For anyone that has ever been, loved, or known a traveling musician, you know that the road they travel can be a rough one. Long van rides, truck stop food and way too many late nights can take a serious toll on a body. But what happens when something seriously goes wrong? In May of this year Chad Sullins, frontman for the Oklahoma band Chad Sullins and the Last Call Coalition, found out first hand just how fast things can change and go from bar lights to ambulance lights.
At a bar somewhere in Oklahoma as Chad and his bandmates readied themselves to take the stage, something went terribly wrong. Dizziness, a cold sweat and serious chest pains nearly brought Chad to his knees. Luckily there was someone close by with some sort of medical training and a quick look over lead them to believe that Chad was indeed having a heart attack. He was rushed out the back of the bar and away to the local ER where after some testing and observation they confirmed it.
At 36, Chad Sullins was having a heart attack.
I was at that show that night and, as a friend of Chad and his LCC mates Josh Rutz, Jesse Holcomb and Jeremy Clark, I drove the guys to the ER and stayed until the decision was made to transfer Chad to a heart hospital in Oklahoma City. In the next few days after lots of testing and several doctors the verdict finally came in. Chad had had a heart attack and now has a small hole in the wall of his heart. One doctor there then told him that he should never play music again and that just didn’t sit well. So after talking to a more open and honest doctor, chad was given a choice. He could take on a major change in nearly every aspect of his lifestyle or never play music again. No smoking. A radical change in his diet. Exercise. And daily medications. Or die…
After his release from the hospital, Chad took 2 months off to heal up. Get his mind right and set the course for his return to music. The rest of the band, well they had to figure out how to keep the train rolling. You have to remember that as a touring band, if they are not on the road playing show, they don’t get paid. This was their job and source of income. How do you keep touring as a band with no lead singer? That’s when LCC called in good friend and fellow Okie Ryan Reid. Ryan, Josh, Jeremy and Jesse went out on the road performing a meshed up set of LCC songs and Ryan’s songs and kept things on track for Chad’s return.
I had the opportunity to sit in on the first band rehearsal once the doctors had given Chad the go ahead to get back on the road. As a fan of the band it was great to see them back playing those old familiar tunes. As a friend I was still a little worried about how it would all go down. Could Chad hold up to the rigors of the road? Had he taken enough time off? For a band that has been known to party pretty hard, would the changes that the band was making effect the show?
We sat and talked that night about what lies ahead of the band. There will be changes to the way they do business. There will be less drinking and partying after shows. Lessons were learned by everyone in the band. Josh Rutz said that they were all kinda forced to look at how fast things can change and how short life really can be and that realization has given them more focus and drive to push things to the next level. Nobody really seemed to be nervous about having to go at things from a little different approach. They actually seemed to be looking forward to what they can accomplish with the changes being made.
The band has been back on the road now for a couple of weeks and I talked to Josh the other day to see how it was going. He told me that the fan reaction has been amazing. The first shows they played were in North Texas and the crowds were bigger there than they had been before. They are still working out how to find the healthiest food at a truck stop in the middle of North Texas but that will come in time. Chad is handling it all well and does monitor his blood pressure often while they are out on the road. It looks like there is still a lot of time left before the Last Call…