Former Bandmate of Slain Orlando Musician Reflects on “Brother”

Ralph Ameduri, Jr. (Photo credit: Clay Watson)

Former bandmate of the Orlando musician who was shot and killed in an attempted robbery Saturday, spoke out today, remembering him “like a brother.”

Ralph Ameduri, Jr., 45, a bass player, was behind Jessie’s Bar in Winter Haven while taking a break from performing around 1:00 a.m, when an unknown gunman approached him and shot a bullet through Ameduri’s head.

The man, dressed in a black shirt and white shorts, forced Ameduri and friends to their knees before releasing the trigger.

Investigators continue to search for the the suspect who fled and continues to be on the loose. He is a black male between the ages of 25 and 30, weighing 165-170 pounds and about 5’11? tall.

Clay Watson has known Ameduri since 1985 when they were in the music program at – what was then called – Seminole Community College.

He recalled the morning when he received several phone calls from people attempting to tell him what happened, which left Watson in shock. Friends of the Ameduri tried to revive him until the ambulance came.

“They did the best they could. They tried to keep him alive as long as possible doing CPR,” Watson said. “A lot of those people spent the night in the hospital until six or seven in the morning.”

Ameduri was taken to Winter Haven Hospital, then flown to Lakeland Regional Medical Center, where he died.

Ameduri joined the Legendary JC’s from 2001 to 2008, playing alongside Watson, who said Ameduri was generous and “like a brother.”

“When you have brothers like that – like the JC’s, we were all like brothers – you just have this bond,” Watson said.

Watson recounts the memories of bumping into Ameduri at the corner store in their neighborhood and seeing Ameduri in his car with his dog Nixon, in the passenger seat. Watson said he especially remembers Ameduri encouraging him and other friends to choose Jim Bean as their beverage of choice.

“Ever since then, we all drank Jim Bean on the rocks; not just me,” he said. “I told the [new JC’s] on Saturday we drink Jim Bean because of Ralph.”

Ameduri has been in Orlando’s music scene for 30 years working in over 20 bands playing guitar and bass. He was very well-known and respected because he had much talent, having been one of the best bass players in Orlando, Watson said, working with such legends as jazz musician Sam Rivers.

“When Ralph started playing the bass [for the JC’s], everything just came together,” Watson said. “It was a great idea. A lot of talent on the stage, but once Ralph got up there, it became like the glue, the anchor. That’s when the band started to rock.”

According to Watson, they started to sell out shows at local venues and began going abroad outside of Florida.

Watson said that it wasn’t over for Ralph just yet and that future projects were awaited him.

“Ralph wasn’t done by any stretch,” said Watson.

Ameduri, originally from New York, grew up in Altamonte Springs and attended Lake Brantley high school.

Prior to his death, he resided in College Park with his girlfriend of four years.

Watson said there will be events going on around town to benefit the Ameduri family.

“We’re going to try to put a few things together for them – performances, events,” he said. “There’s probably going to be 10, 15, maybe 20 bands who are going to play at  a pretty good-sized event in his honor and donate all the money to his family.”

He also said he wants to establish a foundation in Ameduri’s memory.

Another member of the Legendary JC’s who was present the night Ameduri died, declined to comment.

Visitors will be accepted Thursday at Baldwin-Fairchild Funeral Home in Altamonte Springs.  A “mass/celebration of life” will be held Friday at St. Mary Magdalen on Maitland Ave.

Watson said, he believes investigators will find the suspect, which he hopes will provide him and other loved ones of Ameduri with closure.

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