it.

artwhore 5 years, 8 months ago

this is absolutely the craziest and most BS story I think i've read in a long long time. Do you really think that the handcrafted 18,000 bass is absolutely necessary? this is like having your honda stolen in mexico and then going out and buying a BMW. guess what, if you can't afford a BMW, maybe you should just get a new honda until you can afford a better car. Musician's Friend has a long list of upright basses for under 3000 bucks, let alone 18,000. now would it be nice to have the best bass that money can buy, sure it would, but don't make it out that if this guys mom doesn't sell her kidneys and live off foodstamps that he'll never be able to play the bass again. oh and here's a list of the MF upright basses for sale. as you'll notice, most of the cheapos under 1000, i'd probably stay away from, but it is possible to buy one under 3000 that'll last you for a while. at least until you can afford that bmw on your own.

http://bass-guitars.musiciansfriend.com/upright-bass

WHY 5 years, 8 months ago

Maybe you should get a real job. You could make that money in 2 months and get back to sitting on the curb and banging on you mug all day.

maxcrabb 5 years, 8 months ago

'She calls them “Fun and Funky Earrings.” '

Classic.

whatatown 5 years, 8 months ago

Wow...You can tell that there are a bunch of uncultured idiots posting here who have absolutely no idea how much stringed instruments cost. Go ahead...buy the cheapest, crappiest bass that money can buy and you are still looking at $5,000. To be able to play music at a professional level one must have professional grade equipment. I have had the pleasure of listening to Ozzie play and he is amazing! A truly top-notch musician. He has been on multiple international tours with professional symphonies and ensemble groups and was (prior to his work equipment being stolen) living the life that every musician dreams of.

How dare you people sit there and tell this guy to go get a job? If a computer programmer had his computer stolen, or if a contract carpenter had his tools stolen they wouldn't be able to work either UNTIL REPLACING THEM. That's all that he is doing...waiting to work until his job tools are replaced.

I am always shocked and amazed at the callous comments posted on these threads. How about if you people stop being so rude and ugly and go back to YOUR JOB.

jonas_opines 5 years, 8 months ago

For some their appears to be no disconnection between sidewalk guitarists and symphonic musicians. Or maybe they just ASSume that since this is appearing in the LJWorld it's about some panhandler, and didn't actually read the article to make an informed opinion.

Confrontation 5 years, 8 months ago

So, while his mom is making jewelry to raise money for him, he's sitting there thinking about his bass. Real classy guy.

WubblesMcTrub 5 years, 8 months ago

Artwhore asked, "Do you really think that the handcrafted 18,000 bass is absolutely necessary?"

Answer: Heck yea! When you are talking about a player of that talent level, 18k is just a drop in the bucket! You obviously have no concept of what a professional string instrument costs, especially an upright bass. You are right, at musician's friend (an awful place btw) you can buy a bass for 1,000-3,000 dollars, but even at 3 grand you are just getting into an OK beginners instrument. Something that would be perfectly suitable for a JR High Orchestra, but would be no more than a toy to an accomplished professional. And there is absolutely no doubt that Ozzie falls into the latter category. "this is like having your honda stolen in mexico and then going out and buying a BMW." What a poorly reasoned and inapt analogy. He already had a professional bass, it wasn't a "honda." A more appropriate comparison would be if Mario Andretti were to have his car stolen. You think he'd replace it with a "honda?"

Bottom Line: Oz is one of the most talented and original musicians in this state, and the world deserves to hear his music unfettered by substandard equipment. His mother believes in his abilities, and is happy to do what she can. I wish them luck!

whatatown 5 years, 8 months ago

I bought a pair of earring to help the cause!

Mike Myers 5 years, 8 months ago

waka,

You certainly could help a lot of homeless with that money. Great point. Perhaps all musicians everywhere should sell their instruments to help the homeless. We could start a whole movement. You and me, whad'ya think? Yea, and doctors could sell their instruments, artists could sell their brushes, carpenters their tools, rocket scientists could get lobotomies and then we could all be homeless sweeet! Good thinking man.

