Dr. Richard Patt, a former anaesthesiologist and longtime member of the Houston blues community, passed away early Sunday morning, according to a post by Houston Blues Society president Gail Singer on the HBS Facebook group.
For many years Patt, 58, was front man for Dr. Rick and the Burners, a mainstay in the local blues scene, and had recently started the more acoustically-oriented group Dr. Rick's Fool's Paradise. He had recently entered hospice care for end-stage lung cancer, but showed up last week at The Big Easy for an almost impromptu set at the Upper Kirby club's Wednesday-night Big & Easy Blues Jam.
"He wanted to come and do a little farewell, because he had gotten like a two-week diagnosis the day before," Singer says.
Patt performed three or four songs, and then was joined onstage by Starvin' Marvin of '90s Houston swamp-rockers Dropkick Chihuahuas for what Singer smilingly calls a "jam within a jam."
"He had Rick singing his backup doo-wop parts, and Starvin' Marvin proceeded to totally blow away the entire audience," she says. "He's a great entertainer."
Patt trained as an anaesthesiologist and worked at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center for several years, and later founded the Patt Center for Cancer Pain & Wellness and most recently treated many local musicians at Doctors Clinic of Houston on U.S. 290.
"I believe he was smarter and knew more than most people," Houston saxophonist Eric Demmer, leader of Eric Demmer and the Sax Dawgs, wrote on Facebook. "I would put him in the upper class of people that think on a higher plane of existence, but he lived with us common people.
"I think he was a brilliant doctor," Demmer added. "He helped me and my family, and many others in the music community that might not have been able to get help."
However, Demmer wrote, "though he was a doctor, every time I saw him his guitar was always near by or in his hands."
Patt was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer in March of last year. He went about his business as best he could, and kept an impressive schedule with Fool's Paradise. In August, he hosted a fundraiser at the Continental Club -- he was careful not to call it a benefit -- so he could be part of the festivities, saying "I think it's sad sometimes when the people [affected] can't be present and participate.
"For I'm sure a huge variety of reasons, when something like this comes down, people just kind of lick their wounds and hunker in and you just don't hear or see much of them," he added.
But he was determined to not go down that way.
"Looking back, I've had a very interesting life," Patt continued. "I'm choosing to regard this as part and parcel of what is a full life, kind of like a field trip. My question is, 'What can I learn from this?'"
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Patt is survived by his wife Pauline, two brothers and his father. Singer said there are no immediate plans for a memorial service, but she had no doubt the HBS would find an appropriate way to remember Dr. Rick.