By a stroke of good luck, Tommy Alverson was almost poisoned to death.
Alverson, wife Amy Alverson, and their two young kids –– daughter Piper and son Willie –– drove their motor home to College Station on Oct 14 for a show. After Alverson’s gig that night, they bedded down in the RV in a pretty meadow surrounded by trees. It had been a great trip.
But then Piper and Willie complained about not feeling well. Piper, in particular, was insistent that something felt wrong. Her insistence might have saved all of their lives.
Amy called 911.
The family was being gagged unknowingly by a silent, odorless killer. Their trailer had sprung a carbon monoxide leak. Emergency workers put all four of them on oxygen masks and rushed them to the emergency room at a nearby hospital. The family recovered after an overnight stay. But during testing, doctors discovered Tommy had other troubles.
“They said, ‘We’re keeping you –– your heart numbers are not looking good,’ ” Alverson recalled. “The next morning, they said, ‘We can’t help you with a heart catheter. You’re going to have to get busted open.’ That was like getting kicked in the head by a mule.”
Alverson had a bum ticker and needed a quadruple bypass heart surgery.
“It was like, ‘Oh, shit. Here we go,’ ” he said.
He remained in the hospital a week after the surgery before returning to his Mineral Wells home to recuperate.
“I’ve never been through anything like this in my life,” he said. “It’s like I’m never going to heal. I know I am, but it just takes so long.”
Surgeons took veins from his leg to use for his heart. He is undergoing physical therapy and hasn’t returned to full strength but is getting close.
“I’ve lost weight and feel better,” he said.
Amy described the whole incident as a blessing in disguise: “Had we not had the carbon monoxide scare, we wouldn’t have known [Tommy] needed surgery,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “The cardiologist said I would’ve just woke up without him one morning.”
Nicknamed the “Godfather of Metroplex Honkytonk,” Alverson is well known for his brand of Lone Star country music that accentuates the steel guitar and twangy good times. He has written and recorded popular tunes such as “Uno Mas Cerveza” and “Texas Woman,” performed with Willie Nelson, Rusty Wier, and many other artists; hosted his annual Family Gathering music festival for 20 years; and was inducted into the Fort Worth Weekly Music Hall of Fame in 2006.
Alverson discusses his surgery (and how he got that nickname) on a recent edition of Toast & Jam, a video series hosted by Weekly associate editor Jeff Prince, which ends with their singing “Take These Chains from My Heart” by Hank Williams.
Alverson’s first post-recovery gig with his band is Fri, Jan 12, at Lil’ Red’s Longhorn Saloon (121 W Exchange Av, 817-740-0078) in the Stockyards.