Graczyk 5 years, 8 months ago

waka1,

I am willing listen to your argument as soon as you sell your car and divulge how much money you spend per month on beer, cigarettes, and on-line porn. I'm sure you could help many people with that amount of money.

Newell_Post 5 years, 8 months ago

It's a little hard to imagine anyone named Ozzie Backus V. You would kind of think after Ozzie Backus III they would have been in the mood for a change.....

d_prowess 5 years, 8 months ago

Just in case I am missing it, where in the article does it say that the guy is not doing anything right now to also work towards the $3,000? Sure he can't be playing his music, but maybe he is doing something else.
I highly doubt he is just laying around waiting and hoping for his mom to eventually sell 200 pairs of earrings.

Jersey_Girl 5 years, 8 months ago

I'm going to give the idiots who are bashing on this story the benefit of the doubt and conclude they skipped the second sentance of the story that stated he has a degree from the New England Conservatory of Music. This isn't some kid who either skipped college or dropped out to become a musician. He IS a musician. Unil his bass was stolen, he was making a living playing music. His family has 5/6 of the money needed to replace the bass that was stolen. Do you write your posts out of ignorance or just to get a reaction?

Oh, and on a couple of threads today people are telling others to go get a job. Any advice on where to find these jobs you speak of?

jonas_opines 5 years, 8 months ago

"Any advice on where to find these jobs you speak of?"

Last time I asked that to one of them, the response was pretty much "Anybody can get a 200k job sitting on their butt at their computer if they wanted to work, so you're just a pinko commie" from Larry the Moocher.

Jersey_Girl 5 years, 8 months ago

jonas - remind me to get a job application from Larry.

Jersey_Girl 5 years, 8 months ago

So, waka, you want this kid to take the $10,000 he received from insurance from the stolen bass, donate it to a homeless shelter, waste the degree he got from the New England Conservatory of Music working in a "regular" job, perhaps helping the homeless? Maybe everybody at KU should drop out now instead of wasting more money on tution that could be given to help the homeless, unless they are in a social worker program of course, and get jobs that don't require college degrees. Don't get me wrong, I have sympathy for the homeless and think they deserve help. I just don't see how someone who has the talent it takes to get into a school like the NECM is making the world a better place by denying that talent.

artwhore 5 years, 8 months ago

if he was of "that" talent level, he'd have an endorsement and be getting his gear for free. just because he's the local boy don't make him out to be the second coming. if he got 10,000 for his stolen bass, then that's how much it was worth, and he should have probably got the 10,000 replacement. many professional musicians upgrade their gear throughout their carreer. just because you have to play on a measily 10,000 bass don't mean you move back home with mom and mope about your loses. many many many professional musicians play on gear that's not outrageously priced. the company that's making his bass has a nice line of double basses for 10-12k, which i believe is how much he has right now. i've heard guys playing on basses they found in the trash, restrung and recovered that sounded as sweet as any of those 20k basses that purest claim are required to be taken seriously. and FYI I am a bass player so don't call me uncultured or uninformed. music snobs are almost as bad as premadonnas. i think the point is, if we wanted to play music professionally, he could do it on a walmart bass if he wanted to, but he chose to go this route instead, and it kinda makes him look like a premadonna.

kinda reminds me of those breast implant webpages where girls grovel for new boobs. they think they need those to be taken seriously too.

