BY SALLIE MAGGARD
Eddie Montoya was found deceased on the streets of the Tower District in August 2023, and there was a memorial for him on Sept. 10. His name has been submitted to the National Homeless Memorial.
Eddie was a lovely person and a wonderful lead guitar player for many years here in Fresno. His passing hurts deeply. We were musicians, and we played together for almost 40 years. We were close friends.
We went through a lot together, and we made it to several of our friends’ funerals and performed for them, which is not easy to do especially when you are in touch with this person, but the family is counting on you to perform for their loved ones who have departed.
Somehow Eddie and I made it through every one of those funerals. There was nothing in this world that Eddie wouldn’t do for his fellow man or lady in the city. He played at many events for free; no matter what, he was there with me alongside willing to sing my heart out for whatever event we were doing for free.
Sometimes he played on the streets of the Tower District during the day. He had his own business as a gardener for many many years.
I’m going to be standing for my Eddie, and I wish things could have been different before he passed but sometimes this world is so cruel to where you can’t breathe or think or know which way to go.
I hear all the time about all this money. About $6 million given for the homeless here in Fresno, yet do I see it being used for the homeless. I don’t see it. I hear about how they build apartments for the homeless, that they’re affordable. What homeless person can afford $1,200 a month for that apartment? If they could afford that, they wouldn’t be homeless.
I live now in my car because I can’t afford $1,200 a month. I’m on SSI (Supplemental Security Income), and I’m disabled. I worked my arm to death plus I have lupus. I have severe bone arthritis. There’s not a date that goes by when I’m not in pain.
I don’t sing much anymore, I retired from the stage because no one wants to pay us what we’re worth. I see their cash registers go ching ching ching, and yet they want to only pay us for the entertainment $50, $25, per man or lady, and that is not going to cover the cost of even showing up there.
There was a time in Fresno when we could make a decent living singing and performing, and showing our talents. Eddie and I had many disagreements on accepting an engagement to perform for someone or some club because of the money.
Musicians have to pay bills too, like anybody else, and it’s not easy for us to devote ourselves financially, traveling and loading up the heavy equipment. I was blessed because the only thing I had to load was my microphone.
But to all the musicians who are struggling as homeless out there, the only thing I can say to you is love yourself, honor yourself and take care of yourself, and if I had the money I would take care of all of you. Maybe someday I will return to the stage, but for now I just pray to our Lord Jesus Christ and my savior that he will help me find a way in my own homelessness.
I mourn the loss of Eddie, the guitar player of my life. I will never forget the memories I hold dear in my heart, in my mind. The laughs, the cries that we had together sharing the secrets of our souls and spirit just waiting for the next performance.
I know when my day will come, Eddie will be there at heaven’s gate to greet me for he was a generous man and one of the strongest men I knew, as well as a most talented man and a great lead guitarist.
I love you Mr. Montoya, rest in peace.