Scott Dempster — bassist, singer and long-time fixture on the Tampa Bay rock scene — survived a heart attack that struck while he was performing on stage in Ocala. It happened during a recent set with his current band Peace of Woodstock.
This is disheartening news — but it sure as hell beats the alternative. (I definitely don’t care to become CL’s de facto music obit writer.) As good fortune would have it, a cardiologist was in the audience and was able to attend to Scott until EMS arrived and took him to the nearest hospital.
The most current news is that Scott’s in the hospital and scheduled to have a procedure this week. He may require bypass surgery.
Dempster was a long-time member of The Headlights, arguably the best power-pop-oriented rock band the Bay area has ever produced. Like so many other local groups from the 1980s and ’90s, The Headlights rubbed shoulders with a genuine national breakthrough — one that never fully materialized. They toured for a spell as the backing band for Roger McGuinn, the former member of The Byrds who lived in Pinellas County for several years.
Back in the hey-days, Dempster was an easygoing presence on the scene, quick with a smile, a quip. He was highly regarded for his consistently rock-solid bass work. He’s obviously got music in his veins, because as far as I know he never stopped playing, never stopped being part of this band or that.
Maya Jade Connelly, the daughter of Steve Connelly, Dempster’s former band mate in The Headlights, has started a fundraising effort at YouCaring.com and you can donate here. Scott works for the City of Largo and thus has health insurance, but, as Maya writes, “there's always those pesky co-pays, deductibles, and of course, living expenses.”
Here’s to wishing Scott a full and speedy recovery.