Jersey_Girl 5 years, 8 months ago

artwhore - yes, the article clearly shows that he is forcing his mother into slavery to make these 200 earrings to help him get that bass. Or maybe, just maybe, his mother loves him and is proud of him and only wants the best for him.

kansaskate 5 years, 8 months ago

Normally, on principle, I wouldn't dream of responding to the lot of you who think that you're doing anything worthwhile by complaining from the break of day. I make it a point to not read your worthless opinions, but I know Ozzie and Retta and the rest of the family pretty well and I can tell you, no way in hell is Ozzie sitting on his butt doing nothing to get his livelihood back on track. How dare you assume such a thing. Ozzie worked hard for his degree and he's a lucky son-of-a-gun who is blessed to be able to make a living doing what he loves. If you've ever heard him play, you know how amazing he is. Any strings player knows there's a difference between a decent instrument and a "wal-mart" instrument. You can be sure the Backus' live humble, simple, loving lives, and Ozzie does nothing but make the world a better place every time he picks up his instrument.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 8 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Kyle Reed 5 years, 8 months ago

The term is "prima donna". If this article makes him look like one what do you suppose your negative comments about it make you look like? I believe it's referred to as an "a** hole".

bullseye 5 years, 8 months ago

I am a luthier here in town, I work on violin family instruments for a living and I happen to know Oz. First of all, 20K Is a starting price for a well made bass by a new respectable maker, and anybody who knows Ozzie's skills as a Bass musician knows the guy is a prodigy and If he were my kid, I would be investing everything I could for his future too. Oz has worked extremely hard to achieve what he has achieved and it is obvious that the all the support he has from his family has paid off. The bass he will be getting is comparable to the level of skill he is achieving and in short years to come It may even become his second bass, that is if he doesn't loose it.

p.s.- Musicians friend only offers basses that are dipped in lacquer, made by a machine in China and set up/modified by a underpaid immigrant here in the states,(for the higher end ones!). Suitable for the novice, but Oz was beyond this kind of instrument at the age of 5.

bullseye 5 years, 8 months ago

What I don't understand is, why does this have to be the rest of the worlds business? People are cruel and ruthless,(obviously),and I wouldn't want anyone to know anything about my personal financial situation.

pace 5 years, 8 months ago

ozzie v is an amazing talent, also a good guy. Best of luck to getting the music going.

jonas_opines 5 years, 8 months ago

"What I don't understand is, why does this have to be the rest of the worlds business?"

A small subsection of the world perhaps. I think the point was that it was something kind of sweet in the face of a poor situation, and they thought it might uplift people as a neat story. The problem being that here in the dark of the internet den, nice things like flowers don't grow very well. Just mold and mushrooms, and stinging little insects.

bullseye 5 years, 8 months ago

I wish that I was a stingy little insect on top of a freshly blossomed morel mushroom that I get to eat all by myself on a beautiful spring morning.

Retta H-b 5 years, 8 months ago

Hi it's me the Mom! thanks for all the support stated above. I appreciate it!

maddieful123 5 years, 8 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Danimal 5 years, 8 months ago

Hope he gets his new bass, too bad the old one wasn't insured or something. I think the story was kind of worded to sound like this poor guy hasn't really done much for himself. That's the impression I was left with.

Seriously, the way you guys all jump on each other over meaningless stuff is just despicable.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 8 months ago

"Hope he gets his new bass, too bad the old one wasn't insured or something. I think the story was kind of worded to sound like this poor guy hasn't really done much for himself. That's the impression I was left with."

From the story--

"A new bass costs about $18,000. Insurance covered $10,000 of the old bass, and Backus is borrowing $5,000. That leaves the family around $3,000 short."

Perhaps your impression comes from your poor reading comprehension, and the desire to put down someone you don't even know, rather than from the wording of the article.

Kyle Reed 5 years, 8 months ago

You might try some of the reading comprehension on for size yourself bozo. He didn't put the guy down.

natnat 5 years, 8 months ago

Ozzie is one of the most talented and hardworking artists that I have had the pleasure of meeting. He has been an inspiration to me personally and many others that I know. I am very grateful to his mother for being so supportive, I know Ozzie has not been himself since his bass was snatched. He is not the only one missing it.... we will all be glad when we get to hear his music again =)

Commenting has been disabled for this item.