Where do I start? I’m at a loss for words. For those of you who know me well, that doesn’t happen often. I never expected to write this blog post anytime soon and finding the words has taken some time. Not only have I lost a great friend, but the Autodesk and AUGI community have lost a shining light. The recent passing of the lovely Bill Adams (affectionately known as Blads or Biwh) was unexpected, and it has cut to the quick for me.
You could always find Bill on the AUGI booth at Autodesk University (AU) with a ready smile with eyes that always twinkled with mischief. He was always kind, welcoming and honest (sometimes brutally, LOL). That was Blads. His phrase “Ah, f**k it” will stick with me forever and his incredible spirit when it came to his health was inspirational.
Professionally, we started as colleagues, attending the Autodesk University conference (AU) in Las Vegas and working as Board Directors for what was then Autodesk User Group International (AUGI). AU 2006 was my first year in Vegas and we discovered a kinship being linked by the Commonwealth; Australia and the UK. We were friends from that day onwards, sharing musical tastes and a penchant for good wine and good whisky. Many a ‘room meeting’ in Vegas was hosted by Bill and his incredible wife Karen in their hotel room, out of hours, where wine and whisky flowed, along with many crazy conversations, laughter and our geeky humour. Those late night and early morning memories will never fade.
Bill was an AUGI veteran, who provided me with the guidance and mentorship that gave me the confidence to apply to be a Director on the AUGI Board, where I served AUGI for five years. During those AUGI years, the ‘three amigos’ was formed. Bill, Scott Wilcox and me. We became brothers from other mothers. We spent time together at AU in Vegas as well as sharing time in San Rafael and San Francisco at AUGI meetings. Bearing in mind that Bill was from Australia, Scott was from Canada, and I was from the UK, it was a real Commonwealth effort!
Our step counters must have loved us. We walked for miles together. Our first walk was in San Rafael on my first trip out to Autodesk as an AUGI Board Director and Scott commented on this recently. At drinks in Bill’s room, Bill suggested a walk around the hotel lake before breakfast the following morning. Scott and I agreed and asked what time. Bill replied succinctly, “5:30am”. Scott and I thought he was kidding, since it was already 1:00am, but there we were in the lobby at 5:30am, bleary eyed and somewhat the worse for wear. As Scott mentioned, we were glad we got up early that day, because from that day and afterwards, there was always camaraderie and positivity between us. I still remember it well, because at 1am beforehand I was dozing off in an armchair, due to jetlag and whisky, but we made it around the lake at 5.30am! That first walk seems like only yesterday. The miles we must have done in San Francisco during our annual pilgrimage to Chinatown with lunch at Chef Hung’s, and to the Apple stores in Las Vegas too! The walk to Coit Tower in San Francisco was most definitely a workout as well. I dread to think how many miles we walked together in Las Vegas and San Francisco, but all those miles included great conversation and banter.
Like me, Bill was a wine and whisky buff. He was my friend, a confidante and a colleague with a ready smile and a heart the size of a small planet. At Bill and Karen’s hotel room ‘gatherings’ there was always generosity and love. And whisky, always whisky, LOL. I always felt included around Bill and Karen. Their love towards me was unconditional, and at numerous AU’s, it was something that made the trip across the Atlantic even more worthwhile.
Talking of love, there was also brotherly love, combined with a wicked sense of humour between the ‘three amigos’. I always wear a scarf, and it is sort of a trademark for me and has featured in numerous promotional shots for my music. The shot below shows me looking somewhat pensive in a guitar promo shoot, wearing my scarf.
As you can see below, the other two ‘amigos’ never failed to bring me back down to earth.
And so, the scarf trend was set, and the nickname ‘Scarfboy” for me came about. I could always rely on both Bill and Scott for humour and being grounded in the real world. Bill was such an honest human being, saying exactly what he thought about anything. This made for some VERY entertaining AUGI meetings. Just ask Scott and the lovely Melanie Stone (AUGI secretary at the time). Bill was never backward at coming forward. Saying that though, he would also always step up to help a friend, and I am honoured that he classed me as that, a friend, through and through.
As I have already mentioned, Bill’s indomitable spirit regarding his health was inspirational. He had numerous health issues, but you’d never know it. He was a fighter. Always. Positivity oozed from him, all the time. Recently he had to have knee surgery. Just before that, he attended AU and had to use a mobility scooter. If anybody should have had to take a driving test before using one, it was Bill. Going forwards was not a problem, but reversing was his Achilles heel. I lost count of how many AU attendees he nearly took out when going backwards, especially in the AU Registration Hub! It was one of many hilarious memories I’ll have of Bill. His humour and downright doggedness to keep going, regardless of his health, is what I will always remember. If I ever have a low day, remembering his smile and the mischievous twinkle in his eyes will always brighten my mood.
Last October was the last time I saw Bill at his home in beautiful Hallett Cove in South Australia. A lovely afternoon was spent drinking wine and enjoying nibbles with Bill and his wonderful wife, Karen. The wine flowed and there was great conversation, much laughter and a great sense of love in the room. Bill and Karen always made everyone feel so welcome, so included, and I am so glad that we saw Bill on his best form that day. That is how I will remember him. Wine glass in hand, chatting animatedly and making us laugh.
As his lovely wife Karen posted on his Facebook wall, today is a good day to die. For Bill, with his incredible outlook on life, EVERY day was a good day to die because of a life well-lived, with humour, courage, grace and love. Bill was my brother, and he will always be missed, but I just know that I will always smile when I think of him.
Yes, mate, you will be missed by many, but I bet you’re already cataloguing the wine on the shelves, wherever you are. Keep that ice cold, and the Crown Royal ready. I’ll see you on the other side.