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It's Happening: Glen Shaffer's Life and Passion for Music Remembered

By Julie Perine on July 26, 2017 via Connect-Bridgeport.com

A shock was felt Sunday by the local music community when talented musician Glen Shaffer II passed away in his sleep after spending an evening doing what he loved – playing a gig.
 
“We lost a great musician, but he was also just a good person; genuine and down-to-earth. I don’t think he had a bad bone in his body,” said Shannon Shields Harvey, longtime friend and fellow band member of “Crimson Reign.” 
 
A vocalist, Shannon first crossed paths with Glen when they both attended Bridgeport High School. He was playing music with his band at a school assembly. 
 
“I got up and sang a few songs with them,” said Shannon, who was a few years behind Glen in school. “I just kind of got to know him from that point and when I was a junior or senior, I started playing with him in a group. That’s kind of what started ‘Crimson Reign.’”
 
Through the years, the band has played classic southern rock at local bars and restaurants – including Main Street Station, Brickside and The Wilderness Plantation – as well as other events, including Bridgeport’s Benedum Festival. They also opened for groups, including the renowned Charlie Daniels Band. 
 
Members of Crimson Reign have come and gone, but Shannon and Glen have been mainstays. 
 
“He went to Nashville for a little while and did his own thing, then I went to Nashville and did my own thing, but no matter what, we always came back together,” Shannon said.
 
It was easy playing with Glen and always fun to be around him.
 
“It was his personality. No matter what was going on in his life, he was always smiling or always had something funny to say,” she said. “He always made the mood lighthearted and he always had fun playing out. There was never any tension. No matter who played with us, the fun was always there.”
 
And he was certainly easy to listen to. He created the kind of music that gets down deep into your soul – and it was definitely rooted in Shannon’s. 
 
“Between his guitar and his vocals, he was just one of those who you could sit and listen to all the time,” she said. “He and I just always had a connection on stage through vocals and instruments. I just kind of felt like he was my left-hand guy.” 
 
John Bonnett started playing music with Glen when they were 12 or 13 years old. They met through James Aaron Honce and his dad Jim, members of the music community. 
 
Glen was a self-taught guitarist – and an extremely good one. 
 
“At age 12, he was better than most adults,” John said. 
 
As the years went on and John got to know Glen better, he found out why.
 
“Glen was one of those people who had tunnel vision. If he wanted to learn to play guitar, that was all that mattered and about all he did,” John said. “He had a one-track mind and was very focused on what he was trying to achieve.”
 
While other teens were off doing things teens do, Glen and John were somewhere - often in John’s garage – playing music. It was the beginnings of the band, “Rock Bottom.”
 
In recent years, they played and performed separately, but spent a lot of time together. They were both also affiliated with Showtime Music, where John works as a guitar tech and where Glen has been an instructor for the past several months. 
 
Though he had been playing guitar most of his life, he had never taught. But he had no trouble connecting with and getting through to his students.
“He’s grown so much as a teacher during the past eight months,” said David Zinn, head of the music program at Showtime Music. “He really came into his own as a guitar teacher. You kind of have to sell yourself.”
 
Regardless of an instructor’s knowledge with his instrument, students aren’t going to learn if there isn’t a connection. That was never a problem with Glen, David said. 
 
That was very evident at a recent recital of Glen’s guitar students.
 
“You could see the joy the kids had after they were done performing. He opened their eyes to so many different things. He was absolutely in love with teaching,” David said. 
 
He helped the kids find their own niche and genre – whether that was rock, folk or heavy metal.
 
“Heavy metal was not Glen’s thing, but he got to the point that he showed kids all the techniques – things they needed to do to be able to pull it off,” David said. “He never had any trouble with the kids. He found his own groove and pointed them in their own directions.”
 
But Glen’s connection with the kids went beyond music. 
 
This past weekend, Showtime Music’s Randy Franklin called several of the students and their families to tell them about Glen’s passing. They shared some stories with him.
 
“One lady told me how much Glenny meant to her and her daughter – that he had changed their lives,” Randy said. “She said her daughter had been bullied at school and went through some horrible, horrible times. She started taking (guitar) lessons and became a completely different person.”
 
Previously introverted, she came out of her shell; gaining not only a talent, but also confidence. 
 
Glen’s passion for music – and his compassion for people - were unmatched, Randy said.
 
Becky Bonnett, John’s wife, said she will forever remember Glen’s sense of humor. 
 
“He always made people laugh and they were at ease with him,” she said. “It didn’t matter what was going on, he would make a joke of it somehow.”
 
And though he was indeed passionate about his music, Becky said the No. 1 priority in his life was his 12-year-old son Glen Shaffer III. 
“His world revolved around him,” Becky said. 
 
Glen’s Aunt Vickie Echard Bland remembers very well when he was just a little boy. 
 
“He lived with us for 13 years. He and my son Mikey were like brothers,” Vickie said. “They did everything together – even got in trouble. I loved him as if he was one of mine.”
 
Vickie, like everyone, said music has always been part of Glen’s life. 
 
“The first band he played in was with my husband – his Uncle Mike Bland - my son Mikie and my nephew (Glen’s cousin) Ricky Bland,” Vickie said. ”It was called ‘Country Wildfire’ and they played for weddings, area festivals and some bars.”
 
When Ricky died of cancer at the age of 16, the boys were heartbroken. The band dissolved. 
 
“But Glen stuck to his playing,” Vickie said. 
 
Vickie said there’s been a change in Glen since her sister Carolyn – Glen’s mother - passed away four years ago. 
 
“He and his mom were very close. The loss of her changed him,” she said.  
The death of his friend James Aaron Honce, in March of 2015, also took quite a toll on Glen, his friends said. 
 
Glen had his struggles, including Crohn’s Disease, high blood pressure and other health issues. 
 
Music was his passion, as well as his way to cope. He never let anyone or anything take that from him.
 
“If he was having a hard time with life, he’d go play guitar and forget about everything,” John said. 
 
Glen was 38 years old. Read his obituary and service arrangements HERE at Davis Funeral Home.
 
Top photo of Glen is from his Facebook page. Photo of "Crimson Reign" is courtesy of Shannon Shields Harvey. Following two photos are courtesy of Brandy Skittles Bell. Photos of Glen and John Bonnett, Glen and Becky Bonnett and Glen and his son Glen III are courtesy of the Bonnetts. 
 